Travis J. Bristol

Institution: University of California, Berkeley

Travis J. Bristol is an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. Before joining Berkeley's faculty, he was a Peter Paul Assistant Professor at Boston University. Dr. Bristol's research is situated at the intersection of educational policy and teacher education. Using qualitative methods, he explores three related research strands: (1) the role of educational policies in shaping teacher workplace experiences and retention; (2) district and school-based professional learning communities; (3) the role of race and gender in educational settings. Dr. Bristol's research has appeared in peer-reviewed journals including Urban Education, the American Educational Research Journal, the Journal of Teacher Education, Teachers College Record, and Harvard Educational Review. He is currently co-editing (with Conra Gist) The Handbook of Research on Teachers of Color and Indigenous Teachers, which will be published by the American Educational Research Association (AERA).  The National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, Ford Foundation, and AERA awarded Dr. Bristol dissertation fellowships in 2013. In 2016, he received the inaugural teacher diversity research award from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. In 2019, Dr. Bristol received a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship and an emerging scholar award from the Comparative and International Education Society, African Diaspora SIG. In 2020, he received a National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship. More recently, in 2021, Dr. Bristol received the Early Career Award from AERA (Division-K). He is Chair-elect of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Board of Directors; Dr. Bristol also chairs the California Department of Education Teacher Diversity Advisory Group. He is on the Board of Directors of Teach Plus; the National Center for Teacher Residencies; the Albert Shanker Institute; and the East Bay School for Boys. He is a former student and teacher in New York City public schools and teacher educator with the Boston Teacher Residency program. Dr. Bristol received his A.B. from Amherst College; an M.A. from Stanford University; and a Ph.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University.


Matthew Shirrell, Travis J. Bristol, Tolani A. Britton.

Although Black and Latinx students disproportionately face exclusionary school discipline, prior research finds that the likelihood of suspension for Black students decreases when they are taught by greater proportions of Black teachers. Little prior work, however, has examined whether these effects generalize to large, diverse, urban school districts or to Asian American or Latinx students and teachers. Using student fixed effects models and 10 years of data from New York City, we find that assignment to greater proportions of ethnoracially matched teachers decreases the likelihood of suspension for Black, Latinx, and Asian American students. The magnitudes of these effects are small but suggest that diversifying the teacher workforce could lead to significant decreases in exclusionary discipline in urban districts.

More →

Terrenda C. White, Travis J. Bristol, Tolani A. Britton.

Researchers have noted the importance of equity-based approaches to social and emotional learning (SEL), which emphasize the role of school environment, including adult beliefs, in student well-being. This article builds on this work by examining 129 teachers’ perceptions of efficacy in SEL. While participants worked in urban schools, were selected from national fellowship programs, and had similar years of experience and preparation, survey data  found that teachers in one program reported higher levels of efficacy in SEL. Interviews and observations with a purposeful sample of these teachers found that despite common challenges with exclusionary discipline practices and limited resources, efficacious teachers described a “social justice learning community,” geared for teachers of color, that enhanced their capacities to enact SEL in their schools. Discussion includes the need for critical professional development opportunities in SEL that are race-conscious, context-specific, and asset-based, as well as opportunities for teachers from historically marginalized groups to form specialized learning communities.

More →

Travis J. Bristol, Javier Martin-Fernandez.

A research synthesis points to the added-value—benefits to social and emotional development, as well as learning outcomes—for students of color taught by teachers of color. Given ongoing education debates, policymakers can use this evidence base to craft legislation aimed at increasing the ethnoracial diversity of the U.S. educator workforce. To begin, historical research shows how Latinx and Black teachers have supported their Latinx and Black students’ social and emotional development during state-sanctioned school segregation. Contemporary qualitative and quantitative research highlights how teachers of color improve social and emotional development, as well as learning, for their students of color. Implications for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act are discussed.  

More →

Travis J. Bristol.

This phenomenological study draws on semi-structured interviews with 27 Black male teachers across 14 schools in an urban school district—seven schools with three or more Black male teachers and seven schools with one Black male teacher. Consistent with theories about teacher turnover, findings indicate a relationship between organizational characteristics, reasons participants cited for leaving, and participants’ actual decisions to stay or leave.

More →