Theses Doctoral

"We Need New Communities": White Teacher Educators Talk About Race

Darity, Kelsey

The purpose of this study was to examine how spaces for difficult conversations, particularly about race, are created so teacher educators can begin to consider how to prepare teachers to facilitate these spaces and, ultimately, these conversations, in an effort to improve racial literacy amongst students, both K12 and secondary. This is an urgent need in the U.S., where the silence about race has broken through in ways that have been destructive. The significance of this study, therefore, lies in the exploration of how white teacher educators constructed spaces for new conversations about race, as this can directly impact the way they prepare teacher candidates to do the same in K12 classrooms.

In studying the construction of a space where these conversations were possible, and where hegemonic norms and the hidden curriculum could be questioned and disrupted, I argue that we can rethink how educators take up the ideals of multicultural education as well as culturally relevant and sustaining pedagogies in classroom spaces. Though this study offers insight into just one group of white teacher educators as it coexists within the larger framework of school spaces in New York City and is nested within the institution of U.S. schooling and society writ large, the study’s results may contribute to understandings of what a “brave” space for tough conversations looks like for American school teachers and children and how it can be produced.

Through both discourse and spatial analysis of data produced through audio- and video-taping of eight monthly meetings, individual interviews, and the generation and collection of artifacts, my key findings are grounded in the pervasiveness of white supremacy in education. With this understanding, white educators must work to understand that there is no “one right way” to begin disrupting white supremacy in the classroom. Therefore, white teacher educators need new communities to begin addressing the ways in which white teacher educators are able to engage in talking about race and ultimately work toward facilitating spaces where their teacher candidates can then do the same.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Siegel, Marjorie
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
August 4, 2021