top of page

Reading List Pt. 1: Pre-service Teachers' Beliefs about Race, Diversity & Social Justice

In the wake of the horrific murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd & Rayshard Brooks, there has been a resurgence of energy and an increased sense of urgency around developing and implementing anti-racist, equitable and social justice-oriented practices. A key aspect of this work is gaining the knowledge and understandings necessary to do the self-reflection that serves as the foundation on which to build everything else. Tons of reading lists and resources to aid in the education and reflective process have been popping up...and I'm about to add to that list.

Looking to my deep engagement with high ed spaces, including my current work as a teacher educator in a university-based program, I've put together some reading lists consisting of peer-reviewed articles (I don't use "academic" because ANYTHING can be academic if we frame it as such) that are specifically aimed at exploring issues of race, racism, diversity, social justice and equity. All of the readings I'll include are those that I read throughout my years in the Ivory Tower, most of which I came across in my research for my dissertation. So much of this work remains inaccessible or untapped outside of the higher education space, while still serving as major sources of theoretical and practical support for the practices within K-12 spaces. In addition, many of these readings are glossed over or left off of syllabi in university-based programs and courses, even those claiming to be grounded in the same theoretical frameworks. Thus, it's extremely important, in my opinion, to begin to bridge the gap by bringing these articles and scholars to light.

However, it's important to note that even though all of these readings pushed me in my thinking and helped me to develop my own perspectives and beliefs around these important issues, I DON'T love or even agree with all of the scholars' perspectives or presentations of the material. Instead, I present these articles to you in the same way that I present them to my students: as thought-provoking pieces that encourage deep personal reflection on the issues and hopefully lead you to have some very necessary conversations.

This first batch of readings dives into pre-service teachers' attitudes & beliefs about race (or particular racial/ethnic groups), diversity & social justice. Some provide examples of how to encourage pre-service teachers to begin talking about these topics, while others serve as exemplars for how to structure teacher ed courses aimed at actively shifting teachers' negative perceptions and beliefs towards those that are more social justice-oriented. To help identify which reading(s) might be the most useful for you, I've included the title, writers, and abstracts or excerpts from each piece as well as some reflection questions (at the end of this post) to help facilitate/guide your self-reflection.


"Developing Cultural Critical Consciousness and Self-Reflection in Preservice Teacher Education", Geneva Gay & Kipchoge Kirkland (2003)

Abstract: In this article, the authors argue that developing personal and professional critical consciousness about racial, cultural, and ethnic diversity should be a major component of preservice teacher education. They discuss some maneuvers teacher education students use to avoid engaging with racial issues in education and suggest some strategies for counteracting them. The resistance strategies include silence, di-

version, guilt, and benevolent liberalism. Techniques to offset these and develop critical cultural consciousness and self-reflection include creating learning expectations of criticalness, modeling, providing opportunities to practice critical consciousness, and translating conceptual multicultural education into K-12 instructional possibilities. Woven throughout the specific suggestions is the general directive that critical consciousness learning experiences should take place within the context of guided practice, authentic examples, and realistic situations.

"How Teacher Educators Created a Course Curriculum to Challenge and Enhance Preservice Teachers' Thinking and Experience with Diversity", H. Richard Milner & Margaret Smithey (2003)

Abstract: Recognizing that students of color often do not achieve as well as their White counterparts, the authors of this article acknowledged the need for preservice teachers to study racial and cultural issues as they relate to teaching in diverse classrooms. For four months prior to the beginning of the course that the authors would co-teach, they systematically read multiple articles and book chapters about racial and cultural issues in schools and met weekly to discuss, from their own perspectives and experiences, their reactions to the readings. Simultaneously, they considered emerging possibilities for a course curriculum where preservice teachers would explore issues important to what they called

creating culturally celebratory pedagogy and classrooms. The authors, a Black faculty

member and a White faculty member in a teacher education program, share key questions

that emerged from their readings and discussions, describe four major components they

integrated into the course curriculum, and present assignments that may reduce preservice

teachers’ deficit knowledge and thinking about racial and cultural issues in classrooms and

schools. The authors also consider students’ initial reactions to the course content and what

the students’ reactions might mean for the structure and restructure of the course.

An "Ideology in Pieces" Approach to Studying Change in Teachers' Sensemaking About Race, Racism and Racial Justice", Thomas Philip (2011)

Abstract: This article makes a unique contribution to the literature on teachers’ racialized sensemaking by proposing a framework of “ideology in pieces” that synthesizes Hall’s (1982, 1996) theory of ideology and diSessa’s (1993) theory of conceptual change. Hall’s theory of ideology enables an examination of teachers’ sensemaking as situated within a structured society and diSessa’s research on conceptual change provides an analytical lens to understand the elements of ideological sensemaking and the processes of ideological transformation. I use the framework of ideology in pieces to analyze and interpret the ideological sensemaking and transformation of a teacher engaged in a collaborative teacher research group in which participants explored issues of social justice in their high school math and science classrooms. The framework and analysis presented in the article offer a more comprehensive theory of teachers’ ideological sensemaking and transformation that includes their cognitive, social, and structural dimensions.

"Popular Visual Images and the (Mis)Reading of Black Male Youth: a case for racial literacy in urban preservice teacher education", Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz & Perry Greene (2014)

Abstract: In the majority of public schools across the nation, Black male youth are undergoing what can be deemed as “educational genocide” the killing off of any chances for equitable education. This dramatically decreases opportunities for Black male youth to develop into fully participating citizens in a democratic society. In many ways, race is the silent killer because it is frequently masked. Preservice teachers often take their cue for how to treat Black male students from existing stereotypes about Black males and media representations of them. In this article, we argue for the development of racial literacy in preservice teacher education programs as a pedagogical method to mitigate the misreading of Black male students in teacher candidates’ fieldwork experiences and subsequently in their future classrooms. Our argument operates from the premise that in a time when diversity, multiculturalism, and inclusion are more widely recognized than ever before, the notion of race, and popular education films that depict race, still influence how teacher candidates view Black male students, and race remains a predictor for how these students experience school.

"Developing Social Justice Educators", Jeffrey M.R. Duncan-Andrade (2005)

Excerpt: Urban schools face sizeable challenges. Two components that can help urban school leaders meet these challenges are (1) developing a better understanding of effective urban teachers' philosophies and practices, and (2) putting a system in place to support the professional growth of all teachers. School leaders can develop these supportive systems of professional development if they use successful practitioners as resources. Power Elementary School's inquiry group enables highly effective teachers who espouse a pedagogy of social transformation to share their philosophy and practice with colleagues. The structure of the group balances high expectations with teacher autonomy, support, and collaboration. Such professional development communities hold great promise for helping urban schools improve professional practice an student achievement.

"Changing Preservice Teachers' Attitudes/Beliefs about Diversity: What are critical factors?", M. Arthur Garmon (2004)

Abstract: This study focused on determining whether there are particular factors that may be associated with the development of greater multicultural awareness and sensitivity in preservice teachers. The researcher conducted extensive interviews with one 22-year-old White female teacher candidate and identified six factors that appeared to play a critical role in her positive multicultural development. Three of the factors were dispositional and included openness to diversity, self-awareness/self-reflectiveness, and commitment to social justice. The other three factors were experiential and included intercultural experiences, support group experiences, and educational experiences. Several implications of the study are discussed,


Reflection Questions

  1. What sticks out to you from each reading and why? This could be for positive or negative reasons. Remember just because you agree with the OVERALL premise of reading doesn't mean there aren't things to critique.

  2. Discuss any personal connections you have to the readings. Think about whether they bring up an experience you had as a K-12 student, a college student/preservice teacher, or a teacher/professor.

  3. How do the readings help you to think about or understand the experiences you listed in question 2 differently or more deeply? What new understandings or questions are you walking away with?

  4. What now? After reading each article, what are you thinking about changing in your future practice, thinking or social interactions? What things can you do more of? Less of? What additional information and/or experiences do you think you need to continue to develop or transform your beliefs about race, racism, equity, and social justice and better serve your students?

165 views0 comments


bottom of page