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Complexity and Transformative Learning: A Review of the Principal and Teacher Preparation Literature on Race

by Rachel Roegman, Joni Kolman, A. Lin Goodwin & Brooke Soles - 2021

Background: Racial inequities are a persistent reality in K–12 schools in the United States. There is a need for consensus and coordination between principals and teachers if they are to address the harm of racial inequities in education. Yet, despite this need and the interdependence of teachers and principals in schools, their preparation is profoundly distinct.

Purpose: Although teacher and principal preparation practice and research are distinct, addressing racial inequities in K–12 students’ schooling experiences is central to the work within both professional arenas. In this literature review, we bring together these bodies of literature as we think about ways that preparation supports principals and teachers in developing skills, knowledge, and dispositions to counter racial inequities in their schools. We focus our review around one central question: In what ways does the teacher and principal preparation literature address candidates’ transformative learning around race?

Research Design: This review focuses on peer-reviewed literature on race within teacher and principal preparation published between 2001 and 2018. We reviewed studies here that are: (1) empirical, (2) focused on principal or teacher preparation, (3) focused on preparing candidates around issues related to race or racial inequity, (4) published between 2001 and 2018, and (5) based in the United States. We ultimately identified 79 articles, 24 related to principal preparation and 55 related to teacher preparation. We drew on critical transformative learning theory to guide our analyses.

Findings: Overall, we identified more commonalities between the two literatures than differences. Our review suggests that race is understood in three main ways: in terms of “difference,” “power,” and “racism.” Race-as-difference focuses on differences between individuals related to race or culture. Race-as-power emphasizes that these differences result from systemic oppressions. Race-as-racism centers racism and/or white supremacy. This review reveals complexities of transformative learning across three areas: how candidates’ backgrounds inform their learning; how clinical experiences present opportunities and constraints for learning; and how emotions influence learning.

Recommendations: Preparation programs must educate teachers and principals about race-as-racism. Candidates need to come to understand the role of systemic racism in society and in schooling, beyond understanding individual differences. Critically, teacher and principal preparation faculties must work together across courses and experiences. Finally, there is a need for those who educate educators to receive preparation for this role.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 123 Number 8, 2021, p. -
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 23782, Date Accessed: 9/21/2021 10:40:56 AM

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About the Author
  • Rachel Roegman
    University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
    E-mail Author
    RACHEL ROEGMAN, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of educational leadership in the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign’s Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership. Her research examines the development and support of equity-focused leaders. Her work is influenced by her experiences as a public school teacher and her commitment to antiracist practice.
  • Joni Kolman
    California State University San Marcos
    E-mail Author
    JONI KOLMAN, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the School of Education at California State University San Marcos. Her research focuses on equity-oriented teaching and learning for/in low-resource, high-accountability K–12 schools, as well as how teacher educators address hate and white supremacy.
  • A. Lin Goodwin
    University of Hong Kong
    A. LIN GOODWIN (葛文林), Ph.D., is dean and professor of the Faculty (School) of Education at the University of Hong Kong. Her research focuses on teacher/teacher educator beliefs and identities, equitable education for immigrant and minoritized youth, international analyses and comparisons of teacher education practice and policy, and the experiences of Asian/Asian American teachers and students in U.S. schools. She began her career as a special education teacher.
  • Brooke Soles
    California State University San Marcos
    E-mail Author
    BROOKE SOLES, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of educational leadership and administration in the California State University San Marcos’ School of Education. Her research focuses on culturally proficient educational practices, learning and teaching in educational leadership, and online teaching and learning. Prior to higher education, she worked in the San Francisco and Los Angeles Unified School districts as a bilingual teacher and administrator.
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