Learning to See: the Development of Race and Class Consciousness in White Teachers

Document Type



Published in: Race, Ethnicity and Education, Vol. 14, Vol. 4, 2011.


This is a study of White teachers and their identity development. Using a qualitative approach steeped in the tenants of critical race theory and storytelling, this study investigated how White teachers learn about race, class and diversity in meaningful ways, with a close eye on the role their own personal histories played in their development. To better understand this phenomenon, three White teachers – all believed to be exceptionally skilled in educating children of color in urban centers – were interviewed over the course of several meetings. Their data provides insights into the factors and experiences that shape the race and class consciousness of successful White teachers in urban schools. Through the teachers’ stories, we glean an awareness of the salient life experiences that help build solidarity between students and teachers, help White teachers understand their own racial positioning, and illuminate ways in which teacher education programs can broaden their understanding of ‘quality’ teachers.