Research Library

Expressions of racial bias in middle grades math classrooms pose a threat to the full inclusion and equitable treatment of students of color. To combat these biased expressions, mathematics education scholars have recommended that math teachers undergo special training to employ culturally relevant practices as part of their teacher education. According to teacher-educators, however, motivating and helping their teacher-pupils implement culturally relevant classroom strategies has proven somewhat challenging. This is in part due to reluctance among teachers to adopt culturally relevant practices in their own teaching and a lack of fidelity when attempting to enact culturally relevant strategies. To overcome the challenges of reluctance and fidelity and to support teacher-educators as they train their teacher-pupils to adopt culturally relevant strategies in math classrooms, we propose that teacher-educators employ a proactive confrontation approach. We view proactive confrontation as a practical and useful tool for math teacher-educators to challenge racial bias expression and to create more equitable and inclusive math learning environments that inspire and motivate learning and performance among all students. By using proactive confrontations, teacher-educators can raise their teacher-pupils’ self-awareness that engaging in biased expression is common (but not inevitable) in math classrooms and raise their concern that bias expression is harmful to students of color and, therefore, deserves proactive attention and action. Lastly, teacher- educators can provide examples of culturally relevant classroom activities to their teacher-pupils and help them to develop and implement such practices on their own. In the present synthesis, we provide examples of how the proactive confrontation approach can be integrated with math teacher-education programs and discuss some of the persisting challenges facing math teacher-educators who choose to proactively confront racial bias.