Abstract: Factors Supporting Educator Preparedness to Manage Racial Encounters and Student Empowerment in Schools: A Mediational Analysis (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

Factors Supporting Educator Preparedness to Manage Racial Encounters and Student Empowerment in Schools: A Mediational Analysis

Friday, January 17, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 7, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Lloyd Talley, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI

Scholars, across disciplines, note that schooling institutions are one of the major sites in which race is constructed for students (Nasir, 2012; Howard, 2006 Spencer, 2012). In alignment with this concern, there is a robust literature surrounding the relationship between student racialized psychosocial characteristics (racial identity, racial socialization) and issues of schooling performance and equity. Notably, within this literature we find that constructs such as racial socialization and coping skills, are promotive of student academic performance and well-being in schooling environments. However, less commonly investigated are the ways in which the racialized psychosocial characteristics of teachers and administrators impact their professional self-efficacy and perception of schooling equity dynamics. “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” is a term famously coined by Peggy McIntosh (1989) to describe the racialized ideologies, assumptions, beliefs, dispositions, and behaviors that White teachers have developed over their life course. McIntosh suggests that understanding how these dynamics operate and shape the behaviors of school-related personnel is integral to the preparation of teachers in urban schools and thus the success of students.  However, these issues are not limited to educators who identity as racially as White.

Racial Encounter Socialization, Appraisal, Coping Theory (RECAST; Stevenson, 2014) posits that the ability to navigate the stress of racialized encounters is dependent on one’s racial socialization experiences, coping self-efficacy, and behavioral preparation. Further, Stevenson & Coleman’s (2013) work, engaging RECAST (2014) on the impact of racialized psychosocial characteristics in independent school teachers, found that psychosocial racial characteristics were significantly associated with teacher classroom management self-efficacy and perceived ability to motivate students.


Using analysis of variance and hierarchical multiple regression techniques, this study investigates the relationship between the demographic, psychosocial racial characteristics (childhood socialization, coping self-efficacy, and stress) and the professional self-efficacy beliefs (classroom management, ability to motivate students, school commitment to diversity) of a diverse sample of educators (n=154; M= 33.26.)


Preliminary results expand and corroborate Stevenson and Coleman’s (2013) findings. Teachers and administrators who reported more childhood, high school racial socialization experiences, racial literacy and less racial stress also reported stronger classroom management, ability to motivate students, and awareness of racially dehumanizing acts committed toward students.


These findings demonstrate some of the mechanisms by which cultural competence are built and equity is achieved and thwarted in schooling environments.  Evidence indicates that improving teacher racial socialization experiences shape their perspectives and awareness of racialized schooling dynamics, However, beyond intellectual preparation, the development of racial coping skills and awareness are integral.  This suggest that more complex domain-specific modes of teacher preparation (racial: intellectual, emotional and behavioral,) are integral to educator and student well-being and performance.