Practicing Professional Discomfort as Self-Location: White Teacher Experiences With Race Bias Mitigation

Arlo Kempf, Preeti Nayak


This study is among the first in Canada to research implicit race bias mitigation in secondary teacher practice. The findings emerge from data collected from a ten-month engagement period with 12 Ontario teachers who, alongside the research team, codesigned a race bias mitigation plan based on four to six varied mitigation strategies. These included technical and dialogical activities and a required reading of one anti-racist and/or anti-colonial book. Throughout the project, teachers engaged in ongoing reflection, journaling, email exchanges and an in-person interview. A thematic analysis of this data was completed (Ryan & Bernard, 2003). The design of this study was underpinned by a braiding of social psychology with critical race theory, second wave White teacher identity studies and other approaches. This multimodal approach brings a critical and dynamic reading of whiteness in education. Three broad preliminary findings have emerged from this study. First, teacher perceptions of efficacy of implicit race bias mitigation strategies relied on their noticing of conscious changes in their perceptions of and experiences with race, racism and Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) students. Second, the concurrent use of critical anti-racist strategies, alongside implicit race bias mitigation strategies, seemed to instigate participants’ deepest reflections on race. Finally, this synergy and the long duration of the project contributed to the participants’ evolving understandings of racism in education as a phenomenon that goes beyond the domain of the individual. The results may deepen our understandings of the challenges and opportunities surrounding implicit race bias mitigation work in terms of teacher practices and theoretical considerations.


secondary teacher practice; anti-racism; implicit race bias; whiteness in education

Full Text: