Identifying barriers to conversations about race

By Elizabeth Foster
December 2022
Conversations about race are increasingly at the forefront of debates about education, teaching, learning, and how to achieve excellent outcomes for each adult and student in a successful learning system. Research is emerging about the benefits of building the capacity of educators to engage in conversations about race and identity, amongst themselves and with students. Substantive discussions about race in the classroom have been shown to improve students’ relationships with other students, their perceptions of races other than their own, and their own ability to talk about racial and cultural issues (Milner, 2017). Acknowledging race and culture contributes to students feeling accepted and valued as learners. And, engaging in conversations with students and colleagues about race — their own or in general — expands teachers’

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Ladson-Billings G. (2009). The dreamkeepers: Successful teachers of African-American children. Jossey-Bass.

Learning Forward. (2022). Standards for Professional Learning. Author.

Milner, H.R. (2017). Race, talk, opportunity gaps, and curriculum shifts in teacher education. Literacy Research: Theory Method and Practice, 66(1), 73-94.

Image for aesthetic effect only - Elizabeth-foster
Vice President, Standards & Research | + posts

Elizabeth Foster is the vice president of research and standards at Learning Forward. She leads the organization’s research efforts for partnerships, programs, and fundraising. Elizabeth co-wrote the Standards for Professional Learning (2022) with Tracy Crow and now facilitates learning sessions about the standards and develops resources that support their use and implementation. She contributes to the design, facilitation, and evaluation of networks. Prior to Learning Forward, Elizabeth was the vice president of strategic initiatives at the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF) where she led a major research investigation about educator support systems that resulted in a report entitled What Matters Now (2016) and a successful three-year improvement network with Learning Forward. Her published work includes studies on teacher recruitment, preparation, and professional learning, urban teacher shortages, community college teacher preparation, professional learning communities, and the demographics of the education workforce. Elizabeth started out with an operating foundation in New York City that supported public education innovation projects, then worked in middle school special education in Boston and staffed a research project about inclusion with the Harvard RALLY project. Elizabeth enjoys spending time with her two incredible daughters, as well as other family and friends – especially on the beach.

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