Sociology | Pauli Murray College

Senior Essay Title: "Race in the Preschool Classroom: Examining Disparate Teacher Interventions"

Adviser: Mira Debs

Abstract: Early childhood research in recent years has focused upon anti-bias work to address disparate educational outcomes for Black students at the preschool level. However, there has been little examination of how bias can concretely manifest in the day-to-day reality of a preschool classroom. In this study, I situate myself in a pre-K center dubbed ABC Center where I observe trends of teacher intervention over the course of 26 hours across two months. I found that despite considerable training, there were racially disparate trends in teacher interventions. I explore one potential mechanism through which implicit bias could affect these trends; specifically, that bias influences the types of in-the-moment strategies used to maintain control over students, which are then established as “effective” strategies for certain children over others. However, I also found that support systems available in the form of “outside eyes” at ABC Center provided an alternative approach to behavioral interventions that could combat bias by providing teachers with structured approaches to smaller interventions. As anti-bias work for early childhood spaces continues to expand, these results could inform future anti-bias research in providing concrete ways that justice-oriented centers could tackle bias within their classrooms.