Ki Sung

The work of an anti-racist educator, McKamey says, must be ongoing by nature. But, she says, it’s also “joyful.”

“It’s very joyful to work in collaboration with other educators to figure out what the best teaching practice is and then to implement it and see success,” she says. “It’s so exciting to see all of your students thrive. It makes you want to keep growing and changing and doing better by your students.”

Here are excerpts from her interview on All Things Considered.

You say that you have been an anti-racist educator for over 30 years. Tell me what that means.

To be an anti-racist educator means I commit to educating all of the students sitting in front of me, including Black and Latinx students. It’s about flipping the deficit model of Black and Latinx students that plays out in our classrooms and schools.

What is a deficit model?

Deficit model is when you look at students as though there is something wrong with them or not complete with them — as opposed to thinking, “Oh there is a problem with my teaching practice.”

What do you think the role of a principal is in creating an environment where anti-racist teaching actually does thrive?

I think leadership is very important in terms of anti-racist teaching because you’re breaking a model that existed. And so, it’s important for principals to identify teacher leaders and create opportunities for them to lead — so, teachers who’ve shown efficacy in teaching African American, Latinx students. It’s important for principals working in conjunction with teacher leadership teams to design whole school anti-racist professional development and the schedule, the whole school schedule, it’s important to build in time for teacher collaboration.

When do you know that you’ve succeeded in implementing anti-racist education? When do the demands for anti-racist education end?

Schools are a reflection of the society, so they really never end. But … the question is almost like saying, “When can I stop working hard to raise my child?” Well, that’s just what it takes to raise a child, is that you have to confront yourself, you have to reach out for help and support when you need it.

Well, the same is true of teaching in general, not just anti-racist teaching. And we wouldn’t have to talk about anti-racist teaching as a separate thing if Black students and Latinx students were already included in the conceptualization of good teaching. So it never ends.

Listen to the full interview at the audio link above.

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