“I am, because, we are and not we are, because of me.”
Back in May, I had the privilege to travel to Boston and present at the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color 12th Annual Conference. Teach Plus connected four policy fellows from three states to present at the conference about teacher recruitment and retention, specifically those of color. The participants in the workshop also did a deep dive into the article 9 Things Every Educator Should Know When Teaching Black Students.
As a facilitator, I appreciated the dialogue that centered around the importance of attracting and retaining educators of color. One participant provided clarity with this one thought: “It is not until schools see teachers of color as an asset where they will take this need as important.” What she meant was currently schools see diversifying the teacher staff more as a box to check than overall effectiveness and inclusion.
There were five key takeaways from the training that I want to share here. Perhaps they can be helpful to the next leader who is faced with diversifying their teaching staff:
There are teachers of color all over this country who are qualified to teach in some of our country’s most challenging and difficult schools. They process the knowledge it takes to successfully serve as an example to their students while both increasing student achievement and teacher efficacy. These teachers are not hard to come by; you just have to know how to look for them.
Teachers of color have a global mindset. Their classrooms are designed to expose students to experiences outside of their comfort zone.
Teachers of color know their students well enough to assess when their experiencing issues that hinder their abilities to perform at their expected standards. When they notice this, they will take the necessary time to address those problems and help the students come up with solutions.
Teachers of color understand they must work with others to develop a diverse educational “toolkit” that will support them throughout their teaching journey. They will utilize their knowledge and will also assist with the development of their peers.
Teachers of color understand to be successful at their job they must conduct home visits, move around the classroom, sponsor school-related extracurricular activities, and attend non-school related extracurricular activities.
This, of course, isn’t an all-inclusive list, but it highlights the assets teachers of color bring to the school setting.