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New research is looking for better ways to recruit color teachers in schools

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New research is looking for better ways to recruit color teachers in schools

America is becoming more diverse. But you won’t learn this by looking at the makeup of public school teachers who are predominantly white.

For the past two years, the nonprofit Digital Promise has been researching why schools have found it difficult to recruit and retain color teachers, and try to work with color teachers in districts across the country to find new approaches that work better. .

“Our position is that there is no better expert to understand how to hire and retain a color teacher than a color teacher,” says Kimberly Smith, who heads Digital Promise’s Center for Inclusive Innovation.

To learn more about the research and the new approaches they have emerged, we planted with Smith in the EdSurge podcast this week.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Embroidery or where you listen to podcasts, or use the player on this page. Or read the partial transcript below, slightly edited for clarity.

EdSurge: Your organization has researched the issue of hiring and retaining color teachers. What are your conclusions?

Kimberly Smith: So when we think of barriers that hinder the recruitment and retention of color teachers, there are certain factors that come to the surface.

One clear channel for color teachers are color students. And an understanding of color students and their experiences at school, as well as whether it was an experience of belonging, trust, identity, where students can be authentic. One problem is that school culture can be challenging for colored students, and thus demotivate students ’desire to go into teaching.

We need to start back in high school to understand the pipeline problem. If you go to college outside of high school, we know that college is expensive. We know that college can be non-primary for low- and even middle-income families. Also, think about students graduating from college and then entering certification programs, and the barriers around certification that are related to cost but also bias assessment. The reality is that there are barriers at every point of the pipeline.

One of the issues we covered that affect hiring is the low pay of teachers, which can make this area less attractive. How much did your salary consider an obstacle?

This is huge. Many colored students live in predominantly urban areas. The cost of living in urban areas is simply outrageous. If I am a teacher [of color] and I live in Washington, D.C., college, and I’m leaving college with a starting salary of $ 35,000, and I need to live near Washington, D.C., college, it’s hard to do. Students really understand this in terms of potential earnings. They also think about their own livelihood and livelihood. Teaching, at least initially, doesn’t offer that now, especially if you live in urban areas.

What solutions have you found that schools are trying to address the problem of teacher diversification?

We have a lot of ideas. And I think some of the areas that I would like to highlight in the first place are the culture of the district and ensuring that it is truly inclusive, supportive, encouraging and welcoming to teachers and students of color. There were a number of ideas around how to build this culture. I think the ideas start with the fact that we need to have color teachers at the table in the role of collaborative design.

In a focus group I listened to last night, the color teacher said, “It’s important for me to be at the table so that my voice is heard. I want to be a co-designer of culture. “

Involving color teachers in this space, working with administrators, engaging color students to collaboratively develop culture was one of the parts they raised.

[We also need to address] diversity around hiring commissions and approaches to hiring. Many school districts will think they can turn to HBCU [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] and open a pipeline there. But there are many non-traditional networks that focus on supporting colored people, whether women’s societies or fraternities. And part of that they highlighted is that you need to establish a real relationship with these networks to maintain the current diverse pipeline.

As an example, there is a charter network … which houses the offices of the HBCU School of Education at its facility. Thus, the partnership goes far beyond the vacancy council. It’s literally sitting next to, planning a pipeline layout.

And the last thing I mention is the Grow Your Own program. It is the idea that local communities have ways for students to learn and develop skills and become educators. And students want to stay in their communities.

In this way, you create teacher mentoring programs in the community. You build paths even from high school where students begin to learn what it means to teach. And you do it in a community space. There are so many teachers, grandparents, aunts, moms and dads in these communities. And that’s why you already have teaching in an informal space. So create some ways to allow this informally to encourage students to go for formal learning.

Can you give an example of a school that does particularly innovative things?

Yes, absolutely. One of the areas that I love to highlight because their program works and is very reliable is this The premiere program is 100 in Richland, two South Carolina school districts, where superintendent Baron Davis aims to recruit hundreds of black male teachers in three years. In his first year he scored 50. And does so through this fraternity. Premiere 100 is a fraternity. So when you join as an African-American male teacher, you have a network, a very deep support network. So even if you’re dealing with some issues of inequality and racism in the county, you had a safe place to go.

The pandemic has brought additional challenges to retain teachers of all demographics. How has the pandemic affected the problem of teacher diversity?

When I think about the last couple of years and the level of teacher burnout – the emotional losses that teachers take personally, only their personal families, and the feeling that they should be the guardians of students ’well-being – it just weighs heavy. It’s not just about the emotional impact, but also the factors of the work itself. The policy of disguise, vaccines, literally a coup that teachers had to make in 72 hours to become one hundred percent virtual, going back to school to find out that 20-30 percent of the staff is gone. And there is also a feeling that there is a general underestimation of teachers.

Honestly, I am surprised because there are teachers who still teach, that there are teachers who have such passion, commitment to students, and that they are still in it despite all the factors. I think the basis of learning is relationships.

But, frankly, what worries me is that there is really no action around the health and well-being of teachers. I do not see it appearing in a way that, in my opinion, will create a sustainable type of public education in the future.

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