A new handbook on this subject has just been published by the American Educational Research Association which explains trends in research, policy and practice. It was written and edited by Conra D. Gist and Travis J. Bristol, who wrote the following post. Gist is an Associate Professor of Teaching and Teacher Education at the University of Houston College of Education. Bristol is an associate professor of teacher education and educational policy at the School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley.
By Conra D. Gist and Travis J. Bristol
Unless school and policy officials can effectively recruit, prepare, and retain teachers of color and Indigenous teachers (TOCIT), the nation’s student population is rapidly diversifying. will not fill its academic potential, putting the future of students and the nation at risk, according to the researchers. At least half of US public school students are Black, Indigenous, or of Color (BIPOC), while only 19% of teachers are, according to federal data. Studies show that having BIPOC teachers in the classroom positively impacts student achievement, engagement, and other outcomes, especially for students of color and Indigenous students.
However, there is no simple solution to diversifying the teaching profession. What is needed is a holistic, evidence-based approach that addresses the many dimensions of a teacher’s career. Pinning our hopes on one policy alone will not solve the pressing problem of the severe demographic mismatch between BIPOC students and their teachers.
It will be useless to recruit more BIPOC teachers unless we simultaneously take action to retain these educators by fixing our leaky teacher development pipeline. Fixing the leaks would allow more aspiring teachers to complete their prep programs, gain full certification and licensing, and find schools where they are culturally affirming and supported.
In addition, it is also important to recognize the ties that unite and distinguish BIPOC teachers. These teachers share socio-political histories that shape how they embrace transformative and community-based practices. At the same time, BIPOC teachers embody a range of complex and different experiences that require uniquely tailored approaches that prepare them for the job.
The nation will struggle to retain BIPOC teachers unless policymakers and practitioners provide them with better early career support and improve their working conditions. Otherwise, given the disturbing turnover trends among BIPOC teachers, any gains in ethno-racial diversity among new teachers will disappear within a few years.
To develop a better understanding of the challenges of increasing ethno-racial diversity in teachers and how to overcome them, we led the development of the “Teachers of Color and Indigenous Teachers Research Handbookpublished by the American Educational Research Association. The handbook synthesizes what is known in this area and identifies promising trends in research, policy and practice.
Here are important takeaways for school and policy makers looking to effectively diversify their teaching workforce.
BIPOC teachers are not a monolithic group.
It is important that the unique cultural experiences and societal challenges faced by Native, Asian American, Black, and Latino teachers in pre-service and in-service education are not overlooked. In the manual, we explore how markers of difference between BIPOC teachers – such as class, nationality, immigration status, presence or absence of a disability and how the use of language shapes identity – can inform how BIPOC teachers engage in K-12 schooling. Reform efforts that ignore these differences are likely to be ineffective and undermine efforts to diversify the teaching workforce. To address this issue, education leaders must implement initiatives, such as racial affinity groups and tailored learning communities, that honor these differences in ways that enhance teaching and learning experiences. learning of BIPOC educators.
The real-world implications of race and structural racism present challenges for the academic and professional development of BIPOC teachers.
The manual examines the cultural narratives, institutional practices, disciplinary policies, and interpersonal dynamics that shape the professional lives of BIPOC teachers to demonstrate the complex web of challenges they typically face. Without passing this thorough examination, the field may continue to cultivate teacher development practices that are dehumanizing for BIPOC teachers. To meet this challenge, it will be essential for educator preparation programs and school district professional development systems to rethink their strategies and operations. This will require valuing the knowledge systems and experiences of BIPOC educators, recruiting and preparing culturally sensitive and sustainable teacher educators and school leaders, and addressing inequities in policy and practice, from recruitment and retention until retirement.
The psychological, social, and emotional experiences of BIPOC teachers must be holistically addressed to support their ability to grow, remain, and be effective as educators.
The manual researchers explore the psycho-socio-emotional burdens that teachers in BIPOC bear, what can be done to mitigate the effects of educational and professional inequalities, and what kinds of structural, institutional and policy reforms can make education of the Kindergarten to Grade 12 a healthier work environment for them. This is especially timely given the massive teacher shortages plaguing the country and requires a commitment to reimagining the ways in which professional learning for BIPOC teachers can be tailored to the environment in which these educators work. A few ways school districts can intentionally engage in the holistic development of BIPOC teachers include collaborating with mental health and social work groups to support their psycho-social-emotional health, funding professional development networks led by BIPOC educators and to fight toxic school cultures and policies that dehumanize BIPOC teachers.
The unique local issues facing teachers can be addressed by forming intentional, strategic, and authentic research-practice partnerships with nearby education scholars to study the ethno-racial diversity of teachers.
If we hope to understand and overcome the complex challenges of recruiting, preparing, mentoring, supporting and retaining BIPOC teachers, we must pay attention to the local problems they face, and we must find solutions that meet their specific needs. This will require researchers to work in healthy and enduring partnerships with teachers, administrators, and other local stakeholders to identify and address the most pressing issues facing ethno-racial diversity in teachers.
Of course, strategies must be supported by infrastructure and policies that fund and implement strategies to address the ethno-racial diversity of educators. Such policies would support high-quality preparation pathways, tailored hiring and placement strategies paired with culturally appropriate and equity-focused mentoring and induction programs, and professional development opportunities. leadership skills that engage talented BIPOC educators.
No single strategy or policy will increase the number of effective BIPOC teachers entering and remaining in the profession. The textbook’s research supports a comprehensive approach – one that systematically addresses teacher mentorship, professional development, preparation program design, teacher recruitment, teacher retention, political influences on teachers, teaching practices and leadership and influence of institutions serving minorities. It is a promising place to begin a process of change much needed for the future of the nation.