Juneteenth to July 4th
An opportunity to reflect on Freedom and Racial Injustice
I - Inclusion and identity
Children who have a close relationship with their teacher are likely to see the classroom as a safe and affirming learning environment. As Jim Henson once said “Kids don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”
Inclusive learning happens when student populations can Identify with the adults in their educational system. Unfortunately, "None of my teachers or school staff look like me" is a common refrain among BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, (and) People of Color) students in Hopkinton, and they are correct - very few of their administrators, their guidance counselors, or teachers are BIPOC.
Why BIPOC Educators are important? #RepresentationMatters
BIPOC youth and adults have their own experiences and identities. "Black teachers today are, by nearly every metric, more successful at supporting the achievement and well-being of Black children. Black students who have even one Black teacher during elementary school are more likely to graduate high school and consider college." as noted in the Time article, "Why Black teachers are important for all students". The article goes on to explain that other students of color also benefit from BIPOC educators, "research has shown that students of color believe teachers of the same race hold them to higher expectations and are more culturally sensitive than their white counterparts."
For black students and other students of color, this could mean something as simple as fighting for the advanced placement classes they were turned down for, or having an adult in their education system who understands their race based challenges, or simply just having a mentor and role model in their education who looks like them and helps to relieve the pressure of social isolation in suburban schools that many black students and other students of color feel.
It’s not just the BIPOC student population who are impacted positively by having BIPOC teachers and staff, BIPOC parents, non-bipoc students, and communities also benefit from diverse teachers and educational role models. The findings in a report by the Learning Policy Institute indicate that a diverse teaching workforce benefits all students and their BIPOC educators:
The Benefits of Diversity in the Teaching Workforce
Teachers of color boost the academic performance of students of color, including improved reading and math test scores, improved graduation rates, and increases in aspirations to attend college.
Students of color and White students report having positive perceptions of their teachers of color, including feeling cared for and academically challenged.
Greater diversity of teachers may mitigate feelings of isolation, frustration, and fatigue that can contribute to individual teachers of color leaving the profession when they feel they are alone.
For further resources on why #RepresentationMatters in education check out these articles and links:
LISTEN: NEA Podcast "Amplify Black Voices in America: We Said What We Said!"
READ: Article by the Brookings Institution on How diversifying the teaching force can close student achievement gaps
READ: Article by Mount Royal University on Why a Lack of Representation is an obstacle for BIPOC Students
READ: Article on better BIPOC parent engagement Want parent engagement? Hire more BIPOC teachers, and support them
Recruiting and Retaining BIPOC Faculty and Staff
It's not just a matter of recruiting, but also a matter of retaining black educators and other educators of color. By supporting BIPOC educators, especially in majority white communities, we can strengthen the ties to the community and the bonds these educators share with all of their students when they feel invested in the community. However, retaining black educators is very difficult when black educators are faced with questions of their own intelligence, Microaggressions, additional responsibilities, a lack of advancement or compensation, and feelings of isolation or lack of support.
EXPLORE: the full report by the Learning Policy Institute on Diversifying the Teaching Profession: How to Recruit and Retain Teachers of Color
READ: this opinion piece by a black teacher on why Schools need BIPOC educators now more than ever
Why do BIPOC educators leave the suburbs
READ: THE RESEARCH IS IN Why Black Teachers Walk Away To better understand why Black teachers leave the profession, it’s important to look at how today’s schools are shaped by decades of institutional racism. “Education is about freedom,” said View. “That shows up in the pedagogies of Black teachers.”
READ: this report on solutions to stop teacher turnover IF YOU LISTEN WE WILL STAY: Why Teachers of Color Leave