By: Rann Miller
Every school district is different. Certainly, all school districts share similar challenges, however school districts are unique. It’s due to the various factors that shape their character, strategic mission and vision, as well as their culture. Once teachers are hired into a district, they must be brought to speed on the norms and values of a district.
What is equally true is that when hired, teachers must be inducted into the school and district community in ways where they are introduced to a support system designed for them to be their best, both for the students they teach and for themselves. When teachers of color enter a new district and/or school building, it is imperative they learn about the district as well as be introduced to a support system to help them flourish.
Many schools have a handle on the former and not the latter; this is true for teachers in general. But for teachers of color, it’s even shoddier.
Schools do offer points of support for teachers in the form of mentorships, administrative support and professional development. There are also informal peer relationships where teachers can receive support. However, general approaches to onboarding teachers of color for the work they’ll do often fails to see their color in the first place.
Nationally, teachers of color only make up 21% of the teaching profession, yet students of color make up 55%of all students nationally. It is important that educators see color and see it in the classroom to support student learning and also teacher praxis. When onboarding teachers of color, particularly during that first week where all new teachers enter school for onboarding, here are some things DIVERSITY in Ed recommends the district and/or school leaders do to establish a foundation for teachers of color and their success:
- Craft onboarding programming according to feedback from current teachers of color according to their experiences. Using survey data from the school year (as well as the previous year’s onboarding activities) district and school officials can utilize the feedback from teachers of color to improve programming for incoming teachers to better acclimate them to the district and/or school.
- Have current teachers of color work with the administrative team to develop onboarding program. This is similar to the first suggestion, but this is an intentional recruiting of teachers of color to put together onboarding programming for all teachers, but with new teachers of color in mind, accomplishing similar to what was previously suggested.
- Host a session/workshop where new teacher hires of color meet with current teachers of color to gain intra-racial strategies for navigating the district and/or school building. This is an opportunity to help formally facilitate community between teachers of color within the district to provide teachers with resources from amongst colleagues who understand their circumstances and can offer support on teacher praxis as a teacher of color.
- Explain the worth of teachers of color in relation to student performance (sharing worth immediately).Use the workshop time to explain the value of teachers of color throughout the district; using data to inform all the impact of teachers of color on the academic performance of students of color. Sharing such data can help teachers of color be seen for their content knowledge and possibly avoid having to pay the invisible tax.