By: Rann Miller
Professionally speaking, teaching has been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. But my degree isn’t in teaching. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do when I entered college but teaching wasn’t one of the things that came to mind.
When I graduated from undergrad I entered grad school, still not thinking about teaching. Until one day one of my professors who remains a mentor suggested that I entered the classroom.
Once I graduated, rather than entering field the public administration and working behind a desk, I chose to enter the classroom and stand before young people. As a Black male, I can honestly say that my presence has a positive impact on my students. I have the privilege of pouring into my students daily with my teaching and mentorship; every day due to what I bring to the table.
That’s true for many teachers of color.
However, you won’t always find them in a teacher prep course or a school of education when you go recruiting them. You may find them working in a hospital, or in an IT department, or like my professor found me, in a graduate school class.
When we were in recruiting teachers of color, the most important thing is to recruit by doing the unorthodox thing. DIVERSITY in Ed offers some tips that may seem unorthodox to some, but are nonetheless valid for attempting to find teachers of color:
- Recruit non-education majors. Whether at a PWI or an HBCU; there are Black college students who would do well in the classroom that may have a non-teaching degree, but never had anyone approach them with the possibilities of doing the job. When recruiting and visiting colleges find those students of color in the fields that you need filled whether it be math, science, theater, or physical education. You may find exactly what you need.
- Recruit professionals of color from other fields. Students of color who were never approached with being a teacher become professionals of color who were never approached to become a teacher. In addition to their content knowledge, professionals of color from various industries enter classrooms with wealth of experience that can support classroom teaching. When recruiting educators of color consider reaching out to professionals of color interested in starting a second career.
- Recruit paraprofessionals; many of whom are already teachers of color. Currently, there are higherpercentages of paraprofessionals, or teachers assistants, of color than teachers of color. These are individuals who build a rapport and relationships with students and support with student achievement. Rather than recruit from outside, it may be wise and viable to invest in paraprofessionals by way of tuition reimbursement so they can get their degree and become teachers. Depending on where your district is, you may have a pool of prospective teachers of color made up of paraprofessionals that you’ve yet to invest in.