Diversifying the Teaching Workforce: An Observer’s Reflections
As an AACTE intern this semester, I was given the opportunity to be a part of the 70th Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, including attending several sessions in between my other staff assignments. One of the events I enjoyed attending addressed the challenge that education systems face with the lack of minority teachers, especially Black and Hispanic/Latino men, in today’s diverse classrooms.
Being a college student who is both Hispanic and Black, I found this topic intriguing and the discussion valuable as members of the AACTE Black & Hispanic/Latino Male Teachers Initiative Networked Improvement Community (NIC) and students in the AACTE Holmes Program interacted with each other and with the audience.
As the facilitators invited numerous teachers, faculty, and students to share their perspectives, I kept hearing about the importance of not giving up on either their students or their own ability to make a difference. I believe that while everyone faces challenges in their own ways, the majority of Blacks and Hispanics experience environmental issues that stand in the way of pursuing their interests. It was gratifying to see several Blacks and Hispanics speaking in front of an audience about their struggles and what has helped them overcome barriers and stick to what they believe in.
The session finished with questions from the audience about aspects of supporting recruitment and retention of these underrepresented groups. Presenters stressed mentorship as a critical solution – a teacher, professor, or other mentor that the student can trust. Building trust may be easier when the mentor looks like the student. As one of the candidates on stage said, “This will allow for an individual to feel a sense of comfort, trust, and hope.”