Graduates of Call Me MISTER: Photo by Patrick Wright, Clemson University, Photographic Services-University Relations.
This article originally appeared in EdSurge and is reprinted with permission.
When Alphonso Richard Jr. walked into his first teacher education course at Clemson University, he experienced a shock.
“Being in a class where you’re the only male, I didn’t know where to sit,” he says. “Girls were looking like, ‘Oh my goodness, is that a guy in here?’”
Compounding the confusion: Most women in the room were white, and Richard is Black. The dissonance was enough to send a shiver of doubt through the aspiring educator’s mind.
“It was a scared, hesitant feeling at first,” Richard says. “Am I meant to be here? Is this for me?”
It takes courage to enter a space where you’re not sure you belong. That’s the kind of threshold that Black men training to become educators have to cross many times. They make up only 2 percent of U.S. public school teachers (men overall compose 24 percent). They’re also underrepresented in college teacher-preparation programs, as education is “one of the least diverse major fields in higher education,” according to a 2019 report from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
The following is a quote from AACTE President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone from the article, which originally appeared in EdSurge and is reprinted with permission:
“With a 120-hour curriculum, it’s hard to find space to add more,” Gangone says. “There’s the basic ed-prep work, and then you’ve got all the other things that end up being initially seen as ancillary but aren’t—like social and emotional learning.”
On an ordinary June morning, kids descend on the campus of Auburn University to try science experiments at the college of education’s annual STEM camp. It’s an opportunity for the future teachers who are enrolled at the college to apply what they learn in class in a practical setting, testing out lesson plans with real elementary students.
This year, camp is canceled due to COVID-19. But education students still need to work on lesson plans, and kids still need summer activities. So the college is asking its future teachers to make online activity guides and videos for Home Works, a new distance learning program designed to help kids connect the curricula they usually learn in person at school or camp with what’s going on in their real lives—which right now mostly means being stuck at home.
“I want to make sure my undergrads are thinking about their impact outside of a formal classroom,” says Martina P. McGhee, assistant clinical professor of elementary education at Auburn University.