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There Aren’t Enough Teachers of Color; What Is To Be Done?

By Kim Marshall, TIE columnist

The article: “Following the Lead of Teachers of Color” by Jill Harrison Berg in Educational Leadership, April 2019 (Vol. 76, #7, p. 87-88),
In this Educational Leadership article, consultant Jill Harrison Berg cites research showing that students of color perform better with teachers who look like them. However, educators of color are only 20% of the teaching workforce, and 40% of schools have no teachers of color. Long term, says Berg, we must change those statistics, but short term, all educators can learn from the characteristics that, according to researchers, make teachers of color effective:
• Positive role models – Schools need to organize visits by accomplished visitors of color from the community and foster positive interactions with students.
• High expectations – “Teachers of color have been observed to be more responsive to students who are struggling, to persevere in reteaching these students until they respond, and to persist in pushing students to work hard,” says Berg. Principals should hold all educators accountable for these qualities.
• Culturally responsive teaching – Teachers must recognize “the diverse perspectives, communication styles, and experiences of students, and tap into them as assets that can advance learning,” says Berg. “Students deserve to see themselves in the curriculum and to learn from the perspective of others.”
• Trusting relationships – Certain schoolwide routines establish trust, says Berg – student work portfolios celebrating the whole child, conferences with families, and service-learning field trips.
• Advocating for equity – “[A]ll educators must commit to being advocates both for equity and against racism,” says Berg. This means courageous conversations about race and exposing students to materials that deal honestly with race.

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