The United States has a diverse population in terms of race and ethnicity. However, this diversity is not fully reflected in the teaching population (Table 1). In the 2011-12 school year, 44% of all elementary and secondary students were “minority” or “students of colour”, defined (interchangeably) by the American Census as Blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, Asians and Pacific Islanders, compared to only 17% of all elementary and secondary teachers (Bond et al., 2015). Even though the proportion of minority teachers has been steadily increasing over time, the diversity gap between students and teachers is widening as the growth of minority students’ population is expanding more rapidly.
Source: Bond et al. (2015), The State of Teacher Diversity in American Education, p. 15.
While the employment of minority teachers has increased, these teachers are more likely to work in “hard-to-staff” schools, meaning high-poverty or high-minority schools. Researchers suggest that less desirable working conditions in these schools might have a negative impact on turnover rates, in spite of stimulating recruitment efforts. They show evidence that teachers reflecting the full diversity of the nation’s population would be beneficial not only for minority students but for all students (Bond et al., 2015).
NYC Men Teach is a programme based in New York City seeking to diversify the teaching workforce by recruiting and supporting teachers of colour. Since its launch in 2015 and in conjunction with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s NYC Young Men Initiative, the programme has focused on recruiting an additional 1 000 men of colour into New York City’s diverse classrooms.
The programme introduces multiple pathways towards teacher certification:
The programme provides further support through mentor groups, professional development programmes and a hub school network.
NYC Men Teach provides early career support for beginning teachers through mentoring. Every month, a mentor meets a group of new teachers in person for an hour and a half. Mentors give advice and attend an array of professional development and community building events with their mentees. New teachers are encouraged to reach out to their mentor and group members when they wish. Mentors participate in a Mentor Peer Group and share mentoring strategies and challenges. The Department of Education provides financial support for mentor teachers at a public school on a per-session basis.
Professional development programmes
NYC Men Teach organises professional development programmes to support beginning teachers on a variety of topics, including lesson planning sessions, workshops and panel discussions. Equity and social justice issues are embedded in most aspects of the programmes. Furthermore, professional development programmes focus on culturally responsive education, restorative practices, and mastery-based learning throughout the school year to provide spaces to discuss issues around race, gender and ethnicity.
Hub School Network
The NYC Men Teach Hub School Network seeks to build wider school partnerships, thereby promoting the diversity of New York City. Schools participating in the Network select potential mentors who can share their experience as a male teacher and/or experience supporting male teachers of colour. The training sites are also expected to contribute to professional development sessions, foster a positive school culture, open their doors to NYC Men Teach participants and visitors, and consider NYC Men Teach new teachers through NYC Men Teach.
The OECD Review Team in its visit to the United States from 25-28 October 2016 concluded that the NYC Men Teach initiative was a strength in that it:
The OECD Review Team also noted that:
This case study describes a “Promising practice” drawn from an OECD review of Initial Teacher Preparation in the United States from 25-28 October 2016.
The OECD Review Team identified a number of “Promising practices” in each country. These practices may not be widespread or representative, but seen in the context of other challenges, they represent a strength or opportunity to improve the country’s initial teacher preparation system – and for other countries to learn from them.
This work is published under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD. The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views of OECD member countries.
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