Reflections in the Mirror: A Study of How Graduate Schools of Education can Recruit, Retain, and Support Teachers of Color

My research focuses on the lack of diverse teachers in the American teacher workforce and what can be done to increase the amount of diversity we see amongst teachers in America. My research question is: Why is there a lack of diverse teachers in the American teacher workforce and what can be done in Graduate Schools of Education to recruit, retain, and support teachers of color to have career longevity in the classroom? I will conduct research and gather data, which is compiled though interviews with current students and faculty of the William and Mary School of Education and an extensive literature review. This data will allow me to identify the gaps that are present in the WM School of Education Diversity Recruitment techniques. Using the data I collected, I will create the plan for a program that could possibly be implemented at the College of William and Mary School of Education to help increase the number of diverse students graduating from the School of Education with the necessary toolkit to become a successful teacher in urban school districts.

For the first time in United States history, American public school classrooms are now comprised of a majority of students from racial minorities (Strauss, 2014). With a nation whose student population is becoming more and more diverse, the teachers in these classrooms do not reflect the diversity of their students. In order to effectively ensure that these students of minority backgrounds have every chance to succeed in education and in life, there must be more teachers of diverse backgrounds.

This summer I will be conducting interviews with current students and faculty at the William and Mary School of Education. I will use these interviews, along with my extensive literature review to create the framework for a program that is directed to recruiting, retaining, and supporting students of color to become teachers in low-income areas. This program will be implemented at the William and Mary School of Education and will be modeled after the programs at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education and the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Educations. These institutions are a part of the Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowships for Aspiring Teachers of Color, which provide fellows with a $30,000 stipend to apply toward the cost of a master’s degree at a participating graduate program as well as mentorship throughout the first few years of teaching. I would like to implement a similar fellowship with a small cohort of students at the WM School of Education, and this summer will allow me to do that.

For this project, I will be using a two-part methodological approach comprised of action research methodology and analytical surveys methodology. Because one of the major goals of my project is to promote change in the American teacher workforce, I display features of the action research methodology, which places an emphasis on promoting change within an organization or an institution. The eventual outcome of my research will be a program to help develop and support more teachers of color, and this aligns well with the description of action research. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of my program, I will be using analytical surveys. These surveys will display both quantitative aspects, such as scales to rate the overall of effectiveness of the program, as well as qualitative aspects that will be able to allow the respondent to describe parts of the program that were effective and parts that should be changed. The methods that I will be using to collect the data for my project will be pilot interviews with students from the College of William and Mary’s School of Education, as well as interviews with local school teachers. I will use this preliminary data collection, as well as an extensive literature review, to prepare for the implementation of my program.

The topic of my research developed from my experiences last summer in the William and Mary DC Summer Institutes. Last summer I conducted research on reducing financial disparities among schools, and this past semester I conducted an independent study on that topic and on the lack of diversity in teachers in the American Teacher workforce. I have also taken a class in Urban Education as well as Community Based Research Methods which has allowed me to combine my passion for urban education reform with the proper community based methodologies and tools to create meaningful and impactful change within the community.

In order to ensure that my research is thorough and done in a timely manner, I have created a rough timeline of how I will be conducting my research. I will start by having weekly check-ins with my advisor, Professor Anne Charity Hudley, in order to make sure I am going down the right path. I will also begin working on an extensive literature review involving sources about diversifying the American Teacher workforce. I will also conduct interviews with current students and faculty of the WM School of Education.

With my research, I create the plan for a program at the School of Education that helps to motivate more students of diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in education. By combining my research with the personal narratives of current students pursuing teacher careers, I will be able to obtain invaluable information on the world of education, and my future career trajectory will greatly be affected by all of the things I learn this summer.