Thursday, December 31, 2015

The underlying problem with teacher diversity initiatives | @ THE CHALKFACE

The underlying problem with teacher diversity initiatives | @ THE CHALKFACE:

The underlying problem with teacher diversity initiatives

There is a great deal now being written about the lack of diversity in the teacher workforce. It is typically boiled down to a black-white issue even though “teachers of color” can be defined more broadly to include other races and/or ethnicities. The simple binary of this debate also does not include the intersectionalities of social class, gender, and sexual orientation, for instance.
But this isn’t the issue I’m going to address.
When I wrote my dissertation on the lack of males in teaching, particularly at the elementary level, one of my primary goals was to justify the lack of teacher gender diversity as a problem worth solving. I’ve never been a huge proponent of using test scores to evaluate teachers; yet, I needed to investigate if there were any appreciable gains in student achievement as a result of more male teachers, or better outcomes if the student’s and the teacher’s gender matched. There were a lot of arguments being made that male teachers could squeeze better performance out of male students simply by being male.
I spoke with dozens of male teachers for the project. They all thought the issue was important, but none wanted to be the “male” teacher. They wanted to be “good” teachers. Very few actually took the issue seriously. And not one could come up with a common definition of what it meant to role model or teach specifically to male students. Implicitly, however, it seemed like a good idea to offer students a variety of life experiences throughout the course of their educational careers, which could mean increasing the diversity of teachers.
In my investigation of the research literature, I couldn’t find anything that definitively stated that matching teacher and student identity characteristics actually improved student outcomes. There was some modest improvements in student satisfaction, but nothing that stated that any student growth was attributable to a The underlying problem with teacher diversity initiatives | @ THE CHALKFACE: