A Role Model Like Me Is Important In Teaching

A U.S. News & World Report article on a recent study measured the impact on low-income, black boys if they had one black teacher as a role model during elementary school. Minority students need to see teachers who look like them. With just ONE teacher who looked like them, they were 39 percent less likely to drop out and 29 percent more likely to say that college was in their future.

Cultural identity seems to be a factor that students connect with.  An immediate sense of trust develops with teachers of same race/ethnic background. If someone like the student is in a some professional role, they think they can be like that person.

SPC’s College of Education’s Dr. Susan Blanchard said, “We need minority teachers,” and we need to keep them.

Black teachers seem to have higher educational expectations of black students.  This increases the aspirations and engagement of those students.  Inadvertent bias held by teachers may be a factor in the achievement gap.  When evaluating the same black student, non-black teachers expected less from students, according to a John Hopkins survey.  Non-black teachers presumed the student was 30 percent less able to graduate from a four-year college.  White teachers thought 40 percent of black male and female students would not graduate high school.

The Shanker Institute Fall 2015 report found teachers of color in nine major cities from 1987-2012 were being recruited at a slightly higher rate as white teachers.  Unfortunately over the  time period, black teachers were leaving the profession at a higher rate. Reasons stated were placement in hard-to-staff schools with high poverty rates, working conditions, and feeling unappreciated.

US News & World Report

Excellent teachers are the main determinant of in school success for all children.
All children benefit from varied backgrounds, races and ethnic groups of their teachers.  What can be done to increase retention for their role model?

Some Suggestions for Role Model Retention:
  • A mentoring period for teachers
  • Salary increases over successful mentoring period with higher salaries
    Michael Wiggs, 4th grade teacher and SPC grad, Minority Teacher  Ed Scholarship recipient


  • Supportive administrative team – diversity training needed for colleagues’ support
  • Continuing education for teachers
  • Ability to meet career ambitions
  • Community support – appeal to minority family involvement
  • Personnel should mirror student enrollment; professional role models are needed
  • Look at retention rates for new teachers over specified time periods.
In conclusion, to be successful in keeping ALL role models, developing teacher recruitment initiatives seems to go hand in hand with retention initiatives.
Scholarship for Minority Teacher Education (MTES) are now open for Spring 2018 applications and will close Nov. 1, 2018. See if you qualify.

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