Federal, state, and district leaders have recognized the need to diversify the teaching workforce, and many are already working to recruit diverse teachers. But the story doesn’t end at getting more teachers from diverse backgrounds into classrooms. Retaining and developing those teachers once they have been hired also needs attention. Understanding the unique needs of teachers of color starts with listening to and learning from their experiences. Ed Trust researchers have done just that.

Through Our Eyes: Perspectives and Reflections From Black Teachers” represents the qualitative data Ed Trust collected from focus group sessions of 150 Black teachers from across the country.

With African Americans making up only 7 percent of the teaching workforce, “Through Our Eyes” adds some of the much-needed substance that has been absent from the teacher diversity conversation. It uncovers the challenges Black teachers face in classrooms and schools, surfacing issues that contribute to low retention rates among teachers of color.

Certain recurring themes were eye-opening:

  • Teachers who had a penchant for teaching and serving Black students well found themselves restricted to only teaching Black students.
  • Teachers were reduced to disciplinarians instead of being respected for their ability to manage their classrooms.
  • Teachers who put in extra time and effort still weren’t heard in staff meetings.

Through Our Eyes” pulls the wool back to reveal the distinct experience of African American teachers, through their own words, as they work to serve the needs of an increasingly diverse student population in schools across the nation.

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