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To Be Who We Are: Black Teachers on Creating Affirming School Cultures

September 28, 2021

A growing body of research underscores the importance of teacher diversity for student outcomes. At a time when our student population is increasingly more diverse and schools need more Black educators, the representation gap between teachers and students of color remains wide. To create greater diversity in the teaching profession, educational leaders must address the important questions of what affirming school conditions look like and what they can do to create those conditions, particularly for Black teachers. 

“To Be Who We Are: Black Teachers on Creating Affirming School Cultures,” looks directly at what Black teachers need to thrive in schools. Rooted in the voices and lived experiences of Black educators, the report lays out five conditions that Black teachers say are critical towards creating school cultures that affirm their identities. It includes tangible recommendations for teachers, school leaders, and district and state policymakers as they work to support and retain Black faculty.

Download the report

Read the press release

"To Be Who We Are" in the Media

Report: Create culturally affirming schools to address Black teacher turnover and retention (K-12 Dive)

Q&A With Sharif El-Mekki and Shareefah Mason: You Won’t Retain Black Teachers Without Transforming Your School Culture (Education Post)

New Report: How to Build Culturally Affirming Schools, According to Over 100 Black Teachers (The 74)

Philly needs more Black teachers. A new report shares insights on how to retain them. (Chalkbeat)

New Report Details What Black Educators Need to Thrive in School Settings (Cheddar News)

“There is broad agreement on the power and promise that Black teachers hold for not just students of color, but all students. At the same time, efforts to address low recruitment and high attrition rates of Black teachers and other teachers of color too often lack the depth and understanding required to build a culture that truly welcomes and supports these educators. The challenges to doing so are deeply embedded and calcified in our public schools. Undoing them will require intentional and comprehensive effort by teachers, principals, district and state leaders. The To Be Who We Are: Black Teachers on Creating Affirming School Cultures report gives all of us in education the tools and insights to begin this vital work in earnest.” —SHARIF EL-MEKKI, FOUNDER AND CEO OF THE CENTER FOR BLACK EDUCATOR DEVELOPMENT.

 

“When teachers of color thrive, so do students. This paper offers important guidance from Black teachers that will help to sustain teachers of color in the classroom, retain them in the profession, and ensure that students have access to the diverse, brilliant educators they deserve.” —LINDSAY SOBEL, TEACH PLUS INTERIM CEO.

 

"This consequential and collaborative effort between Teach Plus and the Center for Black Educator Development gets at the root of what Black teachers need to survive and thrive in schools. It addresses not only what an affirming school culture looks like but also provides clear and concise action steps teachers, educational leaders, and policymakers should take to transform school culture for Black teachers–in service of their students." —DR. TRAVIS J. BRISTOL, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY AND TEACH PLUS BOARD MEMBER.