How to Build Culturally Affirming Schools, According to Over 100 Black Teachers

Recruiting a diverse staff and building a “family-like” school culture are among the key action steps more than 100 Black educators recommend school leaders follow in a recent report released by Teach Plus and the Center for Black Educator Development.

The paper presented the findings of focus groups conducted during the spring and summer of 2020, compiling the perspectives of 105 Black teachers from across 12 states. Educators in the group had an average of 12 years of classroom experience, though some were newer to teaching and others were more veteran.

The report offers key insights on how to build school environments that feel welcoming for Black educators, such as ensuring that curricula include the perspectives of historically underrepresented groups. The authors also recommend that leaders provide opportunities for teachers of color to participate in mentorship programs and focus groups to debrief their experiences, especially in schools with majority-white faculty, where Black, Indigenous, Hispanic or Asian educators may be one of just a few colleagues who share their racial identity.

“It is imperative that leaders cultivate a culture where families and communities have a platform to advocate for their kids and are given opportunities to play a role in decisions that impact learning and student success,” said Mississippi teacher leader Nicole Moore, who was featured in the paper.

The group of Black educators who spoke to Teach Plus and the Center for Black Educator Development identified key recommendations for school leaders looking to foster more welcoming environments for their teachers of color. The paper includes practical resources such as self-reflection worksheets for teachers to help examine their own biases and tools to deepen curricular materials with real-world examples that relate to students’ own lived experiences.

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