Black Male Teachers: Volume 1

Cover of Black Male Teachers

Table of contents

(29 chapters)
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Dedication

Page xi
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Black Male Teachers: Diversifying the United States’ Teacher Workforce, is the first book in the series, Advances in Race and Ethnicity in Education. The book represents a collective effort between research scholars, policy experts, and in-service Black Male Teachers. Through this book, we affirm the values of teacher preparation that we introduced in our call for chapters. Black Male Teachers is a book to provide Black male teachers with the resources to advance in the profession, teacher education programs with needed training materials to accommodate Black male students, and school district administrators with information to help recruit and retain Black male teachers. Each chapter features policy and practice recommendations and a case example to spur action and increase opportunities for discussion.

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Currently, the field of education has been seeking innovative strategies to increase the representation of Black male teachers in U.S. classrooms. In this chapter, the author presents a status report of Black male teachers’ path to U.S. K-12 public school classrooms at six critical stages. These stages include the following: (a) Black males with a high school diploma; (b) enrollment in educator preparation programs; (c) educator preparation program completers; (d) educator preparation programs with the highest number of Black male graduates; (e) Black male education degree holders that select teaching as a profession; and (f) the current status of Black male teachers in U.S. K-12 public schools. Based on the data presented in this chapter, recommendations are provided to the field of education to improve their representation for the benefit of all students. Additionally, the critical need for this timely book is discussed.

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This chapter provides commentary on the causes and consequences of having a majority white and female teaching force in a diverse school system, as well as strategies to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion among P-12 teachers and students. The chapter also addresses the key reason why Black males are underrepresented in the U.S. teaching force.

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Scholarly literature on Black teachers has traditionally depicted a cultural connectedness between Black teachers and Black students. Drawing upon one set of findings from a broader qualitative study on the experiences of 11 Black male teachers in a predominantly Black urban school district, this chapter explores the intraracial divides that confounded study participants’ relationships with Black students and local Black communities. By charting the contested terrains of Black identity politics within urban schools and their surrounding neighborhoods, this chapter reveals the need for critical considerations of how Black male educators can respond to the heterogeneous and evolving nature of Black identities in contemporary American society. Several strategies are offered to enable Black male teachers to negotiate the intraracial differences that may emerge in their work with Black students.

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It is vitally important that students have access to teachers who are effective and broadly representative of our society. Yet in urban areas such as New York City (NYC), many teachers lack experience or appropriate qualifications and there is a profound mismatch between the racial composition of the teacher workforce and the composition of students served. Paraprofessionals, individuals who work under the supervision of a teacher to provide instruction or other direct services to students, represent a significant pool of minority teacher candidates. In NYC, paraprofessionals employed by the Department of Education (DOE) may receive tuition support and release time as they pursue higher education. Analysis of the participation and success of NYC DOE paraprofessionals enrolled in The City University of New York (CUNY) sheds light on the potential for paraprofessionals to become teachers and diversify the teaching workforce.

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Black male teachers represent between two and five percent of the teaching force, yet many research studies have suggested the importance of their presence in the classroom. While most research focuses on the necessity of a larger force of Black male teachers to serve as role models for Black male students, minimal research examines their importance in teaching Black female students. In addition to this lack of research, teacher-training programs, even those that tailor their programming toward Black men, do little to address issues of teaching across gender. This phenomenon has implications for Black male teacher retention, Black female student success, and improved gender dynamics in the Black community. This chapter highlights the dynamics of teaching across gender through review of the literature and a case study. It presents the Gender Dynamic Awareness Model, a conceptual framework for use in teacher training that addresses five factors for Black men to consider when teaching Black female students.

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In an effort to diversify the nation’s teaching force, the U.S. Department of Education has initiated programs to increase teachers of color in U.S. schools, particularly Black male teachers in subject areas like mathematics. In that Black male mathematics teachers continue to be under researched, particularly in urban school contexts, it was critical that their cases were (1) documented and analyzed in an effort to better understand their experiences and practices, and (2) utilized to inform teacher recruitment efforts. In this chapter, we present the case of Floyd Lee, a Black male mathematics teacher who participated in an NSF-funded research study of Black Algebra 1 teachers teaching in an urban school district. We present experiences that appear to influence his practice and consider how his case, and other cases like Floyd’s, might inform efforts to increase the number of Black male mathematics teachers in U.S. schools.

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In response to the crisis affecting black boys in public schools (skewed numbers of black boys out of school on suspension and referred for special education services, as well as low high school graduation rates), the researcher sought to amplify the voices of black male teachers who serve as walking counter-narratives for the boys they teach and with whom they interact on a daily basis (Lynn, 2006). This narrative study focuses on the interviews of four black male K-12 teachers, born between 1972 and 1987. The researcher listened to these teachers’ stories, observed selectivities, and silences (Casey, 1993), and looked for the patterns that arose among the educational, experiential, and cultural experiences that these teachers have had. Four themes emerged that addressed the influences on these men’s decisions to become K-12 teachers: the separate becomes connected, and the self is transformed; Black woman as inspiration; it takes a village; and transforming society by fighting students.I walk into the facility, and there was a little kid. He walks up to me and he, like he hits me on my arm, and he said, you know, uh, “Come and help me with my homework.” The kid doesn’t know me; I don’t know who this kid is and uh … I walk over, and I begin to help the kid with his homework, and when I started doing that, it was like, almost like immediately I knew for the first time this was the thing, this was the area I really wanted to be a part of … uhm … words can’t really explain it, but it was like something within myself I really knew this was the thing I’ve been missing. You know, this was the part that’s been missing for a while. This was the avenue that I been searching for. –Mr. Matthew Jamison

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African American male teachers are increasingly becoming an endangered species among the profession of education in the public, private, and higher sectors. Working with African American males at a predominately white institution (PWI), these students are often overlooked and overburdened with outliving stereotypes that are expected of them via the media montage that has been presented by mainstream America. Fortunately, these men often arise and surpass the status quo and become what W.E.B. DuBois surmises as the talented tenth. In a candid interview with the two African American males, out of the 1,200 students who are in the teacher education program at this PWI, the students talk explicitly on how to recruit and retain African American males, like themselves, through examples, mentors, and role models that will affect the decision of future male teachers and cultivate the African American male teachers who are currently in the program. Using a qualitative research design, the students will answer several hypotheses that will allow one a closer look into the world of young African American male teacher perspectives in the PWI.

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Simultaneously drawing from DuBois’ timeless question, “How does it feel to be a problem?” (DuBois, 1990[1903], p. 7) and contemporary notions that Black males are the solution to solving social and educational troubles in the Black community such as gang violence, high school dropout rates, and fatherless homes (Duncan, 2011), we focus on the positioning of Black males in the discourse on teacher recruitment and retention. While acknowledging the need to recruit and retain Black male teachers, we explore the weightiness of viewing Black males as the panacea for educational and social issues in schools such as disproportionate dropout and expulsion rates for students of color and youth involvement in gangs. We identify both challenges and opportunities faced by Black males and capture the complex and sometimes contradictory discourses. Particular attention is given to deconstructing the “double-talk” (Black males as both a problem and a solution) which positions Black male teachers as both the crisis and the savior/superhero.

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This chapter describes a precollegiate course designed to encourage high school students of color to explore teaching and presents the findings from case studies on two Black male students enrolled in the course who are now preparing to pursue a career in teaching. The research questions guiding the two case studies include: (a) What factors influence Black males to consider teaching? (b) What roles do race, ethnicity, and school experiences play in Black males’ exploration of teaching? and (c) What aspects of the course are most influential in Black males’ exploration of teaching and related fields? The results of these case studies expose the complexity of effective recruitment of Black male teachers. The insights provided by these two teens can provide substantial guidance for the improvement of educational policy and practice in order to increase the recruitment and retention of Black male teachers.

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In segregated elementary and high schools, African American male teachers played the role of mentor in the lives of African American male students which included serving as role model, authority figure, counselor, emotional and academic supporter, encourager, and community activist. The seven men interviewed for this study believed that African American male teachers can serve these same roles in today’s schools as they assist African American males and other students of color in navigating through the sometime difficult maze of what it takes to successfully complete high school and postsecondary degrees. Factors are also noted that may encourage or discourage African American males’ entry into the teaching profession.

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Teaching has been a passion of mine from an early age. Making the decision to teach was challenging enough without the hardships of completing my degree as a race and gender minority in the elementary education program at a predominately White institution. Nor was I prepared to manage the many challenges associated with transition into the teaching profession. This chapter is a memoir of a few significant lessons learned during my teacher preparation and early professional teaching practice. Specific recommendations are made to support Black males’ ability to: build and cultivate professional relationships with school stakeholders; capitalize on the range of professional opportunities available in the field of education; and sustain an impactful career in K-12 teaching. Finally, this narrative is revelation of the personal and professional perspectives useful to individual(s) desiring to better recruit, retain, prepare, support, and nurture Black males aspiring to teach.

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They Deserve It

Pages 185-192

After 10 years of teaching, my feelings, and opinions are based on experiences in the classroom and my own life. By no means am I an expert with immense amount of statistics and graphs. I teach from the heart and in these pages, I wrote from the heart. I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of children in three different school districts. These districts had varying demographics, but in each the black or African American population was a significant number. I currently teach in a city that has been ranked among some of the worst in the country in terms of both crime and education and academic performance. However, each child that walks through my classroom door is as precious as any other on the planet. They deserve my best!

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My chapter includes a discussion of various elements throughout my life that were very influential for the attainment of a successful education that I believe can also help other Black male students receive a successful education. The chapter begins with an explanation of why I became a teacher and my passions to enhance the education of Black male students with the use of the same influential elements that enhanced my education. The influential elements I highlighted are opportunity and exposure, discipline and accountability, recognition, and mentorship. I compared and contrasted the effects of these elements on my life with others who lacked these same elements, and provided examples of what I observe today as an educator in reference to these elements. I further speak about how I have implemented these elements in my classroom and in my interactions with young Black males today. Finally, I provide possible solutions to reshape the image and education of Black male students and create a positive impact on future generations. When a Black male student has an exemplar of an educated professional to emulate they can gain motivation to strive for academic greatness that will bring them true greatness rather than fighting and dying in the streets over false opportunities. Ultimately, Black male students will strive for academic greatness, which is truly … an opportunity to die for.

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The concept of diversity in education is often a starting point for dialogue regarding the persistent achievement gap in American classrooms. However, simply advocating for diversity without recommending or adopting strategies to achieve diversity does not necessarily create the forum for fruitful dialogue. Various educational institutions and organizations pay lip service to the concept of diversity without actually engaging in practices to increase diversity. The state of education in our nation’s most impoverished and marginalized communities can be affectively addressed through various strategies, including increasing diversity among our teaching force. Nevertheless, even organizations like Teach for America, who recognize the importance of bringing diversity to the classroom, struggle to recruit, train, and retain African-American and Latino male teachers. This is truly a troubling circumstance because educating our African-American and Latino male students have proven to be a task that we as a nation are wholly inept and dreadfully incapable of accomplishing. If we are to provide better educational services for our most at-risk populations of students, we as a society must no longer simply pay lip service to diversity. We must devise complex strategies to bring diversity into our nation's classrooms in order to diversity our teacher workforce, and more effectively recruit, train, and retain African-American and Latino male teachers.

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Teachers are more than just instructors. Teachers are counselors and mentors; teachers guide students and prepare them for the world. Part of that preparation includes being transparent about the challenges that await them in addition encouraging students that they are capable in overcoming them all. Preparing students in that way requires teachers understand both the socioeconomic and sociohistorical psychology of their students, which impact their experiences and circumstances. For African American male students, an African American male teacher provides a natural harmony of understanding these very experiences and circumstances. This is not to say that only an African American male can teach African American male students, rather the unique experiences central to the Black male experience in America require educators who desire to speak of those experiences in the classroom in an attempt to both equip students with the necessary academic and interpersonal skills for their success in life. In the case of the African American male teacher, he not only can speak to the Black male experience in America, he lives it daily. This testimonial is from an African American male teacher who believes that as an African American male who teaches, he has the unique opportunity to mentor and disciple his Black male students through honesty and transparency rather than through “protecting” them from the realities that await them.

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African American male teachers are the nation’s most academically credentialed and professionally experienced teachers. Though less than 2 percent of the nation’s teachers are African American males, these teachers are more likely than their White male and female peers to hold a master’s or doctorate degree. Additionally, African American male teachers who become principals assume the position with more years of experience as a PK-12 classroom teacher than their White peers. And, those who leave the principalship to become superintendents have more years of experience as a PK-12 principal than similarly situated White peers. Why, then, are African American males underrepresented in critical school district policy and leadership posts such as the principalship and superintendency while lesser credentialed and experienced White males hold these posts in percentages that exceed their representation in the teacher workforce? This chapter reviews data about African American male teachers and the school leadership pipeline and proposes a series of policy recommendations to increase representation of African American males in the PK-12 teacher and school leadership workforces.

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Spearman’s rank correlation coefficients were calculated from data based on a sample of African American males pursuing education degrees who completed the National Survey of Student Engagement. The statistical results included positive correlations highlighting the relationship between academic experiences and educational outcomes. Applying student development research, implications for teacher education programs are discussed.

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Across the United States, black male teachers are underrepresented throughout the K-12 education pipeline. The teachers of black males are frequently white and female and rarely black and male. Increasingly, school systems are expressing the need for more black male teachers in the classroom. We both are very excited that Black Male Teachers: Diversifying the United States’ Teacher Workforce is being published as a part of our book series with Emerald Group Publishing. We believe that the edited volume sheds light on a very important education concern. We also think that the edited volume is an excellent book to launch the new series, Advances in Race and Ethnicity in Education.

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About the Authors

Pages 265-274

Chike Akua is a doctoral student in educational policy studies at Georgia State University. A former middle school teacher, Akua taught in public schools for 15 years. During his tenure as a teacher, he was selected as a Teacher of the Year in the State of Virginia and acknowledged for exemplary teaching and service in Georgia. Akua is the author of widely disseminated instructional materials and children's literature and has led principal and teacher workshops for more than 500 U.S. schools and school districts. His book A Treasure Within: Stories of Remembrance and Rediscovery was nominated for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Award for Outstanding Contribution to Children's Literature.

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Chance W. Lewis is the Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Full Professor and Endowed Chair of Urban Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Additionally, Dr. Lewis is the Executive Director of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Urban Education Collaborative, which is publishing a new generation of research on improving urban schools. Dr. Lewis received his B.S. and M.Ed. in Business Education and Education Administration/Supervision from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dr. Lewis completed his doctoral studies in Educational Leadership/Teacher Education from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.

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Chance W. Lewis is the Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Full Professor and Endowed Chair of Urban Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Additionally, Dr. Lewis is the Executive Director of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Urban Education Collaborative, which is publishing a new generation of research on improving urban schools. Dr. Lewis received his B.S. and M.Ed. in Business Education and Education Administration/Supervision from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dr. Lewis completed his doctoral studies in Educational Leadership/Teacher Education from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.

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Cover of Black Male Teachers
DOI
10.1108/S2051-2317(2013)1
Publication date
2013-04-04
Book series
Advances in Race and Ethnicity in Education
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78190-622-4
eISBN
978-1-78190-622-4
Book series ISSN
2051-2317