2020 Diversity & Equity in Education Campaign
-Jennifer Jilot, teacher and teacher educator based on a reservation in Montana
“It is imperative that American Indian people find their voice in classrooms not only to provide a role model for Indian children unsure of the future they hold in society, but to dispel stereotypes and prejudices as teachers in America’s schools.”
Recruiting Tip #5:
Listen to Voices of Lived Experience
When it comes to Native American education, there is a long history of people being ignored, or even erased from traditional schooling. Seek out resources like Teach for America’s Native Alliance program, and/or work with area tribal councils to begin clear communication about how your school or district can really listen to the needs of both students and educators to build a more inclusive school for all.
- Native American educators make up a very small fraction of the Unites States’ teaching force; less than 1 percent.
- Recruitment and retention efforts should be bolstered by using resources specifically informed by Native American guidance and expertise, as well as diversity experts in the field.
- Native American students have historically and routinely experienced unfair treatment in formal education settings, and hiring Native American teachers can help improve school culture and conditions for all students, and help repair trust moving forward.
How to Find Resources to Recruit and Retain Native American Educators
Creating a more diverse and inclusive school or district requires taking a hard look at some of the students—and teachers—who are too often left behind and left out of the conversation.
One such group that has long experienced numerous challenges in the U.S. education system is Native Americans. As thoroughly reported in The New York Times recently, Native American students not only significantly struggle with academics, but also have a range of challenges with behavioral and emotional wellness, include higher risk for suicide than their peers.
But there is some hope on the horizon. The recently passed “Every Student Succeeds Act” does lay out some important supportsfor Native American students, including a call for more involvement and consult with tribal councils. As for school recruiters and district leaders looking to bring in more Native American teachers to support all students, there is plenty of work to do. According to Teach for America’s Native Alliance program, “less than 1 percent of our country’s teachers identify as American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian.” And, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the already low number of Native American teachers in the classroom dropped from 1% to less than 1% between 2003 and 2015.
In the end, increasing the number of Native American teachers in schools by any margin will be an achievement, and can bring some hope to Native students who too often feel “invisible.”
When working to recruit and retain teachers from all backgrounds, its important to draw on a wide variety of resources, and trust the experts. Seek out resources that amplify Native American voices to better understand how to best attract and retain Native American teachers, and also improve conditions for Native American students. DIVERSITY in Ed Magazine & Online Service has provided expert guidance to principals, recruiters, and teacher candidates themselves for over 15 years, and we’re happy to do our part to connect you to both resources, as well as talented teacher candidates.
JOIN THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
Stay tuned for next week’s post from DIVERSITY in Ed, and don’t forget about this fall’s incredible opportunity to connect with talented Black teacher candidates at this year’s Virtual Meet & Greet with Teachers of Color & Diverse Cultures. Ready to sign up? Get in touch with us today!