Step 5: District Spotlight
Invest in mentorship and career ladders for current and aspiring teacher, school,
and district leaders.
Across New York State, school districts face a particular challenge recruiting and retaining men of color, who face unique obstacles in the workplace ranging from bias to being pigeon-holed into roles based on stereotypes of their race and gender.
That’s why in 2015 the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) launched the NYC Men Teach Program, which aims to increase the number of men of color in city classrooms by engaging, recruiting, and supporting candidates from before they even enter the field through their careers in the classroom.
Since it started, the program has recruited and retained 1,000 men of color to work in New York City classrooms. The percent of male teachers of color has increased from 8 percent to 13 percent during that time, according to the district.
A crucial feature of NYC Men Teach is that once participants enter the classroom, they receive guidance from mentors. Participants receive support in areas such as lesson planning, classroom management, and working with school administrators.
New York City recently released an evaluation of the program that was conducted by the research firm Westat. It found that “current NYC DOE teachers, who are already in schools, placed the greatest value on the mentoring that they are provided by virtue of their participation in the NYC Men Teach program.”
The evaluation described the impact as follows:
“NYC DOE participants who are current teachers reported that the most important program feature for them was support from NYC Men Teach mentor teachers. A total of 68% of NYC DOE Participant Survey respondents who are current teachers stated that support from a NYC Men Teach mentor teacher was important or very important. Although NYC DOE provides mentoring to teachers in their first year of teaching, the NYC Men Teach program provides two years of mentoring for program participants. In addition to extending the mentorship period, NYC Men Teach select and train their mentors to provide more socio-emotional support and support around culturally responsive teaching practices. Participants describe how their mentors, who were experienced teachers, provided them guidance and information with areas where they had limited knowledge or prior experience, including areas such as lesson planning, classroom management, and working with school administrators. There is also anecdotal evidence suggesting that the mentoring support also improves participant perception of the supportiveness of their school in general.”
As one NYC Men Teach participant told the study’s authors: “I can clearly see longevity in the career because of the mentors, like the anchor system that they have. It would help me see longevity within education, because there’s so many things that you’re doing your first year that unless someone’s there to help you with that, but also see the bigger picture, it’ll be very hard for a lot of people to stay.”
Looking forward, the NYC DOE plans to use information from the recently released analysis to strengthen the program based on participant feedback, particularly the pathway options for people interested in non-traditional ways of entering the profession and launching a school retention task force that will seek to better understand what additional supports men of color need to stay in the classroom.