In Massachusetts and across the nation, educators are coming off of several years like no other — years that have asked more of teachers and leaders than ever before. Burnout and exhaustion are real concerns as districts work to support and retain educators. Nationwide, approximately 8 percent of teachers leave the profession each year, and another 8 percent switch schools or districts. These rates are higher in schools in districts serving more students of color, and among teachers of color compared to their white peers. This higher attrition rate, in addition to the relatively low number of educators of color in our state, spotlights the urgent need to build anti-racist school cultures that support and elevate educators of color.
The responsibility for retaining educators of color lies with state-, district- and school-level leaders, who work to build inclusive school cultures that support and value educators of color. This work requires adaptive work of individual reflection and interrogation of one's own mindset, action and biases, and the technical work of changing practices and systems. DESE supports include:
"It is important to be direct and transparent in the desire to engage in anti-racist practices. Yes, we want to be authentic and affirming, but, as an administrator of color, nothing is more affirming to me than when the leadership of my district acknowledges that past practices have fallen short with respect to this goal."
Support staff of color in your school and/or district to create racial affinity spaces, which are ongoing, protected, separate spaces for educators of color to come together in community and mutual support. Given the unique challenges facing educators of color, and when paired with ongoing systems-level work towards anti-racism, affinity spaces can be important networks for educators of color to collaborate and support each other through problems of practice. Learn more about how Ashley Davis and other educators at the Pauline D. Shaw Elementary School in Boston leverage affinity spaces to work towards an anti-racist school and workplace on the Equity and Instruction blog.
"In my time in education, it's been predominantly a white space, and so it's been really powerful to be around folx who have lived experiences like mine. It becomes exhausting to name the challenges but it's really reassuring to be in a space where everyone has experienced what it feels like to be 'othered', and also simultaneously figure out, 'How can we collectivize our strength to make education more inclusive for kids who look like us?'"
Dr. Sana Shaikh
For their contributions to this module, we'd like to thank DESE's Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, feedback, or for additional support and partnership around any of the practices and resources included in this guide.
Last Updated: August 30, 2022
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