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Small but Mighty

Small but Mighty: Lessons from Black Teachers’ Experiences in Allegheny County

RFA studied why Black teachers were leaving their jobs more than White teachers in Allegheny County from 2014 to 2020. RFA analyses have found that the number of Black teachers in the area was consistently dropping, more than the decrease in the overall Black population. To understand this decline and to bring Black teacher experiences into sharper focus, we engaged with 38 Black teachers through interviews and focus groups in our community-informed research project.

Here’s what we discovered.

Unique Contributions:

  • Black teachers bring special connections with Black students, driven by shared backgrounds and experiences.
  • They invest time and energy intentionally, forming strong relationships.
  • Representation of Black teachers is crucial.

Pedagogical Approaches

  • They employ culturally relevant teaching practices.
  • They maintain high expectations for students.
  • They use alternative discipline strategies.

Challenges They Face

  • Black teachers deal with microaggressions, harm from White colleagues, and unfair treatment from White administrators.
  • They experience heavier workloads and racism toward students.

Despite these challenges, many Black teachers in Allegheny County plan to stay. They are driven by their love for students, positive school culture, supportive networks, and personal investment in their careers.

The report also offers insights into the working conditions for Black teachers and provides recommendations for policymakers, school leaders, teacher diversity initiatives, and the wider community.