Building a Grow Your Own Program to Develop a Diverse and Critically Conscious Teacher Workforce

Margarita Bianco, University of Colorado Denver

A volume in the series: Contemporary Perspectives on Access, Equity, and Achievement. Editor(s): Chance W. Lewis, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

For several decades, school leaders across the country have been dealing with critical teacher shortages. Although the shortage is due to numerous factors, this crisis has recently worsened with an unprecedented number of teachers retiring or leaving the profession due to burnout and other factors related to the Covid 19 pandemic. Education leaders not only face urgent demands to fill vacancies, but they also grapple with the need to increase the diversity of their educator workforce.

Grow Your Own (GYO) programs are designed to recruit teacher candidates from nontraditional pipelines who are more likely to represent the racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity of their communities. Community responsive GYO programs have been suggested as a viable solution to filling critical teacher vacancies while simultaneously building an urgently needed diverse teacher workforce (Carver-Thomas, 2018; Rogers-Ard, Knaus, Bianco, Brandehoff & Gist, 2019). Given the racial and ethnic diversity found in our public school student population, it makes good sense to recruit future teachers from this talent pool, however, student interest in exploring teaching as a profession has been in steady decline in recent years (Crof, Guffy, Vitale, 2018). This is true for students of color in general and especially true for young men of color (Goings & Bianco, 2016). This is troubling considering decades of research illustrating the academic and social / emotional benefit all students have by experiencing school with a diverse teacher workforce (Gay, Dingus & Jackson, 2003)

Given the national teacher shortage crisis coupled with a critical need to diversify our educator workforce, school leaders need a book addressing how to develop a successful community responsive GYO program. Building on the author’s extensive experience developing and sustaining Pathways2Teaching®, a successful national high school GYO program, this book provides explicit examples of how to elevate and promote the teaching profession to historically marginalized students as an act of radical love and social justice. The reader will learn ways to implement the critical components of a justice and equity perspective for cultivating an interest in teaching and growing a new generation of community responsive educators - including methods for attracting young men of color into the profession. Throughout the book, important concepts are illustrated through the real-life stories of students in GYO programs.

Chapter 1: Why GYO? Why Now? Chapter 2: Building a Coalition of the Willing: Creating a Sustainable GYO Model. Chapter 3: Education as Liberation: Building a GYO Curriculum Designed to Attract Historically Marginalized Youth. Chapter 4: Teacher Selection: Picking your “Rida” for Successful GYO programs. Chapter 5: No GPA Requirement? Redefining the “Best and the Brightest” and addressing the Importance of Casting the Widest Net. Chapter 6: Critical Components of a Successful GYO Program Designed for Maximum Student Engagement. Chapter 7: Narrowing the racial / gender gap: Building GYO programs to attract young men of color as future educators. Chapter 8: It’s Not Just About Growing Your Own – It’s Also About Keeping Your Own.