Induction experiences of minority teachers in a rural Mississippi school district
The induction experiences of minority educators in a rural Mississippi School District were sought for this qualitative study. In a district of 196 teachers, only 54 were minority educators and of that number only 22 taught core subject courses. Interviews were conducted with 11 minority educators, 20% of the entire population of minority educators in the district. What emerged in the analysis of the interview data presented was not only discussion about their induction experiences but the unavoidable themes of race and prejudice and how they impact their professional lives and how an induction program may serve as a tool not only for support but for initiating true change. Critical Race Theory provided the theoretical backdrop against which the interviews and resulting conversations were conducted and later analyzed. Comprehensive teacher induction programs have been heralded for the systemic and systematic supports they offer new and beginning teachers to the field of education and new to districts; their impact in retention has been well documented, especially in other industrialized countries around the world. Though other countries routinely offer induction, by and large, induction programs are not consistently offered in our educational system with resulting factors of not only a revolving door among our teacher population but the inconsistency in our teacher population directly correlates to waning student achievement. In the United States, billions of dollars are spent each year in teacher turnover and the recruiting of new teachers. For minority educators, the idea of induction is even more significant as their presence in our nation’s classrooms is getting progressively smaller with each passing year while our minority student populations rise. Presently, minority teachers comprise only 18% of the entire teaching population of over 2,000,000. For many minority educators, the class composition, location and context of the school community or financial gain are far less important than truly positively impacting the lives of their students. Studies show that the impact minority educators have on student achievement, particularly minority students is tangible and massive but often what drives them to leave the profession is a lack of support, visibility, networking and input, much of what induction programs tend to offer. The findings here are consistent with much of what research shares about the experiences of minority educators no matter the setting, rural or urban, and suggest the need for not only further research but a greater awareness for the racism inherent in certain policies and practices in schools and putting in place structures to eliminate them. The findings further support the pressing need for comprehensive teacher induction programs in this country’s educational system as tool for support and a catalyst for change.