Connecting with students isn’t just about producing good feelings. Researchers at UT Austin recently published the results of their study of black male teachers and students at the Manhood Development Program in Oakland, CA.

Their goal was to figure out which characteristics of the teachers’ interactions could be copied to improve educational outcomes. It’s a concern because black male students’ educational success still lags behind other groups.

The study’s findings offer practical actions teachers can take to successfully teach students of color. Recommendations include:

  • Increasing pathways for a more diverse teacher population to enter the field.
  • Creating teacher education programs that develop cultural competency for pre-service and in-service teachers.
  • Designing professional development programs that help teachers understand the politicized and racialized dimensions of caring in service of deeper student-teacher relationships.

 “We have all heard the expression, ‘Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,’” says assistant professor of STEM education Sepehr Vakil, one of the study’s co-authors. “Yet caring is a complex human phenomenon, and it requires more of teachers than good intentions.”

The study was recently published in Teachers College Record.

photo by Christina S. Murrey

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