An ethnic studies teacher discusses the experiences, histories, politics, literatures and triumphs of people of color. This includes American Indians, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Latino Americans. In your lectures and discussions, you will talk about the social, political economic and even cultural dimensions surrounding race and racism. You will help your students understand that racial classifications don’t stay the same and that they evolve constantly. You’ll not only be focusing your discussions on ethnicities but will also delve on gender studies, women’s studies and related areas as well.
As a postsecondary ethnic studies teacher, it will be your responsibility to facilitate discussions in the classroom. While you will certainly lead the lecture on the topic that you will be talking about for that particular day, you will also encourage students to contribute and share their thoughts on the subject. You will make and provide them with handouts and other course materials so that they will be guided accordingly. To gauge their knowledge, you will make them take tests, given them assignments and do research work. Like other teachers, you will grade them and ensure that you have records of their attendance and grades.
In order to provide the most up-to-date information about the subject to your students, it is your responsibility to stay current about the field. To do this, you will read literature and research studies, join seminars and conferences and discuss developments with your colleagues. You would also need to do your own research and publish your findings in journals, the school website, your own blog and other electronic media.
Other activities that you can expect to do outside of the classroom include maintaining office hours to help students with their academic requirements, writing grant proposals to get funding for research, evaluating and coming up with curricula and methods of instruction and serving on various committees.
To succeed in this profession, you will need to have excellent communication skills. As an ethnic studies teacher, you will need to engage the students in your lectures and this requires a clear and strong voice as well as an engaging personality. Since you will be doing your own research work, you also need to be a critical thinker and possess good writing skills. Creativity and resourcefulness are also important traits of an ethnic studies teacher.
One of the reasons to become an ethnic studies teacher is because you truly have a passion for teaching. You can also derive satisfaction from knowing that the subject you teach contributes to a greater understanding of the different racial groups in the United States and prevent cases of racial discrimination that only polarizes people. Another reason to become an ethnic studies teacher is that it allows you to delve deeper on topics about the field that you are very interested in by doing your own research.
On the more practical aspects, the employment outlook of postsecondary teachers is expected to be good in the coming years. It’s also a position that pays very decently.
Ethnic Studies Teacher Work Environment
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that 75 percent of postsecondary teachers, ethnic studies teachers included, worked for colleges, universities and professional schools while 21 percent were employed by junior colleges. The rest were hired by other types of schools such as technical and trade schools and business schools.
They typically hold classes in the mornings, although there may also be schedules in the evenings and weekends for students who work and won’t be able to attend regular classes. In the summer, some may teach summer classes but majority of the postsecondary teachers do field work and research. After classes, they also hold regular office hours to help students with their research or assignments. However, they generally have the freedom to set their own schedules on where and what time they will do their other work, such as preparing for their classes and grading papers.
Ethnic Studies Teacher Salary
The May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage for postsecondary area, ethnic and cultural studies teachers is $77,550. Those teaching in colleges, universities and professional schools received higher pay at $79,860 compared to those in junior colleges who were paid $60,830. The states where area, ethnic and cultural studies teachers received the highest pay included Virginia ($117,670), Florida ($105,860), Massachusetts ($103,750), Minnesota ($96,030) and New York ($95,100).
Ethnic Studies Teacher Career Outlook
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the employment rate of postsecondary school teachers, is expected to be very rosy with an employment growth rate of 19 percent for the period covering 2012 to 2022. The growth rate of area, ethnic and cultural studies teachers is set slightly lower at 16 percent for the same period. Thus, from the 12,400 of them hired in 2012, their number is expected to increase to 14,300 in 2022.
While the job prospects are good, those who are gunning for tenure-track posts can expect to meet tough competition. This is because more educational institutions are hiring adjunct and part-time professors.
Ethnic Studies Teacher Degree
Postsecondary ethnic studies teacher typically need a doctoral degree in ethnic studies, Asian-American studies or related field. However, some community colleges may accept those with master’s degree. Before one can be awarded a PhD, one must do research and write a dissertation on a topic related to ethnic studies. Obtaining a four-year bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies or a similar field is a prerequisite for getting admitted to a master’s and then a doctoral program.
Postsecondary ethnic studies teachers strive to get tenure so that they can attain job security. When a professor is already tenured, the school cannot just boot him out without giving a just cause for it. It can take as long as seven years for an ethnic studies teacher to become tenured.