An International Comparative Study of the Impact

of Diversity on School Communities

Building on the Canadian focused study described below, we hope to develop a Spencer Grant proposal that would enable cross-country comparative data to be collected on the impact of diversity on school communities.

Some possible comparisons include:

  • policies and statistics around diversity in the teaching profession with common survey elements that could be administered by teaching organizations in each context
  • school district level policies and practices related to equity, diversity and inclusion
  • common themes arising from school or classroom level action research projects

If you are interested to partner on this research, please get in touch:

Clea Schmidt from the University of Manitoba and Antoinette Gagné from the University of Toronto have submitted a funding proposal based on the summary below along with 5 collaborators from Manitoba and 5 from Ontario.

The Impact of Diverse Teachers on Canadian School

Communities: Summary of the Project

Problem/Issue: The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (2006) has identified a severe underrepresentation of visible minorities and Aboriginal peoples in the Canadian teaching force, resulting in a profound mismatch between the demographics of teacher and student populations. Such a mismatch has significant implications for school communities where many mainstream educators from dominant social groups struggle to meet minority students’ and parents’ needs (Causey, Thomas, & Armento, 2000), jeopardizing the social and academic success of diverse learners such as the many immigrant students in kindergarten to grade 12 (K-12) schools (Cummins, 2003).Recent policies and programs have prioritized social justice and equity initiatives to diversify the Canadian teaching force, support new teachers with explicit induction programs, and more appropriately engage diverse learners and families.

The proposed study investigates the impact of efforts to be more inclusive of cultural, linguistic, religious, gender, ability, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic diversity in Canadian schools, using mixed methods including action research to consider diverse teachers’ contributions to school communities in Ontario and Manitoba. Diverse teachers may include teachers of immigrant backgrounds (educated internationally or in Canada); teachers of Aboriginal backgrounds; male teachers inelementary schools; teachers of colour; and teachers who comprise religious, linguistic, socioeconomic, and/or cultural minorities among the Canadian teaching force, which remains predominantly white, middle class, monolingual English-speaking, Canadian-born, and female (Canadian Teachers’ Federation, 2006).

The main research question is: What is the impact of diverse teachers on Canadian school communities? Sub-questions include a) How diverse is the teaching force in Ontario and Manitoba? b) How many first and second generation immigrant teachers are employed in Ontario and Manitoba? c) What approach have two school boards adopted to diversify the teaching force and implement equity and inclusive education policies? d) What is the impact of action research designed to engage educators with issues of diversity, inclusion, and social justice? e) What are diverse teachers’, students’, colleagues’, administrators’, and parents’ perspectives on the contributions of diverse teachers in Canadian schools?

Contribution: No in-depth research has thus far gauged diverse teachers’ impacts in school communities comprised of very diverse learner populations. Numbers of immigrant teachers employed in Canadian schools are currently unknown, as is the impact of provincial and school board initiatives to induct a more diverse teaching force and to facilitate equity for and inclusion of diverse students and families. The proposed study will a) identify numbers of immigrant teachers employed in Ontario and Manitoba schools, b) describe the approach used at the board level to diversify the teaching force and implement equity and inclusive education policies, c) facilitate action research among diverse teachers to analyze their contributions to Canadian schools, and d) use research-creation in the form of a documentary film, original soundtrack, and website to mobilize knowledge about the impact of diverse teachers in Canadian schools.

Wider Benefit: The research will inform public policy in the areas of diversity, inclusive, and social justice education; educational leadership to promote diversity; and teacher education for diverse communities. Moreover, the research will provide nationally significant data for comparison with other diverse contexts such as Europe, where research is currently examining how ethnic and cultural minorities realize social, academic, and professional success.