Researcher Profile Podcast: Emily Coady - EdChoice
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  • Feb 05 2019

Researcher Profile Podcast: Emily Coady

Emily Coady talks about her path to education reform and what she's working on now

Emily Coady is a doctoral academy fellow and graduate research assistant in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. She speaks with EdChoice Research Assistant Mike Shaw about how her experience as a fifth grade teacher and regional director for Teach For America Louisiana Delta led her to study education reform. Click to listen to the full podcast, or read the transcript below.

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Our Podcast Transcribed

Mike Shaw: Hello, and welcome to a special Schooling in America Survey edition of EdChoice Chats. I’m Mike Shaw on EdChoice’s research team, and today we’re discussing our annual Schooling in America Survey. Specifically, we’re going to be looking at our sample of 777 current public school teachers. Our annual survey often addresses general population as well as school parents’ issues like school choice, direction of K–12 education, as well as perceptions of school funding.

Today we’re going to narrow specifically on these current public school teachers, though, and we’re really excited today to discuss the results with Emily Coady. Emily is a doctoral academy fellow and graduate research assistant in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. She previously taught fifth grade in the Louisiana Delta region, as well as worked as a community organizer, and later as a regional director for TFA Louisiana Delta. Additionally, Emily’s worked and teacher recruitment for the Louisiana Department of Education, trained incoming TFA corps members at Greater Delta Institute, and served with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. Emily, thanks for joining me on the podcast. Can you start just by telling us a little bit more about your background and what led you to study education reform?

Emily Coady: Thanks Mike. Yeah, my name is Emily Coady. I’m originally from South Dakota. And so I have a personal and professional journey that led me to education reform. I’m a first-generation college student myself. I was raised by parents who did not have college educations. In fact, my father is a high school dropout due to severe learning disabilities. So, I grew up understanding first-hand just how much education can do for a family, for economic mobility and for security. And so that led me to actually join Teach For America in 2010. I had a different Teach For America experience than most corps members. I actually helped found the region that I ended up serving in. About a week before school started, the state of Louisiana had a teacher shortage crisis in their Delta parishes— that’s in the northeast corner of the state, right on the Mississippi River—and they asked for volunteers.

Those of us who were originally going to teach in New Orleans which, as many of us know, in educational form hub, and I was the first to volunteer, and a few others joined me. So, my first year at Teach For America I had no Teach For America staff on the ground with me. They were over three hours away in New Orleans. My second your that changed a little bit but I just fell in love with the community and fell in love with education, and I ended up staying for eight years. Ultimately serving as the regional director on the ground for Teach For America, Louisiana Delta.

But through those roles, and through my own experience growing up, that’s what led me to decide to actually pursue my Ph.D. in education reform here at the University of Arkansas. I saw how policies played out. I saw how policies were impacting communities in vastly different ways. Louisiana is a very interesting case study of education reform. We’re seeing huge amounts of growth, accelerated high school graduation rates in places like New Orleans. And we’ve seeing the same policies attempt to be enacted in places like the Louisiana Delta, and honestly seeing some rather disastrous results, and at best just no effects. So, that is what led me to study education reform.

Mike Shaw: That’s fantastic background and context, Emily, for our conversation and for the work I’m sure we will be attuned to at Arkansas. And just to clarify your role at the Louisiana Delta with the TFA chapter you helped form. it did specifically center on teacher recruitment and retention, just by its nature, correct?

Emily Coady: Correct. Yes, it did.

Mike Shaw: OK. Well, I think that background can provide fantastic insight into our topic today which is teachers’ views regarding trust and satisfaction in our public schools. Before delving into these results a little bit deeper, though, I thought it would be best to describe who teach in our public schools. And, again, we’re using the results from our Schooling in America Survey with a sample of 777— lucky number—current public school teachers. So that’s absent teachers from charters and private schools.

And we found, by matching our teacher sample to NCS and other benchmarks, that we had a fairly representative sample of teachers, but teachers aren’t always the same group of people in each community, as I’m sure, Emily, you can attest to. Our sample is overwhelmingly white. They were, just by the nature of certification, were more likely to hold college degrees, and more likely to be in a middle income range of between $48,000 to $80,000. So, Emily, I was wondering what you think of this overall descriptive results of public school teachers and how that might compare to the teachers you work with in Louisiana, or who you’re trying to attract to the Delta?

Emily Coady: Yeah. I wasn’t surprised by the demographics of the sample for the survey. I think that that is still the overwhelming population of those entering the teaching profession and staying. I think what’s interesting, especially in a state like Louisiana, and I would guess that this is pretty typical across the south, the communities are very segregated. So, in Louisiana where I worked, all the public schools housed all of the students of color, all of the African-American students, and then our small but growing Hispanic population.

Whereas in those same communities with start dates of 1969 and 1970, we have academies, private schools that had opened up in response to Brown versus Board of Education, that are still almost entirely white. And so the teacher population is also split that way. At those academies those teacher populations are almost entirely white, if not completely white. And then at the public schools they’re almost entirely teachers of color. So, that’s interesting when it comes to talking about teacher recruitment and retention because often when we’re working in these communities and we’re recruiting teachers, for me my number one priority when I’m looking at a teacher who I think should be in the classroom, whether it’s a recent college graduate, a mid-career changer, or even someone who had taught for a awhile, left the profession, is wanting to come back, for me race is less of a factor.

What’s the biggest factor is the commitment to the profession and how you’re going to show up for the students and your self-efficacy. However, you can’t extract race from the conversation or socioeconomic background. So, I was really interested that it was predominately white, that most people came from backgrounds of middle class. Because often in public schools, those are not the populations in which you’re working with and serving in your classroom. And I don’t have any answer to that, but I do think that that’s something important to look at when thinking about teacher recruitment and retention.

Mike Shaw: Totally agree. And just going off that, I’m curious if that kind of split between, especially TFA recruits going into places like the Louisiana Delta, if that’s just like a culture shock, if that’s challenging for folks coming in and being in an area where you aren’t like the—at least on the face—like the people you teach.

Emily Coady: Culture shock is probably my number one retention risk. That really would be one of the top reasons why we would either lose a teacher or a teacher would choose not to stay past their two-year commitment. Or they wouldn’t even accept their offer. My role in recruitment was interesting because I played two roles. One, I was out in the community trying desperately to recruit individuals from within the community because of the very things that you just listed. We wanted individuals who are invested in the community, those who shared a background with our students, those who had built-in relationships already with already existing community teachers. Because we just saw the retention factor being quite high with them. So, that was one recruitment and retention role I played.
The other one, because Teach For America has a highly centralized recruitment process, an applicant will apply, they go through our interview process, they’re accepted, and then they’re assigned to a region. Now that’s changed a little bit. When I applied and was accepted in 2010, yes, they took into account where I potentially wanted to go, but it was not weighted as heavily as it is now. Now it’s really, if you say you want to go somewhere, there’s a lot of weight put in on that by Teach For America National.

So, often I would get teachers assigned to me who were obviously interested in teaching, they were interested and aligned with our mission. But it was like a second recruitment campaign because then you found out, “Oh, I’ve been assigned to a rural region, been assigned to a small town in northeast Louisiana that I’ve never heard of. I’m not going to New Orleans, or I’m not going to Dallas, or I’m not going to be in D.C. with my friends.” So, it would be a whole other recruitment campaign. So, I just wanted to share that context.

Mike Shaw: No, no. I love it. And I think we’ll keep almost all of it. Yeah, the original question was just getting out the characteristics of teachers, but then specifically the challenges with especially the type of people TFA recruited to come into a place like the Delta that they might be more segregated or have student body characteristics that don’t quite match the teacher body characteristics. Yeah.

Emily Coady: So the students in our schools are predominately African-American, have been born and raised in the Delta. Very few have ever lived outside of the community. There’s a strong culture in the Delta. It is very different from most other communities in the United States. As a teacher, as a fifth-grade teacher, I experienced a lot of culture shock, and I was someone who was raised in the Midwest, went to school on the east coast. I had been in Louisiana previously with another AmeriCorps program and I thought had experienced the culture, but actually living and working every day with families is a very different experience.
And so that really played out with our recruits and with those who agreed to come to Teach for America Louisiana Delta and stay. I would say building skills and having spaces for those teachers to reflect on their experiences actually helped them navigate that culture shock. And it didn’t work for everyone, right? But for those teachers, I am proud to say that we had one of the highest retention rates in the country, and I think it’s because we prioritize. Yes, we’re going to make you an exceptional teacher where you get incredible academic results for your students, but we’re going to spend just as much time with you, understanding your identity, understanding the history of race, class and privilege in this country, and how it’s playing out specifically in this context, and what your role as a teacher, a teacher who doesn’t look like your students, who doesn’t look like the parents in which you’re partnering with or your administration usually, but what can you still do? What is your self-efficacy in this community, in this moment to be the best teacher?

And I think that by focusing on that and having, whether it was programming or teacher coaching conversations that focused on that, I think that that led to our retention. But I will say, that’s a lot of work. And that’s not easy to quantify, that’s not easy to teach or train our coaches to do, as well. But it was our conscious decision because we were seeing the first year, 2010, 2011, of our region, we lost, oh my goodness, we lost almost 50 percent of our core. Only 10 of us ended up finishing our two-year commitment. The next core it wasn’t quite that high of an attrition issue, but we still lost teachers because we were not taking the time to focus on that.

So, my first role when I entered Teach For America staff was to rethink how are we thinking about recruitment and matriculation so when someone agrees to say, like, “Yes, I will come and teacher in the Louisiana Delta.” How do we then coach them through the process before they’ve even gotten here to this community and into the classroom? And then how do we create educational or learning moments for them throughout their two years so that one, they’re effective teachers, two, they stay, and three, they hopefully stay beyond their two-year commitment, and stay in the classroom?

Mike Shaw: That’s all just amazing context and really heartening regarding you guys’ later turnaround for retention rates. I imagined at the heart of that, and you guys paying attention to where teachers were coming from and their needs, is trying to make sure they’re satisfied in their day-to-day of their jobs. And that’s something we were curious about in our national survey, too, is teacher satisfaction at the macro-national level.

We went about the question in an interesting way. We used something called Net Promoter Score, which basically gets out how likely teachers are to recommend their profession, on a scale of zero to ten. And you scale score that out, and our results for teachers, at least on their face, were kind of shocking. Public school teachers as a whole scored -17, that’s on a range from -100 to 100. And that’s just a number, me saying that, but it’s comparatively lower than other groups we’ve surveyed. State legislators, assessing their own profession, graded out as a 41, and military service members graded out as a 45. So, at least, given by this metric, public school teachers seem to be not as optimistic or as satisfied perhaps as some of these other groups. So, I was wondering, Emily, how these results square with what you experienced, especially in the core of your job of retention and attraction, as well as just your experience as a teacher yourself.

Emily Coady: Yeah. To be honest, Mike, I was not surprised at the lower NPS score. And we used NPS scores within our organization to gauge how we were also doing nationally.

Mike Shaw: Oh, really?

Emily Coady: Yeah, we did. I think, though, to do it with all public school teachers, I think is much more telling than asking a Teach For America corps member who’s arguably, maybe not the archetype, or not like the typical public school teacher. I think someone who’s chosen this as their full career, and that’s not to say that there’re many, many, many TFA corps members who stay in the classroom for decades at this point. So, I wasn’t surprised for two reasons. First, my own experience as a teacher, and then, second, from my higher altitude as a recruiter and a retention manager.

So, I wasn’t surprised, because as a public school teacher teaching fifth grade, I probably would have rated low as well. And that’s not because I didn’t think my students were worth it, it was probably because I thought my students were worth more than what I was seeing as options for them. Whether it was the teacher above me that I knew my students were going to get, or the middle school that they were going to matriculate into. I saw how much work it was for me to get my classroom off the ground, how exhausted I was, emotionally and physically.

But I think I wouldn’t rate it high because the students were difficult, I would rate it low because it would have to be the right person that I would suggest or promote teaching to. I wouldn’t blanket say to a group in an auditorium, “Oh, I want you all in the classroom. I think that you all have the potential to make that impact as a teacher,” because after teaching for two years, no, it takes a special type of person, a special leader. There’s just so many skills, both non-cognitive and cognitive skills that it needs to be a highly effective teacher. So, that’s actually why I would have rated a bit low as a teacher myself.

And then I think about my time as a recruiter and a retention manager, and I think about when I’m speaking to an individual, whether I’m trying to recruit them to even just apply to be in Teach For America, or just apply to get a job in the districts that I was serving. When I was on Teach For America staff, I obviously very much viewed myself as a TFA staff member, but I actually put the communities as my higher priorities. So, if someone wasn’t a great fit for Teach For America, because we do have such a specific leadership model, I would also work with that person and figure out, “How can we actually get you in the classroom, or in the school system, in this community, because we need you?”

So, I would think about, for me, in that role, I thought about what are these individuals hearing about the profession of teaching? And the teachers often would cite pay as one of the number one reasons why, “Oh, I’m kind of on the fence on whether I want to enter this profession or whether I want to join Teach For America.” But it wasn’t pay in isolation. It was the level of pay in combination with how much work they knew that they were going to be putting in, emotional and physical. And how little pay they were getting back in return.

You know, I kind of laugh at the old joke, “No one enters teaching for the money.” And that’s true. No one’s there to make a fortune. But I also think that when we make that joke or when that’s said, it’s a way to dismiss the needs of individuals. Because people still need to because comfortable, and if we want teachers to stay in the classroom and still be highly effective because they’re teaching our children who—they’re precious to us, whether you’re a parent or an aunt or an uncle or you’ve got great kids in your neighborhood and you really want the best for them. You obviously want their teacher to be the best for them.

But if that teacher is then also having to work a second job, or is having to live in housing that is subpar because that’s all they can afford on a teacher pay, because they’re already paid low and then whatever little money that they get to keep outside of their bills goes back into their classroom, which that was my narrative. I probably walked away from teaching with more debt than I walked in with because I had to provide almost all of my resources. That’s not a sustainable lifestyle for anyone, no matter how much you love kids or how passionate you are or how gifted you are at teaching. That’s asking a lot of individuals. So, I’m rambling at this point, I apologize.

Mike Shaw: No, no.

Emily Coady: So, from my experience as a teacher, I would have rated low because I wouldn’t have just blanket suggested to a group of people, “You should look into teaching.” Because I think it takes a really special individual who wants to be in this profession, and then, from my higher altitude retention manager and recruiter, I saw the conflicting messages. We have this altruistic message that teaching is this incredible profession, you get so much out of it.

But then you also then see on the news teachers walking out because they aren’t able to make a living. And they feel that that’s their only option because they have gotten to the point with their districts or their union or their school administration, that they have no other options but to leave the classroom to make a statement. And so I think that those are really mixed messages that individuals get. So, we lose a lot of those people who probably would be incredible teachers but aren’t seeing the benefits of it. And so I think teachers on the ground right now are experiencing that first hand, and they know how important this job is, but they’re not going to just say to anyone, “Yeah, you should sign up.” Because it’s not an easy job.

Mike Shaw: Yeah, that’s definitely a lot for policymakers, those who run and recruit for our schools to contemplate because that satisfaction level or even that recommendation level, with what NPS gets at, can be telling about the profession, but based off what you said, and based off some data, it does seem to be the common denominator is the students and the passion teachers have and, all else being equal, they’re in it oftentimes for the students, and we seem to see that and our survey data regarding teachers’ trust.

We surveyed teachers about whether they completely or had a lot of trust in various education stakeholders, and students rated out as the second highest of the stakeholders, with over half, 52.2 percent of teachers having complete or a lot of trust in their students. Principals were number one at 57.4 percent Parents, surprisingly—or maybe not surprisingly, you can definitely fill me in—but a little over a third of teachers had complete or a lot of trust in parents. And then it goes down the line there with the school board, State Department of Education, federal DOE, rounding out the bottom half. So, I’m curious, how do you interpret these results of who teachers seem to place their trust in?

Emily Coady: Yes, similar to the NPS score, I was not surprised at all. I think, personally, I probably would have rated my students a bit higher, but I also, again, rural communities and if there are rural teachers listening to this, I sure that they know this barrier into teaching in rural communities. School leadership is just a constant turnover in those communities. It’s harder to get principals than teachers.

And so, just in my two years of teaching, I had 11 different school administrators. So that’s my specific context. But I think what my takeaway from that data point, trust is a relationship. It’s a two-way street. You can’t just trust someone who you don’t know, who you don’t have a relationship with, you don’t see on a regular basis. And so if you’re seeing and working with your principal and you have a principal who has your back, yes, they might hold you to high standards and hold you accountable when you need to be, but they’re still there for you, you’re working alongside each other.

And then your students, you are with them every single day. That is the number one job beyond academics and beyond classroom management is are you a trustworthy individual for your students to look towards? And if you are, then you can create that relationship where you are trusting your students back because they trust you as the adult. When I think of relationships for teachers with parents and with school boards and with district administration, that’s not a relationship. You might have that active parent who has the means and the ability and the comfort level to show up and be in your classroom and be a presence at your school, but that’s not the norm anymore.

And so I know from my personal experience as a teacher, I had really great parents that I truly loved. But I only saw them every once in a while. And often what I found my role with parents and with school board, is I was accountable to these individuals but there was no accountability back to me as the teacher. And so it’s hard to build a trust when, “Well, I’ve got to answer to these individuals but this is not actually a relationship where I’m able to lean back on them.” I never had a school board member in my classroom, I don’t think that that’s unusual. I think that many teachers would share that narrative. And I think that the role of parents in our schools, I think there is a complicated narrative there, and there are a lot of reasons why this is now the case, but I don’t think parents are as present in our schools as they used to be.

And I don’t think that that’s any one person’s fault or any one policy caused that. I think that that’s been building for a while. I recognize and taught at a high poverty district where that’s even more prevalent, where parents aren’t able to be as active. But I’ve seen trends in suburban districts and urban districts and in rural, obviously poverty districts, where parents are just not present any more. So, you can’t build trust if there’s no relationship there. And if you feel like you as a teacher are held accountable to these individuals but you get nothing in return, of course you’re not going to trust them because you’re always beholden to them. You’re always answering to whatever it is that they need or whatever it is they’re expecting out of you. And often you don’t play a role in creating those expectations, either.

So, I wasn’t surprised. I also, to the piece about the principal, I think our principals and our school administrators—and this speaks to that trust piece—I actually think that they’re probably our number one retention promoter or detractor. For the teachers that I’ve recruited and placed and coached for their two or three or even four years in the classroom in the Louisiana Delta, it wasn’t Teach For America or me as their director that kept them there, or even the parents or, frankly, even the students, because they got new students every year, it was their principal.

If they had a principal that they trusted that showed up for them, they would stay. And I’ve seen entire schools in Louisiana that are defying the odds, and you look and you see who their principal is and you’re like, “That makes sense.” That principal is just doing his or her job, but they’re showing up and they’ve built relationships with their teachers. And then I’ve seen schools who were going down that path of positivity and defied the odds, and then they get a new principal in who does not do that and who erodes the trust of the staff, and this school has completely regressed back to being a failing school. And that’s a lot to put on principals, but that’s what we’ve seen. So, that was my other takeaway from seeing how high the trust was for principals. They play a key role in keeping teachers in the classroom and keeping teachers feeling satisfied in this profession.

Mike Shaw: Touchpoint says the proxy for trust, that yeah, I’m totally interpreting our data a bit differently now with that insight. But it does make a lot of sense. We’re turning back real quickly, you touched on some of the teacher walkouts earlier this year, and our Net Promoter question, we did kind of ask about the widespread teacher walkouts and they happened in states like Arizona, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

And we tried to get out in one of our survey questions, who people think are most responsible for specifically the disruptions and the loss of class time from the walkouts. And we asked various population segments about this, but public school teachers, in particular, seem to place the most blame, 60 percent put the highest or second highest blame, on their local school districts for the walkouts. Which I was a little surprised about, just knowing a little about education funding. But I was wondering how you interpreted those results and how that teacher/district relationship worked for you?

Emily Coady: Yeah, you know, I wasn’t as surprised by that. And it goes back to my trust comment earlier about a relationship. You might still not have the strongest relationship with your districts because you don’t see them every day. And it’s similar for a teacher in that I’m accountable to the district but I can’t always count on them. They hold my bread and butter. I have to meet certain expectations that they have set, but not so often do I actually see them in my classroom, in my school, helping out. Now, again, there are those district officials out there, or district administrators out there, that they do take that very seriously and they are in schools.

I think what we’re seeing with those walkouts … And when I first started seeing them happen, and I had pretty decent relationships with my district. Now I also put myself out there as a first-year teacher, which I think is a lot to ask of someone, but I did it, so I knew who my district players were. I could understand a little bit about what was going on, kind of like Wizard of Oz, what was going on behind the curtain. I made it my business to know. I don’t think the average teacher has to time, capacity, or the skillset to do that, nor should they have to.

However, I think what we’re seeing with the walkouts is just decades of mistrust and misaligned expectations building. Yes, the walkouts are focused on pay, but that’s not in isolation. That goes back to what I was saying early around the NPS score where teachers are not promoting this profession, not just because of the low pay. Yes, that is a big factor, but it’s the low pay in conjunction with how much we are putting out as teachers, how hard we’re working, how much we’re trying to hold ourselves accountable to expectations that have been placed on us most of the time by our district. And very often, I would say, without a lot of explanation, and even less collaboration with creating those expectations.

My teachers and I, when I was in my classrooms I wasn’t sitting down with my elementary school supervisor who was with the district, saying, “OK, these are my learning goals for my student this year.” No, they were given to me, and if I didn’t meet them, or if I had too many write-ups, or whatever they were going to evaluate me on, I was going to be in trouble. Without, then, the support from the district.

So, I found myself, even thought I had decent district relationships, I kind of found myself with my fists in the air being like, “Yes, walk out. Do it.” That was my gut reaction, but then I stopped and, like, “Would I be saying that to my teachers if they were going to walk out on their district of Louisiana?” And ultimately I would have supported them. But I’m not surprised that public school teachers are putting the blame on districts. I think it’s much more complicated. I think districts are then beholden to state departments of education. I also had the privilege or working for the Louisiana Department of Education, so I have seen how that relationship plays out, especially for lower income, struggling districts that have different stipulations put on them and are also held accountable and beholden to the state department of education, in a way.

So, yeah, my gut reaction … I was like, yeah, walk out, do it, I understand. I’m mad for you. And I was mad, too, at a lot of things. Because in a lot of these situations the system is so broken, your district is kind of that first line of fire in a lot of ways. You don’t actually have a relationship with them, you’re beholden to them. They are the first ones to say, “Yes, you’re doing something correctly. No, you’re not doing that correctly.” And they do. They sign your paycheck. And if that’s the first and most tangible thing you can jump on to make this profession and your livelihood better for you and your family and your students, then yeah, that’s where the blame is going to go first. But it’s much more complicated than that.

Mike Shaw: Yeah, to that point, there seems to be nuance in most things, and especially that answer. So I think that’s all worth considering. And I’m going to go against nuance a little bit here to try to tie it all together kind of both from our data, from this really wild year for teachers and education reform, and just in general, if you had one piece of advice that you would give to those trying to understand the public school teacher and their relationship, I suppose, with other education stakeholders, what would it be? What one thing would you say to give everyone the window into that insight?

Emily Coady: I would say every community is different. Every school district is different. And so for where you’re living, the community that you live in right now, whether you have students in the district or not, is to seek to understand what is actually happening in the school down the street from your house. What is actually happening at the school board meetings? Are you engaging as a citizen, as a taxpayer, are you engaging with the system at your level of government, in your community?

Because the education experience of a teacher in this profession, in Texas, is vastly different than in Oklahoma. In Louisiana, the experience my teachers had in rural communities in the northeast corner of the state, is polar opposite of a charter school teacher in New Orleans. There are some similarities, but the differences, I think, outweigh those similarities. And so for someone who’s seeking to truly understand what is the role of the public school teacher, what is their experience, what are they putting on their shoulders every day as they go into the classroom, the resources are at your fingertips. They’re literally in your community.
And I would also say read what’s going on at the national level and become aware. I would really start within your own community because the way our education system, the K–12 education system is in the United States, it’s very decentralized, the effects are very heterogeneous. It really depends on the schools, the neighborhood, the students in that school, the teachers that that school is able to retain, and then the district itself. And so I would just make sure you know what’s going on in your community and if it’s something that you’re passionate about, how are you advocating for change and how are you understanding the policies and how they’re impacting teachers and students?

Mike Shaw: Well, Emily, this has been a great conversation. I can’t thank you enough for jumping on. Is there anything you’re working on right now at Arkansas, or research, or interests that you want to plug, that we should be on the lookout for?

Emily Coady: Yeah, so we’re actually looking at some different aspects of teacher recruitment and retention. We’re starting to understand what are some of the non-cognitive skills of teachers, whether that’s perseverance, empathy, self-efficacy, and what does that mean for how long they’re going to stay in the classroom? Obviously their academic impact on students, but really thinking more along the lines of if an individual is scoring really high on grit, what does that mean for them as a teacher and staying in this profession long term? And what does that mean for their impact in grit on their students as well? Are they modeling grit? Are the students picking up on it? Are the students internalizing it and making it part of their daily life as well?

And so that’s what we’re looking at. We’re working on that, and then also I’m focused on English-language learners here in northwest Arkansas, in some communities outside of the university, because northwest Arkansas is one of the fastest growing places in the country. It’s also incredibly diverse in comparison to the rest of the state, and it’s vastly becoming one of the most diverse areas in the country itself. So, that’s going to have some profound educational effects coming up in the next five to ten years as the student population changes dramatically.

Mike Shaw: Emily Coady is a doctoral academy fellow and graduate research assistant in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. Emily, thanks so much for jumping on the podcast.

Emily Coady: Thank you, Mike.

Mike Shaw: And that’s all for this episode. Thanks again to Emily for joining us on the podcast, to all of you listeners for listening. As always, be sure to subscribe to more EdChoice Chats and to follow us at social media. Our tags are @edchoice on everything from Instagram to Twitter, Facebook as well. You can subscribe to our podcast on SoundCloud, iTunes, Stitcher, just about wherever you get your podcasts, and we’ll catch you next time. Thank you, and take care.

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