College teaching jobs in music

If you’re unsure what to write when it comes to a required diversity statement for a teaching job application, this one’s for you. I’ve got the top 10 questions for your Diversity Statement.

But first, being unsure about what to write is completely understandable. Diversity statements are a relatively new requirement for teaching job applications. And as of now, there are no set guidelines for what to include or how to approach the writing.

Unfortunately, there are many ways to get it wrong. And because this is a sensitive topic, many musicians agonize over the writing of their statements.

As schools are finally becoming more intentional in their efforts to embrace principles of inclusion, equity, justice, and diversity, EDI statements are becoming the norm.

So if you’re applying for teaching jobs . . .

The time to get an effective Diversity statement written is now

Let’s clarify this: Diversity can refer to a whole host of differences. Not just race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, but also age, religion, academic preparedness, disability, gender expression, and more.

So before you write anything, you need to get clear on what “diversity” means to you. Reflect and decide how you intend to use the word in your statement and also consider the related terms of inclusion, justice, and equity.

Ultimately, schools want to hire faculty who create engaging, inclusive, equitable, and yes, diverse learning environments.

And the best way to clue search committees in on how you operate is to tell them about your experience in story form. That way, through your writing, they can “see” you in action.

When I’m working with clients, we brainstorm possible stories to use from their lived experience.

With one client, it was the unfortunate experience of teaching a musical theater tune in a class and afterwards being shocked to learn about the song’s racist origins. This led to a fascinating class discussion on expanding repertoire and learning about the social contexts of works. The episode was a wake-up call for the faculty member and led to a new energy, new repertoire exploration, and a more collaborative learning environment.

What if you don’t have any stories?

Often, musicians worry that they don’t have relevant experience and stories to use in their Diversity statements.

If that’s your concern, the good news is that you DO have material to use. You just may need some time to reflect on your experience to identify potential story topics.

To help, use my handy top 10 Diversity statement questions. Answer the ones that are applicable to your own situation so you can brainstorm possible material to use in your Diversity statement.

  1. Think of specific times when issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity arose in your studio teaching and classroom teaching.
  2. What kinds of classroom discussions or student projects have you facilitated that dealt with EDI issues?
  3. How do you create a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere in your studio, classroom, or rehearsal hall?
  4. How does your approach to course design take into account considerations of diversity?
  5. In terms of the repertoire you teach, are you actively expanding it to include more BIPOC and women composers?
  6. In mentoring or advising, have you worked with students who are from marginalized groups? If so, how did you help them identify and overcome barriers to success?
  7.  As for recruiting, what efforts do you (or would you) make to recruit and retain students from marginalized and underrepresented groups?
  8. If research is part of the work you do as a music educator, how does any of it address issues of diversity, inclusion, or equity?
  9. Have you participated in any service activities whose goals relate to EDI issues? (e.g. university committees, symposia, workshops, or volunteer community work.)
  10. How have you dealt with EDI issuers as a performer and/or composer? How has this experience affected your teaching?

For more help, check out my Land the Job program — in-depth training for musicians seeking college teaching jobs. If you want to take your materials and your job search to the next level, it may be just the thing for you!

Looking forward,

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well

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