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How to Recruit and Retain Teachers of Color

Updated: Jun 6, 2022

It is quite evident that schools across the US struggle to build a diverse workforce that truly represents racial diversity. Let’s face it: America’s public school teachers are far less ethnically and racially diverse than their students despite the increase in the number of Black, Hispanic, and Asian American teachers over the last few decades.

Therefore, it is fair to assume that the students of color don’t have the teachers they need and deserve. If we look at the stats, about 8 in 10 school teachers are non-Hispanic white during the 2017-18 school years. Only one in ten teachers were identified as Black, Hispanic, or Asian American. At the same time, schools are facing a teaching profession shortage.

Recruiting teachers of color not only helps school districts overcome the shortage of talent but also enhances the quality of education. As an employer, if you have worked really hard to hire and retain teachers of color, you’re not alone.

In this post, we’ll explain how you can recruit and retain teachers of color to build a more diverse workforce.

Why is Hiring Teachers of Color Important?

Studies have found out that teachers of color play a key role in ensuring better student achievement and fewer suspensions for students of color. Why is teacher diversity important? Hiring more diverse teachers can help schools break down the stereotypes and build a racially diverse and healthy environment. Hiring diverse talent is one of the best strategies to mitigate racial bias. Besides, diverse teachers can share cultural knowledge to help develop improved curricula.

Related - J-1 visas.

How to Recruit Teachers of Color

Here are strategies schools can adopt to attract and hire teachers of colors:

1. Overcome challenges

First of all, you need to identify diversity and inclusion challenges that prevent you from adding more diverse teachers to your staff. It’s crucial to have the right strategy and process before you implement inclusive hiring practices. Here are four common challenges schools face when attracting and hiring teachers of color:

  • Sourcing: Schools often claim that they fail to find enough talent from underrepresented groups of teachers. However, this isn’t the case as an increasing number of people of color are getting higher education than ever before. The real problem lies with schools and how they develop and implement sourcing strategies.

  • Selection process: Schools want to have diverse teachers in their hiring process. However, they fail to keep them engaged long enough. As a result, they drop out before they reach the final selection stage.

  • Attraction: Let’s say you have an inclusive sourcing strategy in place and you successfully move diverse teachers through the selection process. However, those teachers refuse to accept your offer.

  • Retention: Diverse teachers don’t stay at your school long. You’ve hired them successfully but failed to create a diverse and inclusive environment.

You have to overcome these challenges. For this, you need to create an appealing hiring strategy. Most importantly, your school environment must support and encourage diverse teachers.

2. Write inclusive job descriptions

Pay more attention to how you write job descriptions. Many organizations often use words and phrases that are off-putting to many candidates. For example, words like ‘leader’ and ‘dominant’ may dissuade teachers of color from applying.

Your job descriptions shouldn’t be unrelatable and inaccessible to diverse talent. So, make sure not to include exclusive wording and poorly communicated benefits. You can use a hiring tool to create better job descriptions. Modern HR tools help recruiters sport and remove language that can narrow down your talent pool.

3. Assess your hiring process

Are you sure your hiring process isn’t excluding diverse applicants? While automated tools are supposed to improve the quality of hiring processes, they can exclude candidates from a position based on a single factor.

Make sure your hiring process isn’t unintentionally excluding teachers of color. You can control who applies for your jobs if you’re clear about whom you want to hire. All you need to do is simply redirect your recruiting marketing focus. However, make sure to define teacher diversity and candidate characteristics to identify the most suitable candidates.

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4. Be innovative

If a traditional recruiting strategy isn’t helping you to achieve your diversity goals, try something different. For example, you can reach out to different underrepresented communities and engage them. They might be able to help you recruit teachers of color.

When organizations invest in the community and establish relationships with diverse talent, it becomes super easy to expand your talent pool. You can also engage gender and minority-specific associations and institutions. For instance, partnering up with minority schools can connect you with entry-level teachers.

5. Actively seek out teachers of color

Most school employers think that they can’t control who applies for an open position. It is a false narrative. If you feel your talent pool isn’t diverse, evaluate your recruitment strategy and talent pipeline.

One approach is to just sit back and wait for teachers of color to apply for your open positions. The better one is to actively seek them out. Wondering how you can reach out to those potential teacher candidates? It’s simple: partner with universities, attend events and engage communities.

How to Retain Diverse Teachers

Let’s assume that you’ve hired teachers of color and now you want them to stay. Sometimes schools put a heavy emphasis on attracting teachers of color but they neglect the retention aspect of diversity and inclusion. Here is what you can do to pay equal attention to the retention part:

1. Cultivate inclusion

There is no way you can retain diverse staff without inclusion. So, think about fostering an inclusive workplace. An environment that includes all your teachers is integral to retaining employees as well as attracting more diverse teachers in the future.

Workshops, better policies, team-building exercises are some of the ways to encourage diversity and let your educators of color express their culture and unique needs. Learn how your school can support and celebrate your teachers’ differences.

2. Let your teachers be who they really are

Do your teachers of color at your school feel a sense of belonging? Do you have an environment where they feel comfortable and bring their authentic selves to work? If not, get ready to change things rather drastically. A study found out that people love to work at places where they get a chance to be their true and authentic selves.

Let your people be who they are and you’ll be able to create a win-win situation for everyone: school students, teachers, communities. Train your HR and administrative teams to effectively create such an environment where teachers of color don’t feel restricted or uncomfortable.

3. Address unconscious bias

Do you think you’re an unbiased decision-maker? We believe we’re unbiased but studies say something else. Deeply ingrained stereotypes influence our decisions and behavior. When hiring or managing or promoting teachers, that biased behavior can influence our decisions.

For example, making assumptions about a teacher’s role in your school or excluding some staff members from bonding activities reflect unconscious bias. Schools that are committed to retaining teachers of color address unconscious biases. Be one of them.

4. Support the creation of communities within your school

People like to have friends at work. It makes work life healthier and happier. Teachers of color feel valued and safe when they have friendly people around that they can turn to. As an employer or manager, you can help them build connections and form communities based on shared identities. Reach out to them and ask how you can help them and what resources you can provide to promote the initiative.

The Benefits of Diversifying the Teaching Profession

As a result of their efforts, teachers of color improve the reading and math test scores of students of color, increase graduation rates, and increase college ambitions.

Despite the disparities in the representation of teachers of color among students of color and White students, both groups report feeling cared for and challenged by their teachers of color.

Teachers of color who are isolated, frustrated, and exhausted might leave the profession if they feel alone as a result of a greater diversity of teachers.

Final Thoughts

It is the student population, not necessarily the teaching force, that reflects diversity in American public schools.

Teachers of color remain underrepresented in the teaching workforce despite efforts to recruit and retain them. The retention of teachers of color is more than just increasing the diversity of the teacher workforce.

HSTT programs identify students of color in high schools and expose them to teaching careers, while other programs seek to train paraprofessionals who are already employed in the public school system as teachers.

Well-thought-out, effective strategies are critical to recruiting and retaining teachers of color. So, develop formal and personalized hiring and retention plans. Turn your school into a workplace where teachers of all colors and races are able to grow and feel safe. Focus on both diversity and inclusion.


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