Is your school having a hard time recruiting and retaining staff of color? If the majority of your team is white, it is time for you to reevaluate your hiring practices. This is especially essential if you work with predominantly students of color.
Teacher diversity can greatly contribute to student success. Teachers of color serve as role models for students of color, giving them real-life examples of the magnitude and power of people of color. Diverse teachers may be able to build unique relationships with students based on cultural connections and can contribute to culturally competent curriculum development. Additionally, diversity in the workplace promotes innovation, enhances creativity, and increases productivity.
If teacher diversity is on your radar, use this list to help you improve your strategic plan to become more diverse.
Diversifying Your School Staff
Develop a Task Force
Create a team of people within your school or district to brainstorm strategies for recruiting and retaining people of color. Ensure that people of color that have worked in schools are a part of the team. Use these ideas to develop a strategic plan to cultivate trusting relationships with candidates of color.
Reflect on Feedback From Teachers of Color
Use surveys, focus groups and interviews to reflect with people of color about their experiences within your organization. It is not enough to assume what educators of color think or feel. Their own voices will bring you to the deepest truth.
It is essential that these stories are highly considered when revising and improving school practices. Be sure to get an adequate sample size because a couple of people of color cannot speak for all.
Make People of Color Feel Welcomed
One of the first ways to create a welcoming environment is by acknowledging when there is a lack of diversity and taking simple steps to embrace differences. Consider if your staff traditions reflect diverse cultural identities. There should be activities, music, food, etc. that helps people from different racial backgrounds interact with one another. The next time you have a staff gathering, notice how many people of color are in the room. Then, look again, and ask yourself, “Do my colleagues of color seem comfortable here?” If things feel awkward, think about why and make a shift.
Avoid “Type” Hiring People of Color
Avoid placing people of color in archetypical positions within schools. This can be frustrating for educators of color and cause them to lose interest in your organization. For example, don’t assume a person of color is more equipped to be a disciplinarian than a science teacher before interviewing them. If you find yourself consistently hiring teachers of color for specific roles within your school, ask yourself why. There may be some bias there that you need to work out.
Acknowledge the Contributions of Staff of Color
Many educators work hard to impact student success. Yet, more often than not, people of color aren’t acknowledged for their work. Is this happening at your school? Staff of color should not be made to feel “less important” than their white peers. So observe their classes, shout them out, nominate them for awards, and most of all, give them credit for their ideas.
Teachers have advocated for competitive pay for years. Nationally, women of color are paid the least. Is this true at your school? If so, ensure that people of color are making comparable salaries to their white peers to show that you value their contributions.
Develop and Promote Educators of Color
If the majority of your leadership team is white, you are dis-servicing your staff and your student population. Educators of color greatly contribute to the development and refinement of school policy and practices. Ensure that you are providing ample opportunity for staff of color to be coached, professionally developed, and promoted.
Invest in the Community
While working to diversify your school staff, look in your community first. Bringing in staff of color from all over the nation without first considering the talent around the corner dismisses the value of the people in your town, city or region. Additionally, create programs and opportunities for community members and students to be employees at the school.
Prioritize Equity Training
In 2018, diversity is essential, but it’s not always easy to maintain. Sometimes there may be tension. Take the time to talk about matters of race and equity with your staff. This is especially important when working with staff and students of color as systematic oppression is a factor in their daily lives. Avoiding conversations about equity denies your school staff the ability to be a culturally competent team.
School leaders must be intentional about maintaining diverse school teams and honest about challenges that arise when diverse student populations don’t have diverse teachers. If your school is struggling to recruit and retain diverse teachers, take a few steps to make a change.
Since our founding, Kickboard has worked to give educators the tools they need to create safe and happy schools where students and staff thrive. Given that the vast majority of our schools are composed predominantly of students of color, the culture and climate work we do with schools inevitably intersects with issues of race and disproportionality in discipline. We recognize our role in developing equitable schools and have partnered with Overcoming Racism, an organization committed to helping schools and organizations disrupt oppressive practices and promote equity. We seek to develop ourselves and improve and extend the services we provide.