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Strategies for creating inclusive workplaces and retaining Black teachers

Midwest | January 21, 2021
Strategies for creating inclusive workplaces and retaining Black teachers

A diverse teacher workforce can improve student achievement and behavior, particularly among Black students (Carver-Thomas, 2018; Gershenson, Hart, Hyman, Lindsay, & Papageorge, 2018; Lindsay & Hart, 2017). However, school districts can face challenges recruiting and retaining Black teachers. Two new resources from the Midwest Achievement Gap Research Alliance, which Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest facilitates, explore why Black teachers leave the profession and describe strategies for creating inclusive, antiracist workplaces to improve teacher retention.

Video: Creating inclusive workplaces for Black teachers

A 2019 study, conducted by Curtis Jones, PhD, at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, examined Wisconsin public schools and found that only 58 percent of Black teachers remained after 2 years, compared to 77 percent of White teachers. The study also found that Black teachers felt lower levels of trust with other teachers compared with White or Latinx teachers (Jones, 2019 [1,344 KB ]).

In a new video, Creating Inclusive Workplaces for Black Teachers, Dr. Jones and REL Midwest experts Tammie Causey-Konaté, PhD, and Etai Mizrav discuss six effective strategies for fostering inclusive, antiracist environments in education settings to improve Black teacher retention:

  • Connect Black educators through mentorship.
  • Grow your own staff by developing and hiring staff linked to the school community.
  • Create an affinity space for race and culture.
  • Use data to drive improvement.
  • Provide loan forgiveness and scholarship opportunities.
  • Recruit and develop culturally competent teachers and leaders.

The video also features educators and district leaders from Evanston Township High School in Illinois, who share their perspectives on best practices for creating and sustaining inclusive work environments for Black teachers. A video viewing guide provides prompts for education leaders and teachers to consider as they discuss how to develop more inclusive and antiracist work environments.

Webinar: Confronting bias and building trust: Strategies to create inclusive environments for Black teachers

Building on the video, a recent REL Midwest webinar, “Confronting Bias and Building Trust: Strategies to Create Inclusive Environments for Black Teachers,” examined the value of recruiting and retaining Black teachers, the barriers involved, and strategies for creating a culturally inclusive workplace. A recording of the webinar, along with the presentation slides, is available on REL Midwest’s website.

Kicking off the webinar, researchers discussed the importance and challenges of retaining Black teachers as well as evidence-based recommendations for improving retention. The recommendations included prioritizing ongoing educator engagement related to implicit bias, cultural competency, and antiracism.

Practitioners then shared their experiences recruiting and retaining Black teachers and the real-world challenges associated with building school relationships, both between teachers and between teachers and students. Practitioners noted that improving school climate and culture is foundational for academic achievement and a critical investment in current and future generations of students and educators.

Related resources


Maggi Ibis

Maggi Ibis

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