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Retaining Teachers of Color: How Mentors and Principals Can Help

photo of a black male teacher smiling and sitting on a desk in a classroom

While many educational entities are investing time and money into hiring teachers of color, not all are providing the quality induction support that is the key to retention.

Research suggests that when teachers and students share a common ethno-racial background, such as Black, Latino, or Asian American, those students are more likely to do well in school and pursue higher education. These findings are leading schools to grow their ranks of teachers of color to bring those benefits to their campuses.

It is not enough to simply recruit these new teachers; districts and campuses also need to focus on retaining them within the profession. This includes:

  • Supporting new teachers through a quality induction program
  • Providing quality mentorship to help with challenges they may be facing
  • Having school administrators who are well prepared to deal with retention challenges

In 2021, Edifying Teachers was formed to provide personalized professional mentorship among teachers of color who are often placed in some of the most challenging schools. Katie Caster, director of mentoring for the group, says it’s about going beyond instructional coaching and helping teachers navigate career trajectories and relationships with other adults, including peers, administrators, and parents. The group has also started mentoring pre-service teachers.

Edifying Teachers includes school leadership in their mentorship program, as well. Often, the most novice principals are also placed in the most challenging schools, leaving them without the necessary tools, resources, or skills to create the working environment necessary to retain teachers of color.

Strategies may include support for building skills in lesson planning, best practices for supporting English language learners, and systems to foster collaborative learning and collective efficacy. School leaders are also coached to be aware of social and emotional challenges that are unique to teachers of color. This may include educating white teachers to practice effective strategies to avoid perpetuating stereotypes.

School leaders should be versed in more than just providing instructional support. They should create an environment where teachers of color feel supported in their work and in the profession.

For more information on the topic, check out Education Week’s article The Role Mentors and School Leaders Play in Retaining Teachers of Color

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Christine Zenteno
Christine Zenteno
HR and Compensation Consultant

Christine Zenteno joined the HR Services team as an HR and compensation consultant in 2022. She assists with compensation plan development, training, and other HR projects. Prior to TASB, Zenteno worked in the public sector for state and city government entities in human resources roles specializing in staffing and compensation.

Zenteno holds a bachelor’s degree in international business from St. Edward’s University and is a PHR.

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TASB HR Services supports HR leadership in Texas schools through membership offerings in specialized training, consulting, and other services.
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