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Teacher Diversity Matters

6 Crucial Steps to Support Early Childhood Educators of Color

Learn how to increase teacher diversity and support early childhood educators of color with this must-read handbook.

01

Eliminate hiring bias

A great hiring process is the key to a diverse dream team—but if your process is bias-heavy, that dream will quickly turn into a nightmare.

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02

Lobby for policy change

So, you notice a policy that really isn’t working, and you want to do something about it. But where do you start? And will anyone even listen?

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03

Listen to teachers of color

In the workplace, listening increases employee engagement, improves retention rates, and boosts company culture.

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04

Connect with your community

As you build teacher diversity, connect with your wider community to share your diversity wins, encourage acceptance and offer support.

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05

Develop diversity training initiatives

Regular diversity training workshops can help provide relevant, consistent education on how to increase allyship and become an even more inclusive community.

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06

Introduce systemic social emotional learning

A systemic approach helps children, parents and employees feel supported, leads to higher teacher retention rates, and helps build stronger, more dynamic communities.

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"After a few moments of observation during my [first day of] student teaching, I detected that there were some geniuses, some average, and some mediocre white [students] just as there were Black [students]. And… it dawned on me that people are people. And those kids, many of them, they'd looked for guidance toward knowledge, and they were looking for me to pour it out."
Robert Lewis Gilbert

Ten years after the ‘Brown v Board of Education’ trial led to the start of school desegregation across the US, the first Black teacher stepped through the doors of a white school.

Robert Lewis Gilbert paved the way for educators of color, but—even half a century later—there’s still a long way to go.

In fact, a 2018 Data USA report showed a huge 61% of ECE teachers were non-Hispanic white, while only 16% identified as Black. 

Lack of support, hiring bias and financial barriers are just some of the challenges facing teachers of colour—and when you factor in the systemic difficulties that come with being a person of color in the US, the path to teaching can seem insurmountable.

But without teacher diversity, everyone loses out.

Research shows increased teacher diversity positively impacts children of color at school, minimizes biases between racial groups and boosts workplace productivity.

In other words, diversity = productivity and respect.

So how can ECE leaders promote teacher diversity, support educators of color and build a healthy school community?

 That’s where this comprehensive ebook comes in. We’ll help you understand the challenges, choose the right tools and figure out how best to welcome and support educators of color from day one.

Why teacher diversity matters

Teacher diversity is more important than ever—especially when it comes to supporting children of color as the population becomes more diverse. 

Plus, research shows inclusive companies are 1.7X more likely to be innovation leaders and 1.8X more likely to be able to cope with change—and in the post-pandemic world, organizational resilience is everything.

But for an educator of color, navigating the education field isn’t easy. Here’s why:

  • Policy changes: The NAEYC report “Increasing Qualifications, Centering Equity” explains the impact of recent policies which raise the bar for teacher qualifications. Financial and educational disparity  due to systemic inequalities makes it much harder for educators of color to respond to policy changes like these.
  • Hiring bias: The recruitment process is filled with bias potholes that either  turn teachers of color off from applying, or weed them out of the application process early on. The fact that ethnic minority candidates have to send 60% more applications says it all. With these systems against them from day one, it’s no wonder teaching can be a struggle.

01

Eliminate hiring bias

A great hiring process is the key to a diverse dream team—but if your process is bias-heavy, that dream will quickly turn into a nightmare.

How to increase teacher diversity in your ECE business

#1— Eliminate hiring bias

A great hiring process is the key to a diverse dream team—but if your process is bias-heavy, that dream will quickly turn into a nightmare.

The trick is to take a step back and look at your hiring process as a whole. When do diverse candidates drop out of the funnel? And are you doing everything you can to provide an equal, bias-free experience?

Here are a few suggestions to help you create an awesomely diverse hiring process:

  • Source diverse talent: Advertise via diversity job boards and try proactive sourcing to find top diverse talent. 
  • Use an ATS to filter bias: Applicant Tracking Systems are the best way to streamline your hiring process. The best tools will help you blind-screen, filter unnecessary info and keep your process bias-free.
  • Know your criteria: Before you begin your hiring round, decide what your judging criteria is and check it with a diverse group for any potholes.
  • Diversify your interview panel: Unconscious bias is real, so make sure your interview panel is as diverse as possible to avoid losing out on top talent at the last post.


02

Lobby for policy change in your area

So, you notice a policy that really isn’t working, and you want to do something about it. But where do you start? And will anyone even listen?

#2— Lobby for policy change in your area

So, you notice a policy that really isn’t working, and you want to do something about it. But where do you start? And will anyone even listen?

According to ECE expert Cindy Terebush, standing up for change is easier than you think:

“Your voice needs to be heard, people! I think one of the fatal flaws of our professional community is that we don't come together and stand as one. We’re in these silos and we're teaching and we don't even realize the universality of what we do,” she says.

Standing up for policy changes that affect the work of educators of color is an action any ECE professional can take. 

“Write emails to [policy makers]… just say, here's my concern. I'm your constituent. I'm somebody, I'm a voter,” says Cindy. “They want to hear from you. They're very interested in what the people who elect them to office have to say… The only way to change policy is to tell the policy makers what you need.”


03

Listen to teachers of color

In the workplace, listening increases employee engagement, improves retention rates, and boosts company culture.

#3— Listen to teachers of color

It’s no secret that listening can make you a better leader.

In the workplace, listening increases employee engagement, improves retention rates, and boosts company culture—plus, it’s key to understanding your employees better.

Here’s how to listen like a pro:

  • Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask employees what they think about policies or wider business decisions to create a culture of inclusion. 
  • Listen to the answers: Listen carefully to what’s being said and what’s not. Repeat back to show you understand and ask further questions to dig deeper.
  • Encourage discussion: For an educator of color, work can be a challenging environment. Arrange regular 1:1s to give your employees the opportunity to talk about their experiences. Note: If an employee is struggling with something, work with them to figure out how you can help and refer them to a professional if necessary. 


Offer opportunities for teacher feedback: It’s important to check how you’re doing, and what you can do to improve. Ask employees to complete anonymous feedback surveys—and then act on them.

04

Connect with your community

Every ECE pro knows education is about more than just teaching ABCs—it’s about building a strong community.

#4— Connect with your community

Every ECE pro knows education is about more than just teaching ABCs—it’s about building a strong community.

As you build teacher diversity, connect with your wider community to share your diversity wins, encourage acceptance and offer support. 

  • Share your values: Be open about your diversity values and expectations from your first interaction with potential employees and families. Remind your community what you stand for by sharing your values on your website, newsletters and even posters around your buildings.
  • Streamline your services: Make it easy for parents to use your systems, and for employees to speed through admin with an all-in-one child care management tool. The less time your community wastes on paperwork, the more time they’ll have to talk.


Communicate your wins: Shout about your diversity initiatives and share announcements with families by connecting via a customized communication tool.

(Psst! We can think of one tool you’ll love 😉).

05

Develop diversity training initiatives

Regular diversity training workshops can help provide relevant, consistent education on how to increase allyship and become an even more inclusive community.

#5— Develop diversity training initiatives

Regular diversity training workshops can help provide relevant, consistent education on how to increase allyship and become an even more inclusive community.  

From encouraging conversation through roleplay to teaching white employees how to support students of color (so Black teachers don’t always have to), diversity training helps employees grow and navigate new experiences.

  • Hire a specialist diversity coach: Creating a diverse company culture isn’t easy, but diversity coaches specialize in leading the way. From group workshops to diversity consultations, they can help identify roads to diversity that aren’t always obvious.
  • Implement extra teacher support: Inclusivity is about supporting teachers of color with everyday challenges, as well as educating the wider business. Extra teacher support—like increased 1:1s or specialist mentors—can help teachers overcome obstacles and increase employee retention rates.
  • Encourage feedback and monitor company culture: Check your progress by asking (and listening to) employee feedback.

06

Introduce systemic social emotional learning

A systemic approach helps children, parents and employees feel supported, leads to higher teacher retention rates, and helps build stronger, more dynamic communities.

#6— Introduce systemic social emotional learning

Social emotional learning (SEL) is how people understand and deal with their emotions.

Schools around the US are introducing SEL programs into their teaching initiatives and company cultures.

A systemic approach helps children, parents and employees feel supported, leads to higher teacher retention rates, and helps build stronger, more dynamic communities.

“If we’re going to be a multicultural society, we need young people who can hear and understand the perspective of others so that we can create and navigate a common good,” explains David Adams, Director of SEL at the Urban Assembly, “[And] if our school systems are going to be relevant in 2020, in 2030 and 2050, in terms of the problems that our societies are facing, they need to be concerned about social-emotional development and the social fabric of our nation.” 

Social emotional learning is the basis of how we connect as humans and, for experts like David, it’s the key to innate workplace inclusion.

“Our schools don't just exist to make sure students can read, our schools are extensions of society itself… I would teach SEL even if it had no impact on learning whatsoever. These concepts are important enough that if there were no academic gains from social emotional learning, I still think it'd be one of the most important things schools do.”

Teacher diversity benefits everyone

Ever since Robert Lewis Gilbert first stepped through the doors of that white school in 1964, educators of color have been fighting for teacher diversity.

Teaching’s hard enough already. As an ECE leader, you have the power to lessen the load and give educators the time and space to do what they do best—teach.

From removing hiring bias to lobbying for change, consider taking action steps to make life easier for your teachers and your community.

Remember, more teacher diversity = a healthier, more well-rounded school.

Actions speak louder than words, right? So do demos.

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