A CASE STUDY REGARDING AFRICAN AMERICAN TEACHER RETENTION: AND WHY DO THEY STAY?
Doctor of Education
Federick Dresssen, Ed.D.
The disproportional ethnicity gap between African American teachers to African American students exists and will continue to shrink the current and future reserve of African American teachers if unaddressed. The study revealed how current and past efforts to ethnically diversify Minnesota’s teacher workforce have failed to keep pace with student growth. This qualitative research case study identified, examined, and analyzed the protective processes influencing nine African American urban public elementary classroom teachers in Minnesota to continue teaching. The goal was to learn from the teachers themselves what influenced them to choose to continue in-person, urban, public, elementary school teaching in Minnesota. A semi-structured interview approach examined the tacit practices, perspectives, and lived experiences of the nine African American teachers. The study found that intrinsic and extrinsic protective factors influenced these teachers to persevere in classroom teaching situated within six overarching thematic areas. The intrinsic theme areas include: 1) a passion for teaching, love for the children, and faith, 2) being a role model, and 3) having a determination to improve lives. The extrinsic theme areas were 4) importance of learning and teaching in a diverse environment, 5) support systems, and 6) post-secondary teacher preparation.
The study’s interviewees maintained that educational stakeholders’ willingness to overtly value an ethnically diverse teacher workforce and explicitly value urban-focused teacher preparation programs are likely to increase all students’ academic achievement for a new vision of African American classroom teachers. These key findings, implications for practice, and recommendations for future research include explicit knowledge transfer and attention to expanding the field to include a new vision of African American in-person urban public elementary classroom teacher retention. The study concluded that the retention of current and future African American classroom teachers requires educational stakeholders to address the disproportionate ratio of African American students to African American teachers and to recognize ethnic diversity as essential to nurturing African American classroom teachers. This study recommended stakeholders more intentionally support efforts to retain current and future African American urban public elementary classroom teachers. More specifically, educational leadership must bolster teachers’ social-emotional competencies and resilient characteristics; leaders would do well to build upon the teachers’ strength, fortitude, courage, and effectiveness, all of which were demonstrated by teachers choosing to persevere in urban classroom teaching.
Keywords: African American teacher retention, African American teacher support systems, the disproportionate ratio of African American teachers, education equity, ethnically diverse teachers, teacher perseverance, teacher resilience, urban-focused teacher preparation, and value of African American teachers.