Doctor of Education
Dr. Jerry Robicheau
Dr. Laura Wangsness Willemsen
Dr. Tyrone Brookins
A teaching force which is representative of the student population is critical to creating equitable learning opportunities in the increasingly diverse United States. Both students of color and White students must see themselves represented in their teachers. Additionally, it is important for all students to see people of color as educators as well as in positions of power. Unfortunately, the proportion of teachers of color currently in the field of education does not come close to the proportion of students of color in public schools in the United States.
While there are many aspects which add to the problem of teacher of color representation, this research addresses teacher of color retention. Current research suggests that while teachers of color enter the field of teaching at a similar rate to White teachers, retention for teachers of color is far worse than for their White peers. Many previous research studies have discussed the challenges faced in the field by teachers of color and why many teachers of color leave due to these challenges. This dissertation, instead, focuses on the positive “stories of staying” from teachers of color who have remained teaching.
This research draws from the narratives of eight teachers of color to bring forward patterns that have supported their retention in the field. All participants were drawn from a teacher of color affinity program in one suburban school district. Participants in this study spoke specifically about the importance of racial matching with their students as an important internal factor for their retention in the field. They also discussed the interpersonal connections with a racial affinity group and/or mentor as critical. Finally, they discussed the external support of their site-level administrators as well as a district focus on providing opportunities for conversations about race as important to their retention in the field.
Based on these participant narratives, recommendations are provided for professional practice which might support conditions favorable to teacher of color retention. Additionally, recommendations for White educators are listed as the overwhelming majority of educators are still White. Finally, a discussion of colorism within the participant narratives provides recommendations for future research to understand how teachers of different races are impacted by challenging racial conditions.