Diversifying the Montessori Teacher Workforce for a More Inclusive Classroom

Diversifying the Montessori Teacher Workforce for a More Inclusive Classroom

Diversity is a crucial topic in today's climate—whether in business, the workplace, or schools. These are the different aspects that inform how we view the world, such as socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religious beliefs, political views, etc.

Diversity in education also means that every child brings their experiences, ideas, strengths, and weaknesses. For this reason, we cannot talk about inclusive education without addressing the reality of diversity in the classroom.

One way to do this is through the educators who directly impact the training and development of students in classrooms. So, we will explore the various ways of diversifying the Montessori teacher workforce to achieve more inclusive classrooms.

"The population of students in U.S. schools has been steadily diversifying over the past two decades, but many students of color will go through their entire K – 12 career without ever encountering a teacher or school leader who shares their racial or ethnic background."

Anna Egalite, PhD

Why a Diverse Montessori Teacher Workforce Matters

Now more than ever, we have the most diverse Montessori classrooms and schools. As of 2015, enrollment in public schools was 75% from racial and ethnic minorities.

The National Center for Education Statistics revealed the majority of enrollees from minority racial and ethnic groups, with Hispanic, Black, and Pacific Islander populations leading at 60%, 58%, and 53% respectively. Asian (38%), American Indian/Alaska Native (37%), and white populations made up only 5 percent. Further, most of these pupils come from low-income families as well.

The composition has only increased since then. In the 2018 – 2019 statistics, 53% of all U.S. Elementary and Secondary students were non-white.

This sits in stark contrast to the teacher workforce diversity, where about 79% are non Hispanic white while the rest make less than 1 in 10.

We need to diversify our Montessori teacher workforce for the many benefits and significance on the learning outcomes, and potential for an inclusive education approach.

But perhaps the most notable one is that representation matters. Increasing diversity in the Montessori teacher workforce helps our Montessori schools implement culturally relevant teaching. Students will also experience the feeling of belonging.

Beyond these reasons, increasing studies suggest positive outcomes when the teaching workforce reflects the student body demographics. As listed below, among other benefits, these outcomes include positive test scores, attendance, and low suspension rates.

There is an ever-growing need for teachers to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population of students. Having a workforce that reflects the diversity in our classrooms and schools can help create a more inclusive environment where everyone feels respected and valued.

We can break down the benefits of Montessori teacher workforce diversity as opportunity for relatable role models, academic performance expectation, and cultural responsiveness.

Opportunity for Relatable Role Models

Role modeling is key to creating a more inclusive classroom.

When students see teachers who look like them, they are more likely to feel comfortable and accepted within the educational setting. It is critical that they are able to connect their identity with what they are learning to make the material more relatable and meaningful.

Furthermore, with relatable role models in educators, schools can also dispel misconceptions or stereotypes about certain groups of people that students may have acquired through societal outlets like the media or casual conversations with peers.

According to Anna Egalite, there is also an impact on academic attitudes and perceptions with race-matched students.

Academic Performance Expectation

Gershenson, Holt, and Papageorge (2016) study on implicit bias brings in an element of performance expectation from teachers.

Students of color would benefit from a race-matched teacher workforce as the teachers of color have higher expectations from them. The phenomenon of self-fulfilling prophecies means the expectations set by these educators become true—when high standards are expected from their pupils, they work to meet them.

This has far reaching implications on educational attainment levels and how the Montessori classrooms can bring inclusive education to all.

Cultural Responsiveness

For teachers to effectively teach a diverse classroom, it is essential that they understand how cultural responsiveness plays into teaching methods and strategies.

That can be possible when there is experiential understanding of where the student is coming from—background and culture. Teacher workforce diversity allows exchange of experiences and collaboration to create culturally responsive approaches to teaching.

With this, Montessori educators and leaders can reimagine teaching materials and adoption to fit an inclusive education context.

Building Montessori Teacher Workforce Diversity

Successful hiring and retaining a diverse Montessori teacher workforce will start at the top.

Positions of power, influence of authority, such as school principals, should reflect the multi-cultural ethnicity in our Montessori schools. Only then can the effects trickle down to the teacher's representation.

Research by professors from N.C. State College, Vanderbilt University, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests this strategy can be successful due to its ability for principals of color—more likely than white counterparts—to retain those hires long term.

To develop a teaching workforce that reflects the diversity of our student population, school districts should look towards adapting their recruiting practices. That might mean attending job fairs outside state borders or collaborating with teacher recruitment and support networks to access a wider range of candidates.

Universities and colleges often design programs to attract and prepare minority teachers—for instance, the Minority Teacher Preparation Program at University of Wisconsin. Starting here by partnering with such institutions is a good option for finding and integrating diversity in the teaching staff.

Alternative certification programs also exist for teachers to work while pursuing their degrees. Alternative certification programs provide an excellent opportunity for administrators to hire talented minority mid-career changers or educators passionate about advocating for specific student communities. By doing so, they can diversify their teaching staff and create more dynamic and inclusive classrooms that cater to all students.

Another possible solution is establishing “grow-your-own” programs, which target diverse teachers from within their local area in order to effectively boost representation among educators who best understand students' needs.


Teacher workforce diversity is one facet to promoting inclusive education in our educational system, but quite a crucial one.

From the current school demographics and research, students from minority and majority communities will benefit from a diverse teaching workforce in classrooms. When teachers bring different perspectives, ethnicities, languages, and cultures into our classrooms, it helps create a more equitable learning environment where students of all backgrounds access relatable learning experiences.

Educators and administrators have the power to support our school communities in becoming culturally responsive and help create more inclusive classrooms for all, especially in Montessori schools.


Egalite, A. J. (2021, March 1). Diversifying Montessori Teacher Workforce for a More Inclusive Classroom. American Montessori Society.

Gershenson, S., Holt, S. B., & Papageorge, N. W. (2016). Who believes in me? The effect of student–teacher demographic match on teacher expectations. Economics of Education Review, 52, 209–224.

About the Author

Tonika Bruce

Tonika Bruce(she/her) is an author, coach, and founder of Lead Nicely Inc., a digital marketing agency equipping businesses, nonprofits, and educational institutions to succeed online, especially Montessori schools. She has written for Forbes magazine and featured as an expert panelist in BuiltIn, the YEC, Inc, Recruiter, and SmallBizTrends. She is a mother of two Montessori students and an advocate for impacting building communities.

Interested in writing a guest post for our blog? Let us know!

The opinions expressed in Montessori Life are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of AMS.

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