What is Talent Pipeline Mapping and Why Do It?
By Aleka Calsoyas published on Oct 7, 2022
min read
Illustrated pipes

This is the second part of a three-part blog series. If you missed the first part, read it here: type: entry-hyperlink id: 1n6jlDbHXOkks1n6iY2pJG.

The Value of Pipeline Mapping

Each institution should have a clear picture of their educator pipeline that runs along the continuum of the roles, typically from paraprofessional to Principal, but it can also extend as far back as high school students (future recruits to many roles) and all the way to central office leadership. The pipeline has many points of entry (opportunities to recruit), places where internal pools can be strengthened by programming, such as professional development and engagement.

The better the conceptual picture of what a district's particular pipeline looks like, the easier it is to identify strategies to meaningfully improve recruitment and retention. Looking at the picture, it is also possible to see where a particular institution has good information about the pipeline and where it's lacking. For instance, a large district may know that they have about 150 student teachers, but may not know much else about them. Or they may have a list of their emails and cooperating teachers but may not know what their interests are toward their first full-time position. Similarly, a smaller rural district may know that they lose high-performing teachers to neighboring institutions but may not know why or whether or not there is anything that can be done to increase engagement and retention.

Pipeline into Teaching

Let’s start with one of the most basic building blocks of human capital work: hiring teachers. Your potential hires come from a pool of candidates, get screened by some process and hopefully, positions get filled by those candidates. But where do the candidates in the pool come from? We can think of the flow of candidates coming into the pool as coming from a pipeline.

We can break down these sources into two categories: people who don’t have an existing relationship with the district’s pipeline (external sources) and people who do have an existing relationship with the district (internal sources). Note that for our purposes here, external sources will only become part of the “pipeline” once they have been touched by the “recruitment process” and the district has the ability to cultivate that contact.

Recruitment strategies are different for these different sources, as will be their professional development needs as new hires, and the best strategies to engage and retain them. They can be newly credentialed teachers straight out of their student-teaching experience, candidates from alternative prep programs, experienced teachers who are new to the region, teachers with an existing job outside of your institution, current staff looking to transfer, and/or participants in a grow-your-own residency program, etc.

It is important to note that since we are only considering people part of your “pipeline” if they have been engaged in some way – unless you know they are interested and have the ability to cultivate that interest, and take action – they aren’t truly part of the picture. The diagram below exaggerates this distinction with the outlined vs filled colored boxes.

As we break down the pipeline more we can see additional opportunities to increase the number of people from each source, as well as their level of engagement. The more the number of people, their level of engagement, pool strengths, and diversity grow, the more your opportunity to make great matches between candidates and positions increases. Not all institutions will have access to every type of pipeline source, and context and existing efforts will determine what types of strategies will yield the most benefit.

Let’s just take as an example a district that allows prep partners to place practicum students in their classrooms but doesn’t track these placements at all. They also accept student teachers, but have no centralized process for the placements and only collect information on what the placements are after they have been finalized by doing required background checks and processing host teacher stipends.

The current pipeline from practicum placements is basically non-existent, and yet can be strengthened from student teacher placements into the candidate pool. Neither of these efforts requires many resources. A simple placement process for practicum and student teachers that collects information on their interests and gives them some voice in the process starts engagement early by building a relationship grounded in transparent processes and respect. This can create a channel for institutions to share information on culture, interesting initiatives, and hiring processes. The information gathered from future candidates can help inform outreach, hiring, and onboarding processes.

Pipeline Beyond Teaching

We can use this same example to extend our concept of the pipeline along the educator continuum. If paraprofessionals represent one potential pipeline into the teacher role, we can make a similar sketch for the pipeline into the paraprofessional roles. Notice also that as with teachers, paras also make lateral transfers, to a slightly new role, or a new site. A transfer of this sort, when done with intention, can provide growth and leadership opportunities and deepen engagement. The supports that novices are given, as well as professional development opportunities for those who are experienced in their role, can increase retention and engagement as well as strengthen the pipeline into new roles.

We can see a similar dynamic at play when we look at school leadership as well.

From the above sketch, we can see how we identify, develop, and support future teacher leaders and current teacher leaders who can help build a stronger pipeline into school leadership. Yet, many district HR professionals will acknowledge that there is, at the central level, very little visibility into teacher leadership. Opportunities for teachers to express interest in taking on additional responsibilities can differ greatly by site, and coaching and mentorship can vary greatly by school leader, grade, and subject areas. Not only does a failure in visibility into teacher leadership hamper the ability to develop and recruit future school leaders from internal pipelines, but it can also reduce engagement and affect retention. Many districts do not even know which teachers hold current administrative credentials, and why they decided to get one, and why they aren’t currently seeking a leadership role. These are important questions, and the answers can help HR staff improve approaches to a number of challenges and repercussions where the root causes may not be apparent.

As we can see from the sketches of the teacher pipeline and the AP pipeline, the two can be linked together, moving from teacher to teacher leader. We can then extend this to the Principal role as well.

Of course, organizations may have different policies around requirements for the Principal role, some may require AP experience, others may not, and the flow may look different.

Why Make a Map?

Just creating the map has value. It encourages structured thinking and conversation around what parts of your pipeline are activated, dormant, or non-existent, but the real power lies in using the map to ask questions and capture information. Generally speaking, at every stage in the pipeline we can ask ourselves the important questions about each category or “bucket” around:

  • Institutional knowledge and visibility

  • Access and opportunity

  • Category health from a pipeline and HR needs perspective

If you would like more support mapping your talent pipeline, email us at [email protected].

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