Solving the Teacher Shortage Crisis
It’s a real crisis and I really don’t know how to fix it. Young people just aren’t going into the teaching profession. I don’t know why. Have we spent too many years talking about how hard the job is? Do we focus too much on the low pay?
Why do school districts have to compete for the limited supply of trained teachers coming out of our universities?
One principal questions the universities, suggesting they could help us by pushing teaching in their job fairs and student counseling. I don’t know if college advisors are talking about teaching less and that’s why fewer students are going in or if there are other reasons.
The Putnam City Schools Foundation and District plan to invest in teacher’s assistants and others who want to get a teaching job by providing funds for the required college classes, but I’m being told we might not even have enough candidates to use all the funding we intend to put into the program!
I did hear some very encouraging news from the Oklahoma State Department of Education. They are using federal dollars to pay college students to complete their student teaching. This is a great idea. I recall my time student teaching as stressful because I still had to find a way to work some evenings. It would be so nice if we could pay them for this work, because they do eventually function as a co-teacher and spend as many hours as their mentor teacher preparing lessons, grading papers and doing duties.
This is not going to flood the universities with students who want to become teachers, though. We need more solutions. One idea I have is to start Future Teachers of America chapter at each of our high schools. Students involved in this extra-curricular club could participate in job fairs at school, conduct awareness campaigns, and have their own teachers present to them on the merits of being a teacher. Several states have clubs such as this. Moore High School has one as well, but we need them in Putnam City.
This is a long game, but if we don’t start today thinking of creative and strategic ways to combat this crisis now, we will lose our democracy.
There will be no public school without public school teachers.
December 1, 2021