USA school districts and district administrators are grappling with a teacher shortage crisis across the country. In a poignant article in District Administration, Principal Michelle Shindel of Glenwood Middle School in Maryland‘s Howard County Public School System says: “We have never started the school year without a full staff. This is the second year in a row that‘s happened. We’ll be in a real crisis if we can‘t figure out how to better grow kids in college and attract them to this field.”
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that “approximately 360,000 fewer teachers and support staff are empoloyed in public schools nationally than there were in March 2020.” (Educationelements.com). Data is clear in this matter: there is a crisis in US school districts retaining and recruiting teachers. MaiaLearning is here to help in providing an overview of the challenge as well as a list of solutions to support school districts as they navigate district challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to teacher burnout, as teachers had to reevaluate how they delivered lessons. In addition, stress around catching the virus when schools opened was palpable. Teachers and students grappled with ever-changing conditions, remote learning, and a school environment turned upside down. Many teachers left the profession. ABC News recently researched staffing issues with education departments in all 50 states. At least 39 states confirmed that they are struggling with this issue. The U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia also reported teacher shortages.
Technology is an investment that goes a long way for school districts. Technology platforms streamline district-wide reporting, save time and energy, and empower teachers to focus on what is most important: their students. Implementing an educational tech platform shows staff that a district is dedicated to easing administrative tasks and shows a forward-thinking approach in using resources. Furthermore, helping teachers manage their workload more efficiently through leveraging technology helps greatly in curbing burnout. Technology is a fantastic way for administrators to analyze data, figure out needs, and help make informed decisions.
EdTech Magazine explores this very topic in the article: Is Dated Technology Contributing to the Great Teacher Resignation? The article explores how outdated technology could be a deciding factor for qualified teachers exploring job opportunities. In this article, Bart Esptein, President and CEO of EdTech Evidence Exchange said: “Technology has become so integrated now into schools that it being done properly can be the deciding factor when teachers are deciding where to work.” Teacher shortages often means that educators are covering multiple classrooms at once, juggling a much heavier workload, subbing for sick colleagues and spreading themselves far too thin. Updated technology is one way to alleviate these shared challenges facing educators today.
The right educational tech platform boasts a breadth of programs, easing the stress of planning, specifically for Social Emotional Learning. MaiaLearning, for example, offers a robust SEL module that makes delivering SEL curricula easier for educators. Educational tech platforms should also offer a holistic solution from early years through the career planning years. MaiaLearning supports districts in
To be qualified for public education in most states in the USA, teachers and educators typically need master’s degrees. This is time-consuming and expensive. Many teachers take on part-time work over the summer, do tutoring outside of school, and sometimes need weekend jobs to supplement their income. Offering competitive compensation not only attracts qualified teachers to your district, but ensures they are focusing their efforts and attention on students and the work they do at school. The topic of rewarding teachers with higher compensation is not new. According to Brookings.edu, “Current calls for teacher compensation reform are motivated by concerns about teacher shortages, which have been nearing a crisis point during the pandemic.” This article, written by Michael Hansen, sheds light on this crisis and highlights reforms that can lead to success.
Teacher Engagement and Recognition
For school districts that do not have the financial bandwidth to implement the advice above, there are still myriad ways districts can retain and attract teachers. While this strategy may seem obvious or even simple, it is a crucial piece to tackling this crisis. Positive reinforcement goes a long way.
Although higher compensation is positive, most teachers do not enter an education career for money. They do this work out of passion and the desire to work with young people. Recognition for their commitment can keep teachers engaged.
According to the article Honoring Teachers: an Underused Tool in Retaining Talent during the Teacher Shortage, “teachers who are regulary recognized are more productive, more engaged at school, more likely to receive higher satisfaction scores from students and parents, and more likely to stay at their school. And yet, 70% of teachers report they have not recently been acknowledged or praised for their work, and a full 40% say they did not feel personally valued as a teacher in general.”
This large issue is easily addressed through positive recognition, staff appreciate breakfasts or lunch, social events after school, acknowledgement of a teacher‘s efforts, etc.
Professionals often change jobs and careers during their lifetimes. Teaching and education are no different. Although a professional may lack a traditional education degree, this should not keep skilled individuals from getting jobs in education.
Collaboration between colleges, alternative certification programs, and school districts is crucial to creating pathways for professionals from other industries. Through this collaboration, training, certification, and the necessary acumen transform professionals from other industries into qualified teachers. Teacher certification degrees has compiled detailed information and resources about certification.
Educational pedagogy continuously changes, and research is ongoing in this field. Teachers should have ample opportunities to hone their craft. Classroom management, educational theory, instructional techniques, and cultural competency are just a few topics that should be offered through professional development. Professional development should be ongoing and specific to age groups and learning needs. SimpleK12 offers a list of activities for educators in 2023. Teachers thrive when they connect with one another. Creating a space for teachers to work together, learn, and grow improves job satisfaction and positively affects students.
Student Loan Support
Student loans can feel crippling for teachers. School districts can cooperate with state and federal governments to offer incentives for teachers, specifically for high need schools that lack teachers in certain subject areas. Many university programs offer loan forgiveness for teaching in areas where subject specialists are scarce. A notable example of loan forgiveness is within the New York State system. More information can be found on the website of NYS Higher Education Services Corporation.
Positive School Culture
The pandemic negatively affected the mental health of both students and educators. It was a trying time, as school closures and illness became the new normal. School districts should do everything in their power to create healthy, positive work environments. Encouraging collaboration, respect, and student well-being are key factors in fostering a healthy workplace ecosystem. Districts should provide educators with resources and support to ensure their work environments help them thrive. When teachers thrive, students thrive.
Campaigns Focusing on Recruitment
Districts should seek out career fairs and recruitment opportunities. Participating in fairs is a fantastic way to have meaningful conversations with teachers who may want to work in your district.
Team up with local colleges and universities that offer education degrees and certifications. These partnerships ensure that your district is on the radar of current education students. If these institutions offer job boards to their students, post your vacancies and attract qualified educators before they graduate.
For more strategies, check out this article by Frontline Recruitment.
As with any profession, teaching has a learning curve, especially for newcomers. Schools should implement comprehensive mentor programs to support staff. Seasoned staff can be assigned new teachers; teachers with many years of experience are great mentors who can offer guidance and share best practices.
The role of educator can be emotional and draining. Mentors provide emotional support and equip newcomers with strategies to prevent burnout. Mentorship programs foster meaningful and supportive relationships between staff members, which contributes to a healthy work environment and longevity in staffing.
For more information, check out this article on Edutopia.org.
While the teacher shortage crisis prevails, there are steps administrators can take to promote this profession to new teachers while caring for and supporting long-term teachers.
When school districts, staff, colleges and certification programs come together, this major challenge in education can be alleviated over time. For more information about the MaiaLearning platform, contact us for a demo: