I recently attended the joint boards meeting with Career and Technical Education, Education Standards and Practices Board, and representatives from our teacher preparation programs in the state of North Dakota. We talked in great detail about how we prepare our teachers, and more importantly about the teacher shortage we are seeing in North Dakota. Janet Welk the director of ESPB mentioned that we are seeing far less graduates from teacher prep programs than in years past.
The teacher shortage is a complex problem. In years past we would get upwards of 30 applicants for an elementary position. Last year we received a total of seven. Why are we seeing less people go into this great profession? I think there are a myriad of reasons why, but I believe it stems down to respect for the profession. We as educators do not do a good enough job promoting teaching as a career option. I have heard comments from teachers directed at some of our best and brightest questioning why they would want to be a teacher. Unfortunately, they believe they can do more. I even caught myself wondering why my second grade daughter wants to be an art teacher.
If we do not promote our profession we will continue to see a low applicant pool. This may impact our ability to fill positions with high quality people. We need our best and brightest to choose education. Those are the types of people that we need to do this very difficult job. Teaching cannot be seen as a back up career choice for young people. We need to sell our profession and talk positively about it with students heading to college. We need high quality people to enter this profession that are passionate, and motivated to change lives.
Teachers - talk highly about what you do! You have the hardest, yet most rewarding job in the world!