Devalued + Demoralized = Teacher Shortage

The New York Times has a good read today stating what nearly every educator in the U.S. could have predicted: indications showing the beginnings of a teacher shortage in the U.S. Read the article here.

IMG_0008_2According to the author, because there aren’t enough teachers available to hire, urban districts across the U.S. – including Providence, RI right here in New England – are resorting to hiring teachers as “interns” who then are assigned a mentor (yeah!) and simultaneously complete a credentialing program at a university. Notice the word, simultaneously. That means the new teacher hired to be in a classroom has not been trained in nor exposed to such things as classroom management, child psychology, and pedagogy. Minor stuff, right?

Here’s something that doesn’t surprise anyone teaching today. Many educators in classrooms are demoralized. The public has been convinced that educators are lazy, shiftless leeches unable to make educational decisions without a scripted lesson. Teachers are told that our students don’t “achieve” as demonstrated by high-stakes, single shot testing created by a multi-national conglomerate with questionable motivation. And our worth as educators continues to be entangled with those scores quantifying whether or not we are effective teachers without regard to other factors. Factors over which educators have no control such as the poverty and eroding support for those with many hurdles to overcome. Demoralized? You bet.

Devalued? Well consider for a moment that the candidates who are featured in this article go through a year’s credentialing.  The amount of time spent in an induction (mentoring) program is not detailed, but anything less than three years is minimal. Personally, I feel that most of us would have benefited from five years of coaching and mentoring. So with minimal time spent learning how to become an educator and possibly minimal time being mentored to be an educator, what happens? The candidate is termed an “intern” – a technicality – so that person can fill the position while simultaneously learning to be a teacher. Does anyone see a problem here?

Given this atmosphere, is it any wonder that there is a teacher shortage? University and college students must be wondering why incur student loan debts for a career in education. Experienced teachers who are well-prepared and, despite arbitrary ratings based on students’ test scores, effective, are leaving the profession to retire early (as I did). And others are just plain tired of being trampled on by the press and corporate know-nothings and decide to move on.

Teacher shortage? Did anyone really expect a different outcome?