It is no news to any of you that the nationwide teacher shortage is impacting Texas in a big way. In an April survey of over 1100 educational leaders across the country, two-thirds reported not finding enough qualified applicants to fill vacancies (Buttner, 2021). The retirement of the last of the Baby Boomers, COVID-19 fears, and a 27% decrease in the number of newly certified teachers since 2014 have combined to create far more than normal vacancies. What’s a principal or human resources expert to do?
The ability to pivot – changing strategy without altering vision – is as critical in education as it is in business. Teacher recruitment is no longer a matter of posting vacancies, attending college fairs, and sifting through a pile of qualified applicants. Teacher recruitment in this market requires digging into someone’s why. Why do people want to teach? Why might they be interested in your school or district? Those answers help shape your strategy to attract and retain teachers.
DRAW THEM IN
It is November and energy may be in short supply. But it is also the perfect time to update your current teacher recruitment materials and social media accounts. How can you position your school to appeal to applicants’ whys, getting them excited about teaching in your school? The best marketing appeals to our hearts. While potential applicants are going to get around to looking at your salary schedule, benefits, and test scores, that is not what is going to hook them. Draw them in with pictures and stories of students and teachers engaging with learning in fun and novel ways. Hook them with how your team is going to support them as teachers, helping them develop into the successful educators you need.
Just as good teachers are good salespeople – “selling” their students on the quadratic formula, punctuation, and the War of 1812 – effective administrators must sell their school and the teaching profession to those not yet in the field. Energy and excitement are contagious. When you develop an effective marketing campaign aimed at teacher recruitment you engage your students, families, and communities on how rewarding and fulfilling a career in education – in your school – can be.
THE BIG LEAP
We all know people who aren’t thrilled with their current career, who always wanted to teach but were discouraged from entering a field notorious for low pay. It is a big leap to leave the safety of the known for the unknown world of teaching. What will help them overcome this reticence? That excitement and energy you are creating can go a long way towards convincing them.
Every year, Teachers of Tomorrow Teacher Certification receives interest from over 36,000 people who found the website while searching for a more rewarding and fulfilling career. Fewer than half of those actually enter the program and obtain their initial license. We know that potentially great teachers are out there working in jobs that don’t make them jump out of bed in the morning. They just need to be sold.
We are living in an unusual time; so much of pre-COVID work and society is shifting to develop new norms. It is a time when many people are reevaluating everything about their lives. Help them make the leap by developing marketing strategies that target their whys, allay their fears, and excite them to follow their dream of becoming a teacher.
Buttner, A. (April 19, 2021). The Teacher Shortage, 2021 Edition. Frontline. https://www.frontlineeducation.com/blog/teacher-shortage-2021/
About the Author: Laura Henry
The former Executive Director of Chinquapin Preparatory School – a college prep boarding school for low-income students who are able and motivated – Dr. Laura Henry has worked in both public and private education for 30 years as a school leader, college professor, and alternative certification coach and trainer. Laura also serves as the Chair of the North American Boarding Forum for the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA), and mentors underserved youth. Laura’s doctoral and master’s degrees are both from the University of Houston’s education department and her B.A. in History was earned at Rice University.
About Teachers of Tomorrow (www.teachersoftomorrow.org)
Teachers of Tomorrow is the largest, fastest growing Teacher Certification Program in the nation, delivering online and in-person training to individuals pursuing a career in teaching. Teachers of Tomorrow is also the #2 most diverse certification program in the country with 46% non-white enrollment; and 70% of their teachers remain in the profession after five years, versus the national average of only 50%. Over the last 12 years, Teachers of Tomorrow has certified more than 45,000 new teachers, and in 2016 the Company trained and certified an estimated 7,000 teachers. Teachers of Tomorrow is an approved teacher certification provider in Texas, Arizona, Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, and South Carolina.