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Picking Future Teachers

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By Jeanne Storm, Ed.D., director of the Future Educators Association® and associate executive director of PDK International

The classroom of high school biology students is full of kids with varying abilities, interests, and passions. Are there any future teachers in the bunch? Does the biology teacher see any potential future colleagues? What about the principal? As educators do we ever stop and consider that a couple of our current students could one day become the teachers down the hall?

When I was a kid I loved music. My mom got me started on piano lessons and before long it was fun and I enjoyed playing. But I never thought about teaching piano as a career until my music teacher suggested that I might consider it. Having that adult, someone I admired and respected, take interest in my future was enough to make me start down the path toward becoming a music teacher. I diverged slightly from the path, teaching elementary education instead of music, but the bug was in my ear that I just might have what it takes to teach. For me, this turned into a rich and rewarding career. Thanks Mrs. Appleby — you were right!

Teachers have the unique ability to select and cultivate their future colleagues from the middle and high school students they teach. Given that good education depends so much on the quality of the educators, we owe it to ourselves and future generations to encourage students with the right skills to consider the calling. When we see students that we'd like to join us in the teaching force are we encouraging them to consider becoming a teacher? Are we providing that student with opportunities to explore the teaching career? Are we creating meaningful opportunities such as job shadowing, peer tutoring, and even high school course work in education?

Let's start encouraging the students we'd like to see teaching in tomorrow's classrooms to consider careers in education. Let's give them a taste of what teaching can be like and start encouraging them to give the career consideration. Researchers have determined that the single most powerful variable in determining if a high school student would consider teaching as a career option was simply whether or not other individuals had discussed the career choice with the student. When a trusted, respected adult (like my Mrs. Appleby) takes the time to talk about a career in education, students listen. Let's start talking!

Educators have the power to hand select, cultivate, and nurture their future colleagues. Look no further than your classrooms...and pick wisely.


Views expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the endorsement of the Learning First Alliance or any of its members.

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