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Teacher Shortage – What Does It Mean?


We continue to use the term "teacher shortage" to describe the job market in education. Certainly there are considerable shortages in areas such as mathematics, the sciences, special education, and bilingual education. Supply and demand research from the American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) shows these fields with shortages nationwide.

What some of you find, however, is that the words "teacher shortage" do not apply equally across all education disciplines. Those of us who regularly visit with education recruiters hear stories about how many elementary, physical education, and social studies candidates they see. Indeed, AAEE research still shows that there are surpluses of candidates in these areas.

What can a candidate in an oversupplied field do to increase his or her chances of finding a position in the field of choice? First, be willing to "go where the job is." Often school districts in urban or rural areas have more difficulty filling positions than suburban areas. Geographical and socio-economic flexibility increases the number of opportunities.

Second, have perfect applications. In any employment field, when there is an oversupply of candidates those with less than stellar paperwork are eliminated early in the selection process. Proofread carefully before pressing the “submit” button or before putting the paper application in the envelope.

Third, be the best candidate. It is easy for to say that, and it takes some early preparation, but it really does help to have positive experience with leadership and youth and a good academic record. There is also some truth in the belief that social studies teachers willing to coach have a better chance of being hired.

Finally, practice interviewing. Most career centers offer the opportunity to do mock interviews with staff members or with school administrators. Take advantage of this service at your home institution. Use the positive experiences you have already had as examples in your interviews; "I did" is more powerful than "I would." You must also be able to SHOW that you truly care about children and youth; saying it is not enough.

Yes, I hear some of those hiring officials say they do not want to talk to any more elementary or social studies candidates – "We have enough." But with preparation you may be able to change their minds.

--Kent McAnally,
Director of Career Services,
Washburn University


Teacher shortage: Well, several of us feel teacher shortage might relate to students' behavior however, We feel the following is the cause of the shortage.......teachers are shorted on pay; the curriculum is a mess in some districts; the national gov't has stressed the importance of NCLB, BUT they have not visited EVERY district to tell the individual districts what that means to THAT district; therefore, by the time it gets to us(districts) (it's like a game of GOSSIP) the powers that be have misconstrued the message or they set standards so high that teachers stress out; Some districts add to the curriculum and don't take away some of it OR they have a messed up curriculum because we have to follow the frameworks and have a curriculum map and whoever does the map doesn't get the understanding of how to do it so it is a mess; Some have so much paperwork for teachers to do that it takes 40 sheets of paper per week to do the lesson plans and some of that is double work...PLUS those test they have people take are outrageous...most anyone can take a test and do paperwork BUT can they TEACH!!!! These are only a few things that enhances teacher shortage.

My experience as a former Coordinator of Student Teaching at a Private CA University was that many teacher candidates focus on acuqiring a teaching position within a short distance from their home.

This is limiting and hinders many from finding a full-time position ending up with a substitute position, which may or may not result in a full-time postion in the future

In searaching web-sites of districts across our State and across the country, I discovered an abundance of teaching positions available at all levels. Perhaps a more concerted effort to encourage candidates to look beyond their immediate area for positions, even for only a year or two, would result in acheiving their goal.

I am an elementary teacher and I love it. The paperwork and bureaucracy, not so much! But overall I am so happy to be a third grade teacher.

I am grateful that I got into the system when I did, four years ago. Back then, I got my position fairly easily - if you can call sending out 150 resumes and cover letters fairly easy.

I feel sorry for those who are trying to get a job offer and are competing against dozens if not hundreds of other candidates. Keep your chin up -- and keep trying. It's worth it!

We need a program in which a successful teacher can transfer into a subject shortage area through on the job content training. This would balance the alternative certification programs which recruit math and science professionals into teaching and assume their classroom management skills will develop on-the-job with coaching. I for one would switch to science if there was a way to get the content knowledge without giving up teaching to return to college.

As a retired teacher and the spouse of a teacher, I've experienced and seen how administrators in this area treat teachers. Why the union lets them is beyond me. If prospective teachers knew what I know, they'd not waste any more time preparing for what teachers have allowed their so-called career to be reduced to: "teaching to the test". NCLB needs to be repealed and teachers need to refuse to allow their success to be determined by their students' scores on standardized tests. As it stands, nobody in their right mind should be looking at public school teaching as a career choice.

I graduated iwth my bachelors in early childhood education in May of 2005. I have been substitute teaching ever since, thinking that it would help me get my foot in the door. I live in Michigan and we have a bad case of teacher shortage because our government keeps trying to take money away from education. I am keeping my head up about hopefully getting that full time position that I have worked so hard for. If any one could give any advise about getting that job or interviewing types it would be greatly appreciates.

In looking at the teaching shortage in America, I found a great study regarding teacher training. The Imagine America Foundation published a recent study which found career colleges are producing 40% of the instructional coordinators in America's Schools.Check out the study at www.imagine-america.org.

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The opinions expressed in Career Corner are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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