If we are truly serious about recruiting teachers, then I have a few suggestions I would like to offer.
First, high schools should all provide future teacher programs in high schools. Students who are interested in the teaching field can take a semester long course in which they are paired with a mentor teacher and act as a teaching assistant in the class. Providing an experience like this in the student’s senior year could be quite beneficial for students. They would get to experience some of the demands of the classroom from the teacher’s point of view and determine if teaching is a path they want to continue. Partnerships with elementary and middle schools could provide opportunities for those students interested in those grade levels as well.
Secondly, colleges should make sure to provide early field experience/observation hours from the beginning of the students education in the teaching program. Here in Illinois, 100 field experience observation hours must be completed before student teaching. I attended a small, private college and the path for completing these hours was clearly laid out for me, beginning with 10 hours the first semester of my freshman year. Those 10 hours confirmed that teaching was a field I wanted to enter (although I did change my majors focus from social studies to English…and now I’m teaching science!). However, for some of my classmates, those 10 hours showed them that teaching is NOT a field they wanted to enter. The next semester they chose a new path to take. Teaching is not for everyone, and those students were lucky to figure that out early in their education. At larger universities, field experience hours are often not completed until junior and senior years. At that point, it is almost too late to drop out of the teaching program without having to spend more than the normal four years completing your education. Having opportunities for early field experiences can only improve the pool of potential teachers.
Thoughts? Leave a comment!