Louisiana Seeks To “Grow At Home” Teachers To Address Shortage
Louisiana is taking a personal growth approach to solving its problem of a teacher shortage, and educators say that will require a change in message about the profession.
The work needed to make the classroom a place where people want to be and stay starts early, building on efforts to develop Educators Rising clubs in middle and high schools as well as a new path to preparation programs. teachers.
The Louisiana Department of Education has implemented a pre-educator path that allows high school students to take dual-enrollment education classes before entering college.
For years, high school students have been able to earn college credit before graduating, but usually only for general courses like introductory English or math. This course allows students interested in the teaching profession to start their major early.
Then there are the courses offered by Educators Rising Louisiana, Educators Rising Louisiana, formerly known as Future Educators of America (FEA). It is a non-profit student organization and / or class for middle and high school students interested in the field of education-related careers, according to its website.
It aims to train a new generation of highly qualified educators by guiding young people on their way from high school to college and into their teaching careers. Clubs are now found in a growing number of high school and university campuses.
âWe cautiously hope that programs like Educators Rising and the Pre-Educator Pathway will really help us move the needle to recruit them and keep them in the profession and thrive and see their impact on the lives of students,â said Amy Weems, assistant. professor in the School of Education at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Aimee Barber, associate professor at the College of Education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, is also an educational advisor for the chapter of Educators Rising college, and the pilot group of EdRising clubs in five high schools in the parish of Lafayette and works to develop a network throughout the surrounding area.
âThe long-term plan is a ‘grow your own’ initiative,â Barber said. “We need to look at our own community and reframe the choice of the teaching profession.”
It starts by showing them what teaching can be and the impact they could have as teachers.
âWe have to see our profession as meaningful, see it as a way to improve the quality of life for children,â Weems said. “The more we can do with high school students who have strong leadership skills and a strong advocacy sense, the better.”
Such efforts not only expose young students to the idea of ââbecoming a teacher, but they also prepare and support them better in this process as well.
One way to do this is to change the narrative around the teaching.
âWe want to show them that they are valuable not only in schools but in the world,â said Barber.
Educators Rising classes teach students how to navigate advocacy and policy, giving them tools to shape conversations about education, Weems said. It helps students develop their âteacher voiceâ earlier, she said.
âThe topics and activities allow for these very courageous and honest conversations about what works and what doesn’t in education,â Weems said. âWe have to teach them how to handle these things. “
A major problem facing the teaching profession is the perception and messages surrounding it, and this has only been made public since the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools and changed the way classes could. unfold.
âThis pandemic has played for educators in the public eye,â Weems said. âWhether it’s discussions of masking, virtual school attendance, quarantine, these are all hotly and publicly debated issues. “
But teachers don’t feel included or heard when it comes to these debates, she explained.
âTeachers are often at the back of these discussions, but they are the ones who have to implement these decisions,â Weems said. âWe need to give teachers more voice. “
The feeling of exclusion and voicelessness impacts current teachers as well as the future generation who watch them. It comes down to messaging, Weems explained.
âThe policymakers who are making policies without the voice of the teachers, all of this has an impact on the message,â Weems said.
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The message has to change – a rebranding, if you will, that empowers teachers – and EdRising aims to do so, Barber said. A motto of the organization is âThere is power in educationâ. Barber wants his students in high school and college to know this and feel supported.
The goal is to have a triad model, pairing an EdRising member from a high school with an EdRising member from a college and a university faculty member for mentorship and strength in numbers. Students could go to local schools together to read to students or simultaneously gain other community services and classroom experience.
âThen high school students see themselves as active participants in their own community and agents of change,â said Barber. âOur numbers are also down (enrollment in the teacher preparation program). We are examining ourselves and what more we can do to expand our support on the ground.
To improve teacher retention, the state will need to “do a better job of advocating for work and doing due diligence to better understand the dynamics that drive exits,” Louisiana Superintendent of Education Cade said. Brumley.
This is largely related to the climate and culture of the school. He said educators want to work with leaders they like and appreciate and work in an atmosphere where they feel like valued and listened to contributors.
For example, the Department of Education is working to train ‘budding leaders’ through scholarship programs that prepare educators and staff to develop the leadership skills essential to become administrators – another model of’ thriving. – and create those attractive school climates.
Another element is compensation, and he sees it as an opportunity for school district leaders to explore new solutions.
âWe have to make sure that we value (teachers) for the professionals that they are,â said Brumley. âLocal school systems in this new market need to be more creative in their remuneration models. “
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For example, districts might consider offering compensation packages that include additional compensation for teachers in the most disadvantaged schools; certified teachers in the most requested areas (mathematics, special education); or teachers looking for leadership opportunities.
He’s also keen to work with state lawmakers to address retired teachers and how their retirement system is structured so that it doesn’t draw them back to the classroom to fill those shortages.
Another opportunity to ‘grow at home’ more teachers lies in the existing pool of paraprofessionals and substitute teachers, as there may be ways to incentivize and streamline the process to help them take on roles. full-time teacher, Brumley said.
Regardless of the method, working to get more teachers to enter and stay in Louisiana classrooms is essential for the state superintendent.
âAs a state, we have to ask ourselves ‘Where will we be as a society if we fail to successfully staff our classrooms?’â Said Brumley.