- In a webinar hosted Wednesday by the National Association of State Boards of Education, HR and talent professionals from state and local education agencies said strategies such as increasing pathways to certification, supporting principals and building leaders around talent management, and providing internal support like hosting virtual career fairs helped build interest and diversity in the teacher pipeline.
- During COVID-19 closures, when many worried about teacher attrition and burnout, Connecticut saw an "increase — a record breaking interest — and engagement from future potential teachers," according to Shuana Tucker, chief talent officer for the state's Department of Education.
- Being intentional around data collection and usage can also help leaders track progress in recruiting and retaining teachers, especially teachers of color. "You can’t expect what you don’t inspect," said Aimee Green-Webb, chief of human resources for Jefferson County Public Schools in Kentucky. "Seeing that data and monitoring it on a regular basis is very important.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on the teacher workforce and increased turnover in some states, with some concerns centering on school or district health and safety protocols, burnout as a result of hybrid teaching, and the stress of additional responsibilities like guiding students through difficult emotions and connecting them with services.
This strain only exacerbates pre-existing teacher shortages, especially in high-need areas like STEM. "We were seeing our hard work fall out the bucket, if you will,” said Green-Webb. "We’ve worked really hard to plug those holes and figure out why we’re losing people."
The problem has led states to invest federal relief dollars in recruitment and retention efforts, like Grow Your Own programs. "It’s not an inexpensive endeavor to launch new programs or do some of this work," said Robert Hull, president and CEO of NASBE, during the webinar.
Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit organization dedicated to shifting outcomes for traditionally underserved students, called the availability of federal relief funds a "unique window of opportunity to transform education — including by diversifying their workforce through recruiting, training, and retaining more Black and Hispanic teachers."
Many of the organization's suggestions to grow and diversify the teacher workforce overlap with previously identified strategies and those suggested by participants in the webinar, such as:
- Prioritizing recruitment and higher ed partnerships. For example, some have found success recruiting high school students through Grow Your Own programs. Green-Webb suggested funding recruitment at non-education entities as well, and intentionally recruiting from colleges of arts and sciences to fill difficult positions such as STEM.
- Expanding pathways to the profession. Transitioning veterans into certification programs, for example, has worked for Tucker's state. Tucker also suggested developing a teacher pathway that leads from high school to para-educator training and work, and finally to working full-time for districts.
- Training school leaders to create inclusive, supportive environments. "A lot of it has to do with principals, decisions they make, and advisors in terms of hiring decisions," said Green-Webb. Talent management, she said, "really impacts their role as an instructional leader," and teacher retention "really is in their hands."