- Some high schools are creating versions of teacher learner academies to engage students in the exploration of teaching as a career path, building out a better pipeline of prospective teachers, Edutopia reports.
- One program, called Educators Rising, works with high schools to allow interested students to study the process of obtaining a teacher’s certificate, interview teachers about their experiences, and gain experience of their own by planning lessons and working with teachers.
- Some state-funded programs, like Recruiting Washington Teachers, help forge teaching career pathways for high school students in order to encourage future educational workforce diversity and to encourage students to return home to teach.
With reports of a looming teacher shortage and concern about the lack of diversity in the teaching profession, some states and school districts are looking to grow-your-own programs to help fill the gap. Versions of these programs can be seen in multiple states, including Ohio, Kentucky, and Florida. While some programs offer a semester-long sampling of teacher education, others, such as new Scholar Teacher program in North Carolina, offer a career track complete with the possibility of a scholarship to finish college if students commit to returning home to teach.
The success of these grow your own programs varies, and some experts feel the cost may not be worth the results. But they do offer hope for school districts struggling to attract teachers, especially teachers of color and those with bilingual skills. The programs also benefit students. As Diane Salazar, state director for career and technical education at the Texas Education Agency (TEA), notes, grow-your-own teacher programs are essentially a field-based internship for a high school student that offer a win-win for students and school districts.
“The benefits of the program are many. Participants get a real taste of what it’s like to be a teacher through their work in district classrooms, helping them determine whether teaching is truly the career path they want to pursue. Districts get additional helping hands in the classroom and potentially increase their pipeline of educators in the future,” Salazar said.
Students are not the only source for candidates for grow-your-own educator programs. Some programs look for potential candidates within the community, while others encourage school district non-instructional staff to pursue teaching degrees. Whatever form this takes, in the current competitive recruitment environment, school districts may need to look for creative solutions to attract and retain teachers.