If you want to inspire a new group of educators, share this quote from George Lucas: “Education is the single, most important job of the human race.” Read it out loud, give them time to reflect, and let it sink in that they are beginning a truly life-changing career. Education should be a revered profession that develops an elite group of passionate people into life-changers themselves. What other career can make such an impact and boast success in the lives of its “clients”? For everything we are or become, we must give thanks to a teacher.
So, why do we not have hordes of young people embarking on this rewarding path? There is a sense of fear or naivety. (Maybe education seems too “old-school” against other high-tech, big money jobs?) The pressures of education may be too much, or young people may know little about the field and how it is changing. As experienced teachers, administrators, coaches, etc., we need to alleviate the pressures felt when talking about education by equipping individuals with a “teacher toolkit”- the training, guidance, knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to develop into quality educators and lifelong learners. As the single, most important job of the human race, we must uphold education the way one would a priceless work of art- with great care and dignity.
The essential question- How do we properly train and develop our future educators?
Recruitment in High School/Early College
Budding educators require outlets to gain information and make connections to teaching and education. High schools around the country should be offering students on this career path programs like Teacher Cadets or Future Educators of America. These programs allow shadowing and even practicums to take place in various classrooms and areas of a school building. Future educators can get an opportunity to go behind-the-scenes of schools and see teaching/coaching/administration in action. These programs can also offer partnerships and connections to educational speakers, career fairs, and colleges. If we can encourage students in these programs to continue on this path, colleges can make offers and begin the enrollment process. Other important areas in teacher recruitment include allowing future educators to have a respected mentor and begin networking. Future educators should be given opportunities to work with students to view how they learn and how to effectively communicate with them. They need to have an educational mentor to go to for advice or information on the profession. These initial steps can help an individual feel confident in making the decision to pursue an educational career.
Getting Up to Date on Education
Today’s educational environment is diverse. There are so many sectors to consider, methods, and models of teaching to try, curriculum to utilize, and ideas to align with. Education is no longer one-size-fits-all. Once a student is enrolled, colleges should incorporate exploratory classes or sessions into their educational degree programs. These classes or sessions should provide overviews of the different avenues an educator can work in. Experts from different sectors (public, private, charter, Montessori, online, international, etc.) should be available to speak on behalf of their personal and professional experiences. These classes would be beneficial for future teachers needing to understand and find their niche and/or passion in today’s wide range of schooling. To put it simply, when a teacher is happy in their environment, so are the students; when teachers are happy in their environment, the school is an exciting place to be. Happiness in educators= retention and a desire to pursue further leadership opportunities that can positively impact the school and its stakeholders.
More Comprehensive Training and Professional Development
No matter what path a future educator takes, they need high-quality, comprehensive training and professional development. This occurs when great schools have strong teachers and leaders that volunteer to open up their offices and classrooms for student teaching and/or practicums. An emphasis must be placed on exposure- future educators need to see real classroom scenarios, effective classroom management, participate in educational meetings, work on instructional planning, and practice their communication skills and community relations. Just as doctors must undergo clinicals, teachers, too, must find and then work in the environment that best serves them, and, in return, will allow them to best serve others.
Additional Help- Research
Future educators need to be shown how to become avid researchers of education. They should be introduced to great leaders, current research and best practices, podcasts, blogs, magazines, websites, and books. Future educators have to embrace an ever-changing society along with technology; they will “know and grow” more in the field, be open to different perspectives and ideas, work smarter and faster, and communicate with other educators around the world.
By “starting from scratch” with future educators, we will create more preparedness and interest in the field of education, thus creating a positive outlook that assists in navigating the college years and obtaining their chosen career path.