Professional Development Opinion

After-graduation teacher-training programs: a god-send or a curse?

By AAEE — June 30, 2008 2 min read
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Recently I was surprised to hear two different school districts in major cities advertising for “anyone with a bachelor’s degree” to apply to teach. The advertisements stated that the districts were desperate for teachers and could certify anyone with a bachelor’s degree. One district even said certification could be accomplished in only two Saturdays of preparation. I was shocked! How could someone with two days of preparation be the equivalent of a teacher who trained and studied for many years in college and was then mentored by a master teacher during a semester of student teaching? How could someone off the street be considered for such a role, especially during this time of “No Child Left Behind”? Is this an aberration or is this a thing of the future? If we are not able to fill our teacher roles with quality, qualified teachers will we resort to taking whoever is available? Has the demand completely outstripped the supply of certified teachers?

I genuinely hope that this is an aberration. Historically when the economy has been strong students tend to leave the field of teaching for more lucrative careers. Now that the economy is softening we should see more students return to the teaching field. Also, there has never been a larger number of teachers facing retirement - especially early retirement. This has fueled the fire of teaching vacancies. There are other reasons that add to this predicament but they all add up to a glut of teacher vacancies and a shortage of teacher candidates. A student at a recent teacher fair told me he was shocked at how many recruiters asked, “What can we do to get you to teach at our school?” This is a far cry from the days of “scrambling for a job” and “taking what you can get.”

Most districts agree the failure rate of new teachers is highest among these “quickee” certified teachers. These teachers tend to have more problems and need more supervision than traditionally certified teachers. I would assume that these are a stop-gap for our present supply and demand problem and soon we will return to a balance. Would it help if this issue were addressed by our state legislatures and federal governments? Will this problem continue if we do not back up “No Child Left Behind” with funds to reward all teachers as well as master teachers? Is this a problem that will work itself out or is there need for further discussion and action?

Hopefully we can have discussions about this problem with our cohorts and our government leaders and agree on some solutions soon.

Bob Maxfield
BYU-Idaho Teacher Career Services

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