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Opinion
Teaching Profession Opinion

Teacher Shortage – What Does It Mean?

By AAEE — December 06, 2007 2 min read

We continue to use the term “teacher shortage” to describe the job market in education. Certainly there are considerable shortages in areas such as mathematics, the sciences, special education, and bilingual education. Supply and demand research from the American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) shows these fields with shortages nationwide.

What some of you find, however, is that the words “teacher shortage” do not apply equally across all education disciplines. Those of us who regularly visit with education recruiters hear stories about how many elementary, physical education, and social studies candidates they see. Indeed, AAEE research still shows that there are surpluses of candidates in these areas.

What can a candidate in an oversupplied field do to increase his or her chances of finding a position in the field of choice? First, be willing to “go where the job is.” Often school districts in urban or rural areas have more difficulty filling positions than suburban areas. Geographical and socio-economic flexibility increases the number of opportunities.

Second, have perfect applications. In any employment field, when there is an oversupply of candidates those with less than stellar paperwork are eliminated early in the selection process. Proofread carefully before pressing the “submit” button or before putting the paper application in the envelope.

Third, be the best candidate. It is easy for to say that, and it takes some early preparation, but it really does help to have positive experience with leadership and youth and a good academic record. There is also some truth in the belief that social studies teachers willing to coach have a better chance of being hired.

Finally, practice interviewing. Most career centers offer the opportunity to do mock interviews with staff members or with school administrators. Take advantage of this service at your home institution. Use the positive experiences you have already had as examples in your interviews; “I did” is more powerful than “I would.” You must also be able to SHOW that you truly care about children and youth; saying it is not enough.

Yes, I hear some of those hiring officials say they do not want to talk to any more elementary or social studies candidates – “We have enough.” But with preparation you may be able to change their minds.

--Kent McAnally,
Director of Career Services,
Washburn University

The opinions expressed in Career Corner are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.