When I landed my first role in teaching, I returned to my former elementary school—my childhood neighborhood had changed, but there was a unique feeling of being at home again. The school didn’t change too much, and many of my former teachers were still in the classroom.
My first job interview for teaching 4th-grade was with a group of teachers I had while I was growing up, and they interviewed me for a role to cover the retirement of my 3rd-grade Reading teacher.
At the end of all of the questions, I knew I was back home.
My 4th-grade math teacher hugged me, welcomed me to the team, and I began to teach that fall.
My experience working with youth in the same school I attended made an incredible difference not only for me but for my students as well. I could relate to my students in a way others couldn’t because I knew many of the challenges they faced—many that were similar to my struggles as a child.
Teachers In Crisis
For those who don’t work in education, you may not know that we have a teacher crisis on our hands right now. Some of the most effective, creative, and caring teachers are leaving the field every day, and if we don’t stop and recognize this issue—and do something about it, it is only going to get worse.
Losing teachers can have a significant effect on everything we know—from essential learning to affecting the global economy.
For example, according to The Learning Policy Institute, they stated that one study found replacing teachers who leave—can cost in today’s dollars as much as $20,000 per teacher in a large urban district—which produces a national price tag of $8.5 billion a year. Also, the demand for school principals is expected to rise up to 6% nationwide by the year 2022 due to a population increase. Training principals can cost school districts between $36,850 and $303,000, with typical urban school districts spending $75,000 per principal, according to the NASSP. And, the numbers for superintendents are even higher.
Our best teachers are leaving. All across the country, teachers are dealing with severe issues at scale.
Some of these concerns include:
- Teachers getting physically and verbally attacked by their students
- Lack of administrative support, communication, guidance, and assistance
- Low pay and overwhelming expectations
- Extreme stress levels due to dealing with consistent behavior issues
In all of my years of education, I have never seen teachers stressed out to the point of leaving the classroom. Many teachers (not all) claim to be depressed, anxious, and overwhelmed.
Although developing your own teachers in your school district may sound like a novel idea, some districts are already creating programs to turn former students into teachers right at home, right now.
Why is growing your own teachers a good idea?
There are many reasons school districts should consider partnering with universities to help former students become teachers in their school districts. By doing so, new teachers can complete their clinical hours, student-teaching, and get their foot in the door right away.
Here are five reasons to consider this idea:
There is no question that our lives have become busier. As the rise of the personality generation came to fruition, many people have forgotten the beauty of our surrounding community. Also, since technology has replaced a great deal of in-person human connection, the lack of relationship growth, involvement, and support continues to increase. When you develop your own students and bring them in as educators, this can create a more profound sense of community where all feel welcomed. Working with people you’ve known for years can create special bonds—the kind of friendship circles that help communities rise.
A positive culture is critical to the growth and success of every student, and keeping communities together can have a positive impact on generations to come. When students and teachers feel part of a community that supports and cares about them, everyone wins.
There is a great difference between compassion and empathy. To experience empathy, at least two people need to share the same experience. When you have teachers in your district who have been in the same place as your students, teachers who have gone through a particular education system can experience empathy to a closer degree than those who have not attended the same school.
When teachers, parents, and students can connect on the same level, the odds of students succeeding can skyrocket. Empathy says, “I’ve been there, and I hear and understand everything you’re saying and feeling.” When a teacher can empathize with his or her students, they can form trust, a sense of security, and students can feel how much teachers care about them.
Save Time And Money
It can take months or even years to find the right educator for your school district’s needs. If you hire within, you can get ahead of the hiring game immediately. Your district won’t have to go through endless resumes and countless interviews. You won’t have to hire a search firm.
Because you already know what your district needs, if you have former students who want to become teachers, you can save time on the HR side as well as with the many legs of the entire process. You already know your students well, and now you can help to develop their skills into the teachers you know they can become. Also, you’ll be saving thousands of dollars.
Reduce Teacher Turnover Rates
According to Brookings, the educator turnover rate was 23% in 1998, and it rose steadily to nearly 28% in 2008. However, the turnover rate increased in 2012 to 29% in 2016, the final year of their sample. Also, a study shared by Learning Policy Institute stated that turnover rates for teachers who work in unique positions such as special education and ESL are even higher.
Special education teachers have a 46% higher predicted turnover rate than that of their elementary teaching colleagues. If your school district hired within, you could probably reduce the odds of high teacher turnover rates.
Due to the sense of community and belonging, your chances of keeping a teacher can become more significant, and your students will do much better with the stability.
Room For Growth
As in any field, educators look for room for growth as well. When you help develop your own teachers, you are providing a pathway for growth from teacher to principal, and even toward superintendent.
This type of community can help to promote teachers if they choose to move into leadership positions. And, as time goes on, the cycle can positively repeat itself. More teachers can grow into leadership positions due to the community, connections, and professional relationships they have built over decades.
However, Don’t Close Doors
Although these ideas can significantly help with teacher depression, anxiety, and worry—it’s never a good idea to close doors to other candidates because they can bring in a tremendous amount of value. However, if we can bring a sense of community back, develop and grow our best educators, we might be able to help lower teacher attrition rates and raise the bar for youth—in a place where everyone can empathize with one another.
Do you grow your own teachers? If your school district practices this idea, I’d love to hear from you.