Time Magazine – How to Recruit Better Teachers
The September 20, 2010 issue of Time Magazine has a couple of articles on education. One is entitled, “How to Recruit Better Teachers” by John Cloud. I don’t agree with everything in the article but, overall I think its balanced reporting. What fascinates me is what’s missing.
If we’re talking about recruiting better teachers, why don’t we, except for Phi Delta Kappa, recognize that the place to start recruiting is high school? We have complete and unfettered access to the next generation of great teachers in our high schools. All we need to do is to create programs that identify, support and mentor the best high school students so they can join our ranks in the future.
It’s simple. U.S. high schools identify their best teachers to teach a class about becoming an educator. Students would learn the latest research on effective teaching, whether they might become an elementary, secondary or postsecondary educator. The class would be engaging and hands-on–designed as a class that would attract the best students (we can do this as the Teach for America program demonstrates). It would factually present information on the advantages of becoming a teacher and the skills required. There would be particular attention to address areas of highest need, i.e., math and science teachers, and recruiting great young people from underrepresented populations so that the complexion of our teaching force more closely mirrors our students. There are three essential elements to making a program like this successful.
Funding – A high school teacher recruitment program must not cost U.S. high schools lots of money to implement. Fortunately, this issue has been addressed now that PDK’s Future Educators Association® (FEA) program has federal recognition. Federal Perkins dollars will cover most of the costs for a local high school class.
A Great Recruiter – The U.S. military identifies it best members to serve as recruiters. We need to do the same. The teacher of record must be terrific, someone who is caring, encouraging, personable, all the important traits that Americans associate with their best teachers (see this year’s PDK/Gallup poll results at pdkpoll.org). A place to start is to utilize teachers who have received national board certification.
Looking Ahead – The curriculum for this class would describe what teaching will look like in the future. Content will include new research on what constitutes great teaching including the work at the University of Michigan’s Teacher Education Initiative, or materials coming out of Barnett Berry’s Center for Teaching Quality. Using technology to extend the classroom would be another important component of the curriculum for a class on what it takes to become a great teacher.
At PDK, we’re implementing this program right now through FEA. It is a long-term solution, not a quick fix, but it’s exciting to develop the only national high school-based teacher recruitment initiative.
So hopefully, when I open Time Magazine three years from now and read an article on recruiting great teachers, nothing will be missing as the article will describe how FEA is one important component contributing to a stronger American teaching force.