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Is the teacher shortage a problem?

As detailed in part one and part two of this three-part blog series, the teacher shortage is real and it’s having a negative effect on students and schools. But there is good news; although the teacher shortage is a real problem, it is a problem with real solutions!

What are some teacher shortage solutions?

Principals and school staff are creative. They’ve worked together to try and give students the best learning opportunities possible. Schools have increased class sizes and recruited teachers from other communities and states. They’ve even staffed classes with long-term substitute and teachers out of field. And while these ideas have been of service, they aren’t solutions. They are bandaids for a problem that needs sutures. 

So, what’s the real teacher shortage solution? Preparing more teachers! Apart from traditional university programs which target college-aged students, it may seem like there is nothing else to offer. And with enrollment in these programs down, it could seem as if the shortage has no end in sight. However, that’s just not the case. Alternative teacher certification programs are growing as more and more adults pursue teaching as a second career.

What is alternative teacher certification?

Alternative paths to teacher certification include programs that allow people to earn their teaching certificate without returning to college for a traditional education degree. These programs have value because they allow people to enter the profession more quickly and affordably than traditional university programs. As an example, some states allow people to leverage their professional experience into certification. Think of a welder who decides to teach high school shop classes. A state may allow this welder to begin teaching shop now, so long as he or she takes a few courses about teaching skills. 

American Board’s online program is another example of alternative teacher certification. Using this program, locals can transition to a career in teaching, without going back to university or into debt. American Board’s program serves professionals looking to make a career change, stay-at-home parents reentering the work force, and Military Veterans and their spouses.

Importantly, American Board’s program requires that candidates already hold an undergraduate degree, but the degree can be in any subject. This allows locals to consider a second career without being held to the major they chose in college. Freedom and flexibility are the keys to a successful alternative certification program, and American Board offers both.

What’s next?

To solve the teacher shortage, everyone has a role to play.

First, locals who have considered teaching in the past should consider that now is the time to make their move! Teaching is a calling, so the decision shouldn’t be made on a whim. But if you think it is the career for you, do it! Your future students will thank you.

Secondly. principals should welcome career-changers into their schools. These people bring incredible real-world experience to the classroom and are able to make incredible connections within the subjects they teach. Principals who already employ American Board-trained teachers say they are well-prepared and stay with their local schools long term.

Lastly, state legislators and boards of education need to consider their teacher certification policies. Making it increasingly more difficult to become a teacher does no good with respect to the teacher shortage. Reducing burdensome red tape and increasing certification flexibility is the best way to get career changers to pursue teaching careers.

For more information on American Board’s alternative certification program—operating in 14 states—click here. To hear from locals who have already transitioned to teaching, click here.

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