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Implementing a Bilingual Authorization Program

In Fall 2022, Whittier College’s Teacher Education program launched their online bilingual authorization program (BILA). In year 1, the program was initially fully asynchronous,...

Mastering Reading

Iñupiaq in Action

HomeOpEdLet Teachers Be the Influencers

Let Teachers Be the Influencers

A recent NEA survey found that 55% of all educators plan to leave the profession earlier than expected due to pandemic-related stress.
In just two years’ time, the US is expected to have about 200,000 fewer teachers than it needs. Of course, teacher pay needs to be substantially increased to help recruit and retain them, but to fully fill these vacancies, school leaders need to embrace other factors important to Gen Z—the digital natives who prioritize diversity, activism, and work/life balance.

The long-feared teacher shortage crisis has now arrived across the subject areas of early childhood education, language arts, mathematics, science, and special education, and although California is at the top of the list of ten states with teacher shortages, educators will be in short supply nationwide.

The only way to solve the teacher shortage is to attract young trainees to the profession from all sectors of the community who are representative of the student body they will be teaching. Gen Z is the most populous generation on earth, with more than one-third of the world’s population counting themselves Gen Zers. In the US, Gen Z constitutes more than a quarter of the population and is the most diverse generation in the nation’s history. According to a comprehensive survey by Deloitte, Gen Zers are drawn toward working in the tech industry, with 51% of those surveyed rating technology as a top industry in which to work. At the same time, they also are drawn to work that supports the greater good, such as education (41%) and health care (37%).

To help make education a more attractive career choice for all Gen Zers—especially young men, who have traditionally been difficult to recruit—the fun tech side of the job should be emphasized. At the same time, teachers have to be retooled with the latest developments in edtech and have access to ongoing training to keep their skills up to date.

Thanks to post-pandemic recovery funding, we have a unique opportunity to increase teacher salaries to an acceptable level, but while salary is the most important factor in deciding on a job, Gen Z values diversity and social activism more than previous generations and they want to work at organizations where the values align with their own, with 77% of respondents saying that it’s important.

Of course, we need more teacher preparation programs and a solution to the crippling student loan debts incurred by teachers, but first of all, we need to stimulate the demand to become teachers. Teachers have borne the brunt of much of the political dissatisfaction over the last decade, so a great deal of PR work has to be done to convince young people without children of the excitement, joy, and diversity in teaching. Only in education can there be the cultural, linguistic diversity mixed with constant, lifelong learning and rewarding sense of contribution that this young generation so desires.
Teaching ticks all the boxes for Gen Zers. On top of giving the next generation of educators the salaries and the respect they deserve, we have to make sure that they have the tools and autonomy to make it the most fun and rewarding career ever…

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