Teaching: The New Job of Choice for Career Switchers?

Today’s Washington Post article describes how many employees who have chosen or been forced to find new jobs are seeking employment as teachers.   While some contend that these new teachers will be in over their head, they bring valuable job experience and subject matter expertise to the classroom.  In fact, these newly-minted educators can have a profound impact on education – especially if they focus on the following:

  •  Preparing students for the world of work:  Educators that were recently employed by corporate America have a valuable perpective on what employers look for in new hires.  These insights are valuable to students at every level of education, no matter what their career dreams are.  The earlier we start preparing our students with solid networking skills, an entrepreneurial spirit and an understanding of how to succeed in the world of work, the better.
  • Bringing professional development to the classroom: Many companies promote valuable leadership frameworks, 360 degree feedback reviews and strengths-based assessments for their employees.  Imagine the impact of teaching students to evaluate their actions based on the framework provided by Kouzes and Posner in The Leadership Challenge, or asking them to analyze a company based on the Good to Great model.  Students would certainly benefit a great deal by receiving regular feedback from their teachers and classmates on their attitude, their commitment to excellence and their leadership behavior.
  • A sense of humility: Following the economic shake-up of the past year, many individuals impacted by layoffs, bankruptcies and other setbacks can communicate a valuable message to students.  These new teachers can help students avoid a sense of entitlement, learn how to make themselves irreplaceable in their internships and extracurricular activities and encourage them to evaluate how to make their future employers stronger and more recession-proof.

Business Is Brisk for Teacher Training Alternatives

By Michael Alison Chandler

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 31, 2009

The high unemployment rate has provided an unexpected boon for the nation’s public schools: legions of career-switchers eager to become teachers.

Across the country, interest in teacher preparation programs geared toward job-changers is rising sharply. Applications to a national retraining program based in 20 cities rose 30 percent this year. Enrollment in a career-switcher program for teachers at Virginia’s community colleges increased by 20 percent. And a Prince George’s County resident teacher program increased enrollment by 40 percent.

In many places, there are more converts to teaching than there are jobs, except in hard-to-fill posts in science, math and special education classes. But the wave of applicants might ease teacher shortages expected to develop as 1.7 million baby boomers retire from the public schools during the next decade.

The newcomers come with a host of unknowns, including how much training they will need before they can handle a classroom full of rowdy or reluctant students and whether they are likely to stay in a profession that is struggling with low retention rates.

About one-third of new teachers graduate from 600 so-called alternative certification programs developed to bring people with no education background into classrooms. The programs vary widely, including two-year graduate degrees and online courses. President Obama (D) is proposing to devote more than $100 million in his 2010 budget to programs that recruit and train skilled mid-career professionals, particularly in poor schools and math and science classes.

Some alternative programs have proven to be “excellent recruitment engines,” said Sharon Robinson, president of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. But training must continue to be retooled, she said, so new teachers are not put “in the deep end of the pool” right away. “It’s not fair to them and certainly not fair to the students they encounter,” she said.

Career-changers are considered desirable because they bring maturity and outside experiences into classrooms. They also help solve a perennial problem in public education, particularly in math and science: Too few teachers have a solid grasp of the subject they teach.

Read more…

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