Many prospective teachers are on edge about applying to schools during the COVID-19 epidemic. Their anxieties are mostly triggered by concerns about their safety and financial survival during the prolonged uncertainty of COVID-19. Likewise, districts that were already experiencing teacher shortages reaching crisis proportions are also experiencing a push and pull to recruit and retain educators now more than ever! Substitute teachers who are the pipeline to permanent teaching are now pursuing other options to make ends meet which leads districts to the situation of making the best of their current predicament with the teachers that they have.
A study conducted on understanding and tackling COVID-19 disruption to the teacher recruitment market found that there has been a reduction of more than 5,000 advertised posts in secondary schools alone which has resulted in the job market for teachers being paralleled to a game of musical chairs. For this reason, newly qualified teachers are struggling to find available positions because of the lack of vacancies. However, far fewer teachers feel motivated to make a career change this year according to teachertapp.co.uk. Teachers who are on the market for new opportunities dropped down to 9% (1 in 10) at the start of the lockdown caused by COVID-19. The reasons more commonly being (1) the lack of available jobs, (2) the feeling that staying put was the morally right thing to do, and (3) a much lower appetite for change. This blog will talk about the current atmosphere surrounding teacher recruitment and retention amidst the COVID-19 Epidemic.
The Pressure is On - Revisit, Revise, and Re-evaluate!
At a time where the only real constant is change, we have learned how much the responsiveness in our systems and mindsets are significant variables in our success. The district’s ability to recruit for an already understaffed workplace in addition to the responsibility of maintaining a profound list of operational contingencies has created huge difficulties in their overall mission to serve students.
According to a March 23 survey of district leaders, the Education Week Research Center found that 48 percent of superintendents and other school leadership members have made no decision yet as it pertains to recruitment at their prospective districts. At a Vancouver Public School in Ohio, one district leader reported that only hiring deemed “essential” is taking place due to COVID-19. However, for roles such as principles, assistant principals, as well as executive directors, hiring is being done using phone, video conferencing, and in-person while social distancing. In this case, all other hiring is on hold for these districts.
On the contrary, other districts that are well versed in the virtual interviewing platform are encouraging hiring to go on as planned. According to Education Week, Illinois Township High School District 27 has been practicing video interviewing technology for four years! It is even common practice for their district to get students involved in the hiring process by posing pre-recorded questions during the video interview. However, we all know this is not the case with most districts. The learning curve as it pertains to the use of virtual hiring platforms has had an impact on the way districts hire. Many districts who rely on substitutes, teachers from overseas, and retirees are experiencing the pressure of getting teachers in the classroom according to USA Today. However, substitutes have quit finding new opportunities and due to the dangers of COVID-19 teachers abroad, older educators, and well as teachers with underlying health conditions have exhibited higher turnover among already hard-to-staff positions at the beginning of the pandemic.
Also, today's current atmosphere surrounding teaching offers a virtual approach that most educators are not well versed in, and quite frankly, would rather not deal with. Virtual learning has directly challenged the knowledge, mindsets, and skills of the teacher workforce. This, in turn, makes the pool of candidates dwindle in an already struggling predicament. Given the new conditions, according to Education Elements, it is recommended that districts do the following in order to retain their teachers:
- Upskill - Enhance skills within existing competencies of functions (For example, trainingteachers on socially distanced seating arrangements, teaching and learning with PPE, or no-contact student collaboration.)
- Reskill - learn entirely new competencies or functions previously held by separate roles. (For example, all teachers will be required to develop skills in virtual instruction, social and emotional learning, and embrace a high level of ambiguity.)
Revisiting these competencies are essential to determine what to address in a new normal. For more information on how to develop a sense of belonging among the school atmosphere to increase teacher retention click here. More than ever exploring the candidate journey as it pertains to recruitment is essential to success in this climate as well to determine the impact and adjustments to recruitment. Following the Attract and Recruitment phases are highly recommended. These involve Candidate Awareness, Candidate Consideration, Candidate Application, and Candidate Selection. In the absence of in-person moments, Education Element even recommends a one-pager and day-in-the-life video to communicate what new team members may expect to eliminate candidate concerns during the hiring process. Allowing candidates to see what life is like in your district can increase your chances of creating a great group of candidates.
On the Bright Side
“The things we know, the things we know we don’t know, and the things we don’t know we don’t know”
The reality is that even though the future is unclear amidst COVID-19, the highs and lows of the pandemic are at least one less unknown. Now both teachers, and school district leaders have the opportunity to explore territory that can leave their districts better prepared and equipped for the future! Here are some of the known unknowns that school leaders can take note of according Education Elements;
- We don't know the impact that COVID-19 may have on our workforce, BUT we do know that our traditional teaching, staffing, and professional support models need to be revisited!
- We don't know if this may happen again, BUT we do know that we must revisit the skills and the extent to which we are ready and communicate them effectively!
- We don't know how long this will last, BUT we do know we must recruit virtually to fill existing demands.
We can also assume that candidates will be looking to be flexible and assess the different needs of the district. The tools and training needed may now weigh greater in school and district value proposition. Clearly identified needs on social media and beyond may increase the likelihood of teachers open to virtual teaching.
Also, as of June 15th, 2,350 applications for teachers had been made for teacher training courses in Wales. All in all, numbers applying for training to become a teacher have increased by 19% this year. With individuals not able to submit multiple applications, there is a likelihood that it could lead to an increase of trainees. Interestingly enough, Mr. Worth of the National Foundation of Educational Research reported that with many industries struggling during lockdown and fewer opportunities, people are being attracted to teaching as a career choice. This means more qualified teachers on the market! Teaching has become a front runner for future careers for recent college graduates. So where there are shortages of teachers on the market, we may encounter an influx of new, qualified teachers.
The Shift in the Workplace
Another bright side of this to take note of is that despite the teacher shortages, there isn't a talent shortage. With the right recruitment strategy, schools can attract some incredible talent especially with the sudden influx of candidates interested in training programs. The yet-to-be-discovered teaching talent is where most may least expect to find a surplus of educators.
To make adjustments to the recruitment strategy and flatten the recruitment dip, schools and districts should review this candidate journey and explore creative new ways to recruit teachers while revisiting their core competencies to retain current talent.
YES, Inc. Recruitment Season 2020-2021
To bring effective teacher candidates to our districts, Youth Empowerment Services, Inc. is effectively utilizing the mindset and ideas presented in this blog to persevere during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we are preparing to open our new recruitment campaign for our upcoming 2020-2021 Teacher Preparation Training and recruitment season (October 2020)! If you are a certified teacher who is interested in partaking in this process check out our website for details and upcoming opportunities!
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