UW-Stout Summit Tackles Teacher Shortages
COVID-19 may exacerbate concern, and Gen-Z may provide the answer
How to attract and retain diverse teachers because of a growing shortage nationwide was the main topic of UW-Stout’s fifth annual Career and Technical Education Summit held recently.
At the virtual summit on June 23-24, David DeGuire – director of teacher education, professional development, and licensing at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction – noted that 40% of teachers leave the profession in their first five years. Because of COVID-19, DeGuire estimates one in five are not planning to return in the fall.
“We just don’t have enough teachers willing to teach in our schools,” he said. “We know we need (career and technical education) teachers.”
The future may be helped by a generation born from the late 1990s to the early 2010s by focusing on how teachers can positively change their community.
“Generation Z is really interested in making a difference and seeing a change,” DeGuire said. “We have to help them understand teaching is a great way to do that.”
Other ways to attract teachers may include connecting school district alumni who are interested in coming back and teaching, encouraging CTE instructors to recruit their own successor, looking at community members and veterans to fill the void, and creating opportunities for students to learn about a teaching career.
New teachers are more inclined to stay in the profession if they feel like they’re part of the district and are involved in student programs.
A panel of three UW-Stout alumni – Kathleen Thorn (business education, Colfax Middle School), Scott Sayles (business and marketing, Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota), and Andrew Kleiber (technology education, Winona High School in Minnesota) – talked about their experiences as CTE teachers.
They were joined by Tracie Nielson, a business and marketing teacher in the Kenosha School District.
Thorn, a first-year teacher this past school year, said her district has a mentor program that helps new teachers make suggestions or ask questions.
Sayles, who has taught about 3½ years, said new teachers are more inclined to stay in the profession if they feel like they’re part of the district and are involved in student programs. “Let them try new things and have a safety net if they do fall,” he said. “It makes new teachers feel valued.”
Kleiber encourages students who are excelling to teach other students. This helps them see teaching as a career option.
Thorn said she has requested teaching assistants to build relationships with students and show them that marketing and business education might be a great career to pursue.
Nielson decided to teach after working in the retail field. She took a nearly $20,000 pay cut but has found the career to be rewarding.
Keynote speaker Alex Manuel, executive director of the Washington State Professional Educator Standards Board, talked about educator shortage and educator diversity in the workforce. Encouraging paraeducators and those with certifications to become CTE educators can help fill the need. Immigrants with degrees from other countries are another potential pool of diverse teachers as well, she noted.
UW-Stout prepares CTE teachers for K-12 school districts through its undergraduate education degree in family and consumer sciences, marketing and business education and technology education. UW-Stout also offers a bachelor’s degree in career, technical education and training, preparing students to teach in post-high school settings such as community colleges, public and private technical colleges and industrial training programs.
The university’s Master of Science in career and technical education is for educators and industry professionals interested in gaining technical skills and advancing their careers. The Doctorate of Education in career and technical education prepares leaders who contribute to the vision, direction and administration of secondary or postsecondary educational programs.