Fewer graduates are studying education and becoming credentialed teachers, leading to a teacher shortage, especially in underfunded districts. Linda Martin, a teacher and reading interventionist in Ft. Wayne, Ind., cites that “Every year there’s more accountability or more stuff that you have to do that takes away from your teaching time or your planning time,” leading to teacher burnout. Great teachers are the backbone of a successful school. If you’re feeling the dry spell, here are seven steps to take when you have no teacher applicants for your open positions.
1. Spread the word that you’re hiring!
It may seem obvious, but if people don’t know about your openings, they won’t apply. Reach out to schools with education programs, especially in nearby states, to see if some of their recent graduates are looking for work.
In Martin’s district, an article in the local newspaper about the 40 openings still available in August encouraged a number of applicants. It was the push that ultimately allowed her district to fill the majority of openings.
2. Check in with qualified substitutes in your district.
While substitute teachers are often not looking for a full-time teaching job, they can be invaluable in filling gaps until adequate coverage can be found. Sometimes, substitutes may even be open to taking a position for a semester or more while you work to expand your search.
3. Find out if any credentialed recent retirees are willing to come back to the classroom.
Martin cautions that generally, retirees have made their decision to step outside the classroom. But some may be willing to delay their retirement for a year or come out of retirement temporarily. While hiring back retired teachers is by no means a long-term solution, it can be an effective way to solve temporary staffing issues without sacrificing experience in the classroom.
4. See if any staff members are qualified for the post.
Ten years ago qualified teachers seemed to be everywhere, and credentialed teachers sometimes accepted non-teaching jobs in hopes that if a preferred classroom position became available, they would be able to fill it. Find out if you have any teachers on your staff working as aids, interventionists, or administrators. They might love the opportunity to transfer into the classroom.
5. Sweeten the deal.
Teacher John Tierney of Elko, Nev. says that his district never has teaching shortages largely because they offer a stronger compensation package than other districts and states in the area. In addition to paying better than the Dakotas and Montana, Tierney points out that budget cuts don’t affect the fact that Elko is close to major attractions, drawing applicants that are looking for access to a certain lifestyle in addition to compensation.
6. Consider partnering with an organization that places teachers.
While it may not be popular with your full teaching staff, if your school frequently suffers from a lack of applicants, partnering with one of several teacher placement programs like Teach For America can be a way to get energetic (though perhaps inexperienced) teachers into your classrooms. While Teach For America may be the biggest and best-known, there are several similar programs out there. Look for the one that will most benefit your school.
7. Change the job responsibilities.
Talk to your current staff about what could cause them and their colleagues to leave prematurely or with limited notice. You may find that the job isn’t sustainable. Use this vacancy to develop the concept and make the position more approachable.