- With the uncertainty of in-person instruction as a result of COVID-19 combined with pre-existing staffing shortages and budget cuts, districts will likely have to adjust teacher training, hiring and evaluation practices.
- A research brief recently released by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University and Results For America suggests schools can best navigate this in a partially or fully remote environment by considering the following:
- A recent study suggests teachers who practice online teaching and are virtually coached see significant improvements in their skills.
- New teachers whose student teaching experiences were interrupted by the pandemic will need and benefit from continuing support.
- Remote learning, which is expected to continue into fall for many districts, could provide districts with the flexibility to connect with teacher prep programs that are long-distance rather than being restricted to partnering with programs in their proximity.
- Deploying student teachers in classrooms to benefit from their mentor teachers could either positively impact — or, at worst, have no impact on — the classroom, students and mentor teacher.
- The brief suggests schools avoid low-quality or unsustained teacher mentoring programs and relying on past measures of teacher effectiveness, which might look different in an online environment.
The research brief warns that if student teaching experiences are constrained by the pandemic, districts could miss out on an opportunity to mold and evaluate teacher candidates. At the same time, student teachers could miss out on valuable experiences, which, combined with teacher preparation programs, could impact where candidates choose to accept their offer letter.
This, in turn, could impact staffing shortages districts are already facing.
According to predictions, the pandemic is not only going to cut budgets, but it will also likely push veteran teachers to retire early as districts consider layoffs.
While remote learning could offer districts the opportunity to connect prospective teachers with long-distance, high-quality teacher prep programs, as the report notes, another report released last week by New America suggests “grow your own” programs are becoming an increasingly popular strategy to address teacher shortages and increase retention.
Only three states do not have some type of GYO program or teacher training programs that recruit from within local communities, while 47 states and the District of Columbia do. And while 27 states have some type of GYO policy, only 18 fund them.
Local high school students, the brief suggests, could be a potential pool of candidates for districts looking to hire and retain.