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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is a Ph.D candidate at the University of South Florida, where he also works as a teaching assistant, supervising and teaching pre-service teachers. Steve holds a master's degree...
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The Answer to Teacher Recruitment Could Be…You

Teacher shortages and high-turnover rates have become commonly accepted. About two-fifths of teachers quit the profession within five years, according to data released by the Association of Teachers and Lectures (ATL). The main reason for quitting: heavy workloads.

            But my reason for writing this blog is not to lament over the teacher retention problem but rather focus on what we, as educators, can do to recruit more creative, intelligent, qualified individuals into the field. Teachers get into the job because they love teaching and learning and want to make a difference—reasons you would expect. But there’s another interesting reason why they join the ranks: they were inspired by a teacher themselves. This was the fourth reason listed out of the top five in the ATL survey. This point was driven home to when I recently asked pre-service teachers to reflect on why they entered the program. Almost everyone mentioned a teacher or two that inspired them to become a teacher. Even if the teacher was from the distant past, for instance, during the elementary school grades, they remember the teacher's passion, energy, caring, love, and commitment and that became a driving force for choosing to go into teaching.   

            This really highlights the incredible influence that teachers have on young people. It’s difficult to see when you’re teaching-the massive influence you have on your students-it’s subtle and often in the daily grind feels like you don’t have influence—but it’s there. Interestingly, the pre-service teachers didn’t describe how they were impressed with the knowledge of these inspiring teachers, their years of experience, or skillful instructional methods. Rather, they raved about how the teachers inspired them, spent extra time with them, donated clothes when they were in need, praised them, and encouraged them to pursue their own goals. It was the wonderful qualities of these teachers and the fact they went the extra mile that influenced the students.

            Yes, one of the answers to teacher recruitment might be you—and the example you set in the classroom. As you go about your teaching day, think about how you present yourself, the manner in which you speak to your students, the passion you show, the excitement for teaching you display, the extra time you spend with a child. You just may be recruiting another great teacher into the profession.