Four Smart Ways to Attract College Students to Teaching
In the United States only 24 percent of all new teachers come from the top third of the class, whereas in countries with the best school systems (Finland, Korea, Singapore), 100 percent of new teachers come from the top third. According to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, (PDF) the U.S. needs more great teachers, and especially more great math and science teachers, if we are going to remain economically competitive,
There are four important things we as a country and education sector are not doing enough of—that we could and should be doing—to attract more talented college students into the teaching profession.
First, the U.S. does not seriously invest in systematic recruitment for teachers. Look at how much money, manpower, and machinery the U.S. Army puts into recruitment—to the tune of almost $1 billion per year—and you get an idea what a serious, systematic effort looks like.
Second, we don't thoroughly understand our target audience. Do we know what college students already think about teaching and what they care about in a job? Unless you can answer the top six attributes your target audience values in a job and how teaching speaks to those dimensions, the answer is no. We tend to promote teaching in a unidimensional way (making a difference), which is relevant but not enough.
Third, and related to the second point, we don't try to correct misperceptions that are deterring today's students from choosing to enter the teaching perception. For instance, 75 percent of undergraduates surveyed underestimated teachers' salaries, and 43 percent did not rate teaching as "challenging in a stimulating way," according to McKinsey's report Closing the Talent Gap.
Fourth, we don't allow undergraduates to be in contact with exemplary teachers, so they can update their perceptions. We've got many true rockstars in the classroom—teachers who blow you away with their knowledge, skills, abilities, and contagious enthusiasm for their job. They are incredibly compelling role models and spokespeople for the profession, but they do not naturally come into contact with college students and it takes a bit of organizing to bridge this divide.
So how do we fix this? ElevatED, a new nonprofit I started this year, is working to revolutionize teacher talent by addressing all four of these gaps.
We spend a great deal of time talking to college students, particularly those majoring in science technology, engineering, and math fields, to understand their career values and perceptions of teaching. We communicate about teaching in a way that corrects misperceptions and conveys the true value proposition it has to offer. We identify talented, driven, passionate teachers to be "Ambassadors" of the profession and connect them with college students.
And we realize that experiences and exposures are the most powerful way to update college students' perceptions and get them excited about teaching. So we provide those in the form of an undergraduate elective seminar, an alternative spring break trip, a week long end-of-summer opportunity for undergrads to TA for and job shadow an exemplary teacher, career panels, and counseling. These opportunities are designed to fit into college students’ schedules and create a meaningful impression.
The level of talent going into the teaching profession is too important not to invest in making these connections and a systematic recruiting effort. In the next year, ElevatED will run these programs at USC and Stanford, reaching about 100 STEM majors. After that, we expand to other campuses. At every campus, we intend to double the share of STEM majors going into teaching within five years. That's how to create a talent revolution in education.
Zach Levine is founder of ElevatED and Director of Human Capital at Green Dot Public Schools
Click here to add creating a talent revolution by supporting ElevatED's Indiegogo campaign to your GOOD "to-do" list.
Male teacher sitting in classroom image via Shuttterstock
The Best (or Worst) Outbreak Movies to Watch While in Self-Imposed Quarantine If you’re going to be scared, be really scared A panicky film primer for the Ebola zombie pandemic sure to … oh my god, look out behind you!
Why Cutting Michael Sam Was a Mistake for the Dallas Cowboys The subversive NFL moment that never happened
7 Unlikely Male Feminists Lately feminism has been all about … men. Here are seven dudes who prove that gender equality really is for everyone.
The NFL’s Most Violent Man on How to Curb Football Injuries Jack Tatum’s modest proposal
Understanding Africa’s Ebola-Denying Communities While Americans panic over a tiny risk, some Africans in Ebola-stricken counties think the entire virus is make-believe.
Why Your American Wiener is Unimpressive We should all be envious of Iceland’s tasty, high-quality hot dogs
Stepping Inside a World of Private Violence A new documentary probes domestic violence in America via the gut-wrenching story of one survivor seeking justice.
Building Foundations for a Stronger Future Dr. Franciamore was able to channel her education into a jumping off point to change her world.
Can Kickstarter Keep It Real? An interview with Yancey Strickler The co-founder of Kickstarter on progress, patronage, and potato salad.
The Organization Creating Starry-Eyed Future Scientists Universe Awareness introduces kids ages four to 10 to the wonder of the cosmos.
The Multicultural Power of the Stoner ComedyFans of Cheech & Chong and Harold & Kumar never have to ask “dude, where’s my diversity?”
Y U No Show Consequences? A meme review of the dramedy Men, Women, and Children Where do we start with Jason Reitman’s new film? Let’s discuss in the parlance of the internet: memes.