Demonstrating to students teaching-related career paths.

Demonstrating to students teaching-related career paths.

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Demonstrating to students teaching-related career paths.

A small number of school districts are turning this challenge into an opportunity as schools all over the country struggle with a persistent teacher shortage that has been made worse by the pandemic. They are introducing career paths in teaching that start in high school to build their future workforce.

a model for making your own.

Teacher turnover in Durango, Colorado, has been exacerbated by the rural Rocky Mountain community’s high housing costs. A cutting-edge career education program with 14 pathways is offered by the district. With a new program that was launched this year in partnership with Fort Lewis College, which is located nearby, Superintendent Karen Cheser hopes to cultivate a diverse group of future teachers.

By enrolling in the future teacher career pathway, high school juniors and seniors receive dual college credit. Cheser says that the curriculum includes both classroom instruction and district-wide practicums “so students can apply what we’ve talked about in class.”

Demonstrating to students teaching-related career paths.

Students, for instance, observed a number of teachers in action, paying close attention to their community-building strategies, following a discussion about classroom community. What is effective? What isn’t? Their job is to think about what they see,” Cheser adds.

Students’ ability to learn in a variety of classroom settings also helps them choose a career path. Do they intend to teach elementary school? Do you instruct middle-school social studies? It’s possible that some students will decide that teaching isn’t their ideal career path. Before they go to college, that should be known, “Cheser acknowledges.

The superintendent is teaching the courses herself because she is so committed to the program. Other district leaders serve as guest experts on a variety of subjects, including family engagement and special education. Cheser presented a comparable program in her previous region in Stronghold Thomas, Kentucky. ” I’ve seen students complete a program like this, go to college, and then get hired by the district again. That is our objective,” she says.


Future teacher programs in the urban district of Tacoma, Washington, aim to not only increase interest in the teaching profession but also contribute to its diversification. Patrick Erwin, director of educator pathways for Tacoma Public Schools, elaborates, “We want to make sure we have a teaching force that reflects our student population.”

Two secondary schools in the region are right now offering Show 253, a program that Erwin created in organization with Pacific Lutheran College when he was a secondary school head. Along with the peer support that comes with being a part of a cohort, students who complete the program receive financial aid for college. Additionally, they can anticipate summer mentoring and student teaching in Tacoma schools. Erwin states, “They’ll be ready to be hired when they finish the program.”

Adults who are currently employed as paraprofessionals can also pursue a career path in Tacoma. While completing their undergraduate studies and obtaining a teaching certification at the University of Washington-Tacoma, they can continue to work part-time for the district.

New perspectives on education and learning

What piques students’ interest in teaching in schools that offer career pathways in high-interest fields like robotics, entrepreneurship, or filmmaking? It’s an opportunity for some students to make education more interesting for future generations.

Students are assisted by Superintendent Cheser in connecting teaching careers with their strengths when she is recruiting for the teaching pathway. Students in the eighth grade in Durango take an aptitude and interest test. That enables them to investigate career choices prior to entering high school. She also encourages current students to participate in shaping education’s future. She suggests reimagining the learning experience for the next generation of students and consider the impact you could have.

Students are already making an impact on the Teaching as a Profession pathway at Elizabethton High School in Tennessee. Students told teacher Alex Campbell that they wanted learning to be more engaging when he asked them about their vision for education. They created an “escape room” for students in the fifth grade to put their concepts and research on student engagement into practice. It covered 26 of their ELA, math, science, and social studies standards, according to Campbell, who is also the project-based learning coach at the school.

In another project, students used their literacy knowledge to help an actual audience by designing instruction for adults who had previously been incarcerated.

Although Elizabethton High School students do not receive college credit for their work-based learning or Teaching as a Profession courses, they do interact with education professors and students at nearby colleges. That provides them with access to role models and experts who can provide feedback on their projects, as well as an additional window into the profession.


Some districts have had to come up with creative ways to provide career paths into education, despite the obvious need to expand the pipeline of teachers. Cheser acknowledges that funding can be a barrier, particularly in states that allocate funds to more technical career paths. Her district’s partnership with Fort Lewis College, which she claims is well-known for its Native American student graduation rates, is helpful. Students from 30 tribes are served by the Durango district.

In order for districts to build a teacher pipeline that works, they need to do more than just get over logistical problems. Erwin asserts, “We need to promote the idea of teaching.” He searches for students “who are good with people and who are willing to be part of a team” when recruiting for the Teach 253 program in Tacoma. Additionally, they must possess an energy—they bring light from within.”

Teaching during the pandemic has undoubtedly been particularly stressful for educators, who have had to overcome unprecedented obstacles. Teachers, on the other hand, “need to demonstrate to students how much fun the job is.” Erwin, who started his own teaching career 30 years ago, says, “It’s exciting and rewarding.” Students must be shown that this can be a joyful experience by us.

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