“Say NO to distraction so you can say YES to your destiny.”Thema Davis
The sacrifices that are made in order to earn a teaching degree are many. Let’s start with the financial commitment. The average cost of a four-year bachelor’s degree in education is
$30,400-$78,400. This does not include the additional $8,545 for room and board per year.
The rigor of a teacher preparation program varies by program, but all include an extensive teacher internship component. Teacher interns gradually become the lead teacher with support from the teacher mentor. The weight of leading instruction while being responsible for the education of students becomes very real.
As a district recruiter, I engage hundreds of future teachers. I often open with a bold statement, “Each of you have made many sacrifices. As a result, every district should not be privy to the sacrifices you have made. Where you launch your career impacts your trajectory.” I realize that there is a propensity under “normal” circumstances to take the first job offered and launching a career during COVID can make this a much more common practice. However, when the dust settles the why needs to remain the same students. It has never been more important to have highly qualified teachers that stay.
I encourage future teachers and veteran’s alike to consider, THE BIG FIVE when deciding on where to serve:
Personal and Professional Development
Is the district balancing teacher support and development? Are there concrete initiatives in place that addresses teacher wellness along with instructional best-practices. Teacher turnover is real and a district addressing this concern is a WINNER!
Board Policies and District Practices
Policies influence every aspect of our lives and how we govern school districts. Take time to review Board Policies. I’d start with those that directly affect teachers and students. Get to know the Board. This is best done by binge-watching public board meetings. Maybe not a Netflix like binge but at least two. Teachers are advocates! The Board should foster and support this advocacy.
Like policies funding is critical to instructional resources, salaries, etc. The CFO and Board should demonstrate good stewardship with public funds. Are salary increases consistent even if consistency does not come from the state? Devices for all students is a great initiative. However, has funding been allocated for the infrastructure to support the technology? Is funding equitable and providing all students the resources to be successful and thrive.
These should be event and lived out loud from Central Office to every school in the district. Does the Mission/Vision/Values align with your own? It is very difficult to serve in any district/organization if there is misalignment here. Many districts claim to be student driven and understandably. Are the words and actions congruent?
Individual School Fit
Alignment should be seen in every school within the district. Is the schools’ strategic plan mirroring that of the district? If the district is emphasizing on literacy and supporting the science of reading, “Is the school literacy focused?” Hear directly from the teachers and staff via a school tour. This includes the custodial staff and cafeteria staff. Are they treated with respect? This speaks of a positive culture that is experienced by all. Don’t forget the PTA and student groups. Students and support staff will lead you closet to the truth.
My number one priority is recruiting for the teaching profession and then the district I serve in. The trajectory of every teacher is vital because it impacts the trajectory of every student. Stay in research, study, and data mode a little while longer it will payoff for you and your future students. Nothing more powerful for our mental wellbeing than serving (teaching) in a place that fits.