There are several reasons why there aren't enough teachers out there. There aren't enough students majoring in education, especially in hard to fill spots. Salaries for teachers, especially in math and science positions aren't as competitive as careers in the private sector. Politicians and pundits belittle the education profession to the point that everyone believes that public education is the worst possible career you could select. The media promotes the narrative that public education is failing. There are a host of other reasons that I could list, but we as educators must ask ourselves this question.
Why are we not intentionally developing and recruiting tomorrow's teachers while they are still our students today?
Recruiting teachers from college when they're about to graduate is too late. We must start sooner. Most kids select their major in their first or second year and most don't change from it; therefore recruiting college freshmen and sophomores is also too late to help the profession. We must start sooner.
There's No Time like the Present
What's crazy is that education is the only profession in the world that has first dibs on recruiting kids into the profession. No other career in the world has the opportunity or the advantage in not only promoting the profession but actually convincing kids at a young age to join the profession before they graduate. Imagine how much bigger the pool of qualified applicants would be if every teacher in America identified one or two kids per year and encouraged them to pursue a career in education.
When I was in high school, I vividly remember one of my teachers preaching to the class about how being a teacher was absolutely the worst profession in the world. This teacher went on to tell us that we would be crazy if we pursued a degree in education and that we should avoid it at all costs. While the sermon made me wonder why this individual was even teaching in the first place, I wonder now how many kids changed their minds about teaching as a profession thanks to him.
If you think about it, kids are being persuaded to pursue or avoid the education profession altogether. Even if we never say a word about our profession, it is what we do for kids each and every day that gives them a positive or negative impression of the profession as a whole. If we believe in the power of education to maintain our free society, we must do whatever it takes to promote education in both our words and actions and make a constant effort to recruit the very best students into the profession before they graduate from high school. Whether you are a kindergarten teacher, a high school calculus teacher or somewhere in between, you should recruit and develop future teachers. The future of public education is sitting in our classrooms right now, and we must nurture our future from the moment our students enter our classrooms. If we could all commit to our profession in this way, finding the very best teachers for our schools would no longer be a wish. It would be the reality.