Mythbusters: The U.S. Teacher Edition

Faye Snodgress is executive director of Kappa Delta Pi.

**On July 11-12, I had the privilege of participating in the Network of National State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) annual conference. The State Teachers of the Year became an affiliate chapter of KDP in 1990 and have been valued partners since that time, generously sharing their expertise and leadership with the KDP community. The conference provided many excellent learning opportunities, which I would like to share with you through a series of blog posts.**

Dr. Richard Ingersoll of the University of Pennsylvania is a highly respected, nationally recognized researcher. His research has been cited by President Clinton in a number of speeches and published in numerous major education reports.

His latest research on the changing face of the teaching force in the U.S. dispels many commonly held beliefs about the number and diversity of U.S. educators. For example, it is frequently said that we need more diversity in the teaching force so that it reflects the diversity in the classroom. According to his finding, the number of minority teachers has increased by 104%, versus a 38% growth in white teachers, between 1987 and 2012; however, minority teachers are frequently placed in high-risk schools and lack the necessary support and freedom to use instructional practices that work best in their classroom. So, they leave the profession at a higher rate than white teachers.

We also frequently hear about the need for more STEM teachers. Ingersoll’s data revealed a high number of math and science teachers in the U.S., but again, there is a great deal of turnover among these teachers.

Indeed, the flow out of the profession has sped up over the last 10 years, with 38.9% leaving to pursue a different job and/or career after just one year in the classroom.

There hasn’t been much hiring since the financial crisis of 2008, when the average tenure of a U.S. teacher was one year. In 2011-2012, the average had grown to five years. There is a growing percentage of alternatively certified teachers being hired, but currently, the biggest group are former teachers who are returning after being away from the profession for five years or more.

One concerning finding is what Ingersoll refers to as “the ballooning” of the number of U.S. teachers. There are nearly twice as many teachers as nurses, almost 4 million, making teachers the largest work force in the country. While the number of students has grown at 19.4%, the number of teachers has increased by a staggering 46.4%.

This disproportion growth in the number of teachers raises this question: How can the country afford to pay this swelling work force? According to Dr. Ingersoll, this ‘ballooning’ is unsustainable financially.

Some of these findings were surprising to me. Do they surprise you?

Help! I Don’t Have a Teaching Position Yet!

Sally Rushmore edits the New Teacher Advocate. She formerly taught secondary science and computer applications at a community college.

Is that the way you are feeling? You are not alone!

Did you know that most school districts hire the majority of their new teachers the last two weeks of July? Current teachers normally have until two weeks before the new school year begins to decide if they are returning or not (quitting teaching, retiring, taking another position). That opens a lot of positions within two weeks of the start of school. The other factor is that most districts do not have a handle on their enrollment by grade level and building until mid-July, so there is no way to know if they need two third grade teachers or three for XYZ Elementary or if they’ll need another English teacher at the high school.

There are some very important things you can be doing to be in the right place at the right time to be hired for these last minute positions. Dr. Renee Aitken, Dr. Melanie Shaw, and Dr. Karen Ferguson will be giving a webinar on Thursday, July 10, from 8−9:15 p.m. (EDT) to help you procure a teaching position in a PreK−12 setting—and what to do if you don’t get that position this August.  They will be covering:

  • Your résumé:  Crafting it for a specific position, checking it for errors, putting your best foot forward
  • Getting your foot in the door:  What to do after you apply
  • The interview process:  questions to ask, questions to avoid, how to present yourself
  • Other opportunities:  what do to if you don’t get into the classroom this August
  • Pursuing a teaching position through the year

They will also be hosting an asynchronous (ongoing) online chat in the Job Search Academy in KDP Global for the week following the webinar. Log in and ask your questions! There will also be personal résumé reviews available after the webinar for those who attend the webinar.

Register for the webinar even if you cannot attend live. You will receive a link to watch it any time for 30 days after the webinar.

1 Aitken

2 Ferguson3 Shaw




Dr. Aitken
has been working with teacher candidates for 14 years. She has held fulltime university positions working with teacher preparation education as an instructor, an NCATE committee member and the TEAC/CAEP Chair for Northcentral University.

Dr. Ferguson is the Assistant Dean of the School of Education at Northcentral University. She has experience in human resources, online training, and instructional design.

Dr. Shaw has over fifteen years of educational experience ranging from classroom and graduate level teaching to counseling and administration. She holds teaching certificates in online teaching, elementary education, and guidance counseling.

Digital Survival: Spare Yourself Social Media Drama

Eric Combs is an author and the program director for the Center for Teacher Effectiveness. He speaks throughout the U.S. and Canada on education reform and better classroom practices and is a regular contributor to the KDP webinar series. His webinar on social media use was one of KDP’s most popular to date. You can access the recorded webinar in the Job Search Academy in KDP Global (login required).   

combsAre you in your first few years in the classroom? Are you looking for a job this summer? If so, I hope you’ll join me for a Twitter chat June 24 from 1-1:30 p.m. (EDT) or June 25 from 8-8:30p.m. (EDT) to talk about how social media can help or hinder your professional career and job search.

Our focus will be useful ways to use social media to search for a job or bolster your professional profile. We might even have some tips to avoid to ensure your digital presence stays professional and appealing to your current and future employers.

My Twitter name is @madhobbit2, and during the chats, we’ll use the hashtag #KDPjobsearch. Make sure you start following my account and that hashtag for more details leading up to the event.

If you’ve never participated in a Twitter chat, here are some useful tools:

  • TweetChat and Nurph: Allows you to easily follow one Twitter conversation at a time,
  • Automatically adds your hashtag to all of your tweets, and
  • Bitly: Shortens long links to make the most out of your 140 characters.

You can read more about other Twitter chat tools in Social Media Today or Razor Social.

If you have any questions leading up to the chats, be sure to leave them in the comments here or by tweeting me using the hashtag.

I look forward to chatting with you soon!

My good days far outnumber my bad days

Zachery Durnell is a member of Phi Gamma Chapter at the University of Findlay.

Zachery Durnell--without MarineWhen I complete my teacher training program at The University of Findlay in Ohio, teaching will officially be my second career. Prior to this, I worked in fine arts administration in various settings from Florida to Massachusetts to New York.

Naturally, when you work for a not-for-profit organization, you are at the whims of the organization, the economy, and the donor base to support the organization and the organization to provide jobs to their employees. The lack of any security at all and the work in general was unsatisfying. Something needed to change, and an organization that was failing provided the impetus for that change.

I left Massachusetts and went back home to Ohio. My guidance counselor from junior high asked me to work with her on a musical. One day, a conversation commenced on my qualifications, the work that I was doing, and my interactions with students. She persuaded me to get a substitute’s license and get my feet wet with teaching. I found out that I really liked what I was doing and also found out how hard teaching is: the challenges, the disappointment, and the satisfaction. I have been subbing for almost four years and going to school at the same time. My good days far outnumber my bad days.

Teachers who have been at it a while think I am crazy for going into teaching with all of today’s requirements, evaluations, and observations. I sit back and think about the career I had and look at the career in teaching that I want, and do not want to go back.

I would rather have some certainty with a teaching job than none at all. Better benefits, and pay are also positive aspects of this career change. I could have gone back to school and into business or another field to make money. As a teacher I will make more hands down than what I did in fine arts administration. I will also have the satisfaction of have some impact on a future generation. To me that seems to be pretty important, powerful, and fulfilling.

Desperate for Teachers

Laura Stelsel is director of marketing and communications at Kappa Delta Pi.

A few weeks ago, fellow KDP staffer Sally and I were on a call with Doug Peden, the executive director of the American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE). We were in preliminary talks about how the AAEE could be a resource for KDP members via the Job Search Academy.  Doug said something that caught both of us off guard.

“HR directors in certain areas of the country are pretty desperate for teachers.”

Sally and I looked at each other in surprise. “We haven’t really been hearing that,” she said. “What we’ve been hearing is how difficult it is to find jobs around the country.”

“For some areas, that’s true,” he said. “But in a lot of growing or urban areas, the demand far outweighs the supply.”

What Doug proceeded to tell us is that candidates can find the most difficulty landing jobs when they limit their options: wanting to go back to their home town after graduation or stay in the city where they went to school. If candidates expand their horizons just a bit, perhaps looking to larger or more urban cities, the possibilities really grow.

And that’s how we landed on the Job Search Academy event for this month: a live chat with two HR and recruiting directors in areas where great teacher candidates, like KDP members, are in need. The pair will be taking questions and providing advice for landing jobs in their area and areas like theirs.

This Thursday, March 20, from 8-9 p.m. (EDT) join us for a live chat with:

  • Jack Kronser, HR Director from the Aurora Public Schools in Colorado, and
  • Tanisha Holland of the Recruitment Department of Human Resources Talent Acquisition and Management for Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia.

The chat will take place in the KDP Global Open Forum, but before the chat, Jack and Tanisha will be blogging in the Job Search Academy. Be sure to join the community for their tips and a transcript of the chat after it takes place.

Interested in participating? We’d like to provide the facilitators with a complete list of participants so they can reach out with more tips and info after the chat. Email to RSVP today!

Ever thought about teaching outside of the US?

Karen DeLawter is West Regional Chapter Coordinator at Kappa Delta Pi.

Karen's love of adventure began when she moved with her family to Vietnam at a young age .

Karen’s love of adventure began when she moved with her family to Vietnam at a young age .

Kappa Delta Pi, in partnership with the Chinese Education Connection, is now offering 41 one-year teaching positions for KDP members in schools in China.

So what is teaching in a foreign country like? Many years ago after graduating with a degree in Elementary Education I headed southward to teach in Bolivia, South America. Once the village was identified for my teaching assignment, reality set in. The villagers had to build my house and school, one mud hut structure, half being the school and the other a room for me live.

There was no set curriculum for me to follow and no books. What freedom, to be able to teach without restrictions! As I readied my plans for the very first day, I couldn’t wait to jump in and share my passion for learning. What a surprise for me when all but one student had never been to school at all and had no idea how to even hold a pencil. Plan B quickly kicked in. Exactly what skills did children need to have to get them ready to read and write? How I wished I had thought to pack some of my reference books, just for the assurance I was on the right track. Why hadn’t I thought of bringing markers and manipulatives? Both soon came to me in a care package, thanks to my mother who was a teacher.

In a very short time, the students and I set into a pattern of teaching and learning. Here I thought I came to share my vast knowledge, and before my eyes, the teacher became the student with them teaching me so many more valuable life lessons. Even though the students couldn’t read and write, their life skills surviving in a third world greatly surpassed my book knowledge.

Karen moved to Bolivia to teach internationally. This is her ID!

Karen moved to Bolivia to teach internationally. This is her ID!

Recently I had the opportunity to have a conversation with a group of Chinese principals who will be hiring KDP members in the next few weeks for teaching jobs in China. Because of my experience of teaching overseas I wanted to ask them a few questions. Here is what I found out:

  • You will be responsible for 16-20 different 40-minute classes a week. The content will be similar for all classes, with different levels and depth based on the grade.
  • You may be asked to share your best practices. Once a month there are teacher meetings. Teachers in your school after observing how the children interact with you will want to learn more about how you teach.
  • China does have unified standards for the country. The curriculum is different in each province. Test scores are very important, especially to parents. You will be improving the English language skills of students and broadening their understanding of different cultures. The principals did not think it was necessary to bring lesson plans or your own resources. *Please, take my advice and pack those one or two reference books. These will be invaluable and worth the space they take up in your suitcase. Don’t forget all of the resources available to you at your fingertips on the KDP website, too.
  • Depending on the job assignment, you may have a room at the dorm of the school.
  • In many cities across China, there are competitions, recognition and awards for foreign teachers.
  • The Chinese Government has taken steps to ensure foreign teachers are supported in the area of academics and culturally. Colleagues and parents will share their culture with you. You will also find people willing to assist you with travel plans and visas and getting acclimated to a new country.

The deadline application is March 15 deadline. If chosen, in early August, you receive cultural training prior to the start of school. Find additional job specifics and requirements here.

Karen's love of adventure began when she moved with her family to Vietnam at a young age .

For me, it is like it was yesterday when I went out to change the world and what happened instead was the world changed me. There isn’t enough money in the world to pay for this kind of experience. Life changing, heart changing, and world changing one student and (one teacher) at a time.

Are you ready for the adventure of your life?