In this post we will explore what happens when governments decide to bring untrained teachers into the classroom.
Several states are facing teacher shortages.
States are turning to unconventional ways of filling vacancies.
In many states across the U.S., there is a shortage of qualified teachers in various subject areas. Some states want to bring untrained individuals into the classroom to help address the issue. It may seem like a good idea in the short term, but it will have long-lasting effects on communities.
Education in America is at a Crossroads
There are many issues plaguing parents, educators, and schools. We often seem at odds with each other. However, everyone wants what’s best for the children.
This is an important moment in education. Depending on what we choose, we will either make America a leader in education, or education will falter. We need to make sure we prioritize education at all levels in order to ensure our children are protected.
Are There Benefits in Bringing Untrained Teachers to the Classroom?
Yes, one of the main benefits of bringing untrained teachers into the classroom is the potential to alleviate teacher shortages. Sometimes schools are in such a pinch they need any adult to in the classroom to ensure students are safe.
A Stop-Gap Solution
According to the Learning Policy Institute, the U.S. needs an additional 110,000 teachers yearly to keep up with population growth and teacher turnover. By bringing in untrained individuals, schools can quickly fill vacant teaching positions and ensure students have access to education.
Unique and Fresh Perspective
Additionally, untrained teachers may bring unique perspectives and experiences to the classroom. For example, individuals who have worked in the private sector have real-world experience that can benefit students. They may encourage the modernization of teaching processes, which as historically slow to change.
It will diversify the teaching profession, which often lacks racial and ethnic diversity.
Risks of Bringing Untrained Teachers into the Classroom
There are significant risks associated with bringing untrained teachers into the classroom. Teaching requires a deep understanding of subject matter, pedagogy, and classroom management.
I cover at least twice a week, every subject. One class was without a teacher for the entire year. Each period, every day, students had a different substitute teacher.
The department chair was in charge of creating lesson plans for the class but we didn’t always get the lesson plans. By the middle of the year, students were completely unable to sit and concentrate on anything.
Many teachers refused to cover the class at all. Even with my experience, the class was very difficult. The school tried several times to find a teacher/sub for the class but they all quit within the week.
If trained professionals had a hard time, I could only imagine how difficult it would be for a new or untrained educator.
If you have been reading the news lately, you will know that students are challenging post-covid. Bullying against staff and teachers is on the rise. It takes a lot of effort to foster a positive classroom environment where all students can learn effectively.
Of my 13 years of teaching, this year is the most challenging. I don’t think it is fair to untrained teachers. People go into teaching because they want to help others. It is disheartening to see a young teachers disillusioned before their third year.
Many of our Teach for America teachers left teaching after their contracts ended, and some left before. Additionally, untrained teachers may not have the same level of commitment to the profession as trained teachers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average teacher salary in the U.S. is $61,730.
In Los Angeles, there are many better-paying jobs for college graduates. Individuals not committed to teaching may see teaching as temporary rather than a long-term career, leading to high turnover and more instability.
Evidence on the Effectiveness of Untrained Teachers
There is limited research on the effectiveness of untrained teachers in the classroom. However, studies have found that teacher quality is essential for student achievement.
According to the National Council on Teacher Quality, highly effective teachers can increase student learning by as much as five months in a single school year.
I work at a high needs school and we talk about test scores and “closing the gap” at almost every meeting.
The Necessity For Teacher Preparation
Additionally, research has shown that teacher preparation programs are critical to developing effective teachers. According to a study by the Learning Policy Institute, teachers who complete high-quality preparation programs are more effective than those who do not.
These programs provide teachers with the knowledge and skills to teach diverse populations effectively.
Bringing untrained teachers into the classroom may seem like a quick solution to teacher shortages, but it comes with significant risks. While they may bring unique experiences and perspectives, they may be overwhelmed by the complex demands of teaching.
Furthermore, they may not have the same level of commitment to the profession as trained teachers. The most effective way to address teacher shortages is to invest in high-quality teacher preparation programs that equip teachers with the necessary knowledge and skills to teach this new generation of students.
Make the profession more accessible, more desirable, and more respected by the public. Then you will have people coming back and ready to work for our future.