Plan to recruit a diversity of future teachers into your teacher academy courses and related activities.
Begin With Assessment of Current Practices
Examine current practices that either promote or discourage a diverse group of high school students to take a teacher academy course or participate in related programs.
What are your goals?
- Does your school have any goals for recruitment of a diverse cohort of students into teacher academy courses or related future teacher clubs or activities?
- Does your school have any goals for recruitment of students interested in shortage areas of teaching in Washington State such as Early Childhood Education, Math, Science, Special Education and working with English Language Learners (ELL) or bilingual children and youth?
Who is participating in teacher academy courses or related activities?
- What are the current demographics of your school district and the local community?
- What are the current demographics of your school districts teaching force?
- What are the current demographics of your state and region?
- What are the current demographics of your existing teacher academy courses or related programs for future teachers (clubs or related activities)?
What practices or school policies are either supporting or acting as barriers to having your teacher academy course reflect the local, state and/or national diversity?
- Are any changes needed?
- Which student groups are over or under represented?
How are students currently recruited?
- Do strategies especially focus on recruiting a diverse cohort of students under represented in the current teaching force (ethnicity, gender, language, etc.)?
- Who is teaching your teacher academy course or facilitating future teacher clubs or other activities?
- Who on the school staff or in the local community is sought out by a diverse group of students for advice, mentoring and leadership? How can those persons become part of the recruitment efforts?
Why are current students participating or not participating in a teacher academy course?
- Have you conducted a focus group of diverse groups of students to learn why they have or have not participated in a teacher academy course?
- Have you asked teachers, guidance counselors, coaches and other adults involved with a diversity of students, who they think might be great candidates for exploring a career in teaching?
- Have you asked your CTE or other school advisory group to suggest recruitment strategies?
After gathering information, what systems issues may be contributing to a lack of students of color participating in a teacher academy course?
- Have you learned of scheduling issues, conflicting graduation requirements or personal responsibilities that may be preventing some students from enrolling?
- Who has the insight and the power to address these challenges at a school systems level (for example, scheduling field experiences at times that don’t conflict with required courses, giving academic credit to a CTE course, etc.)?
What resources are needed to meet goals?
Who is interested and able to support changes needed?
- Do teachers and school leaders participate in planning for change?
- Are a diversity of community members involved in a support or advisory capacity?
How will you measure the changes needed over time?
What are some proven recruitment strategies?
Peer to peer recruiting
- Where are the places and who are the people connected to a diverse group of students in your school?
- How are families encouraged to consider teaching as a future profession for their high school student?
Reaching out to other teachers in your school
- Personal and email contact asking for recommendations of students with teaching potential should include a reminder that the profession needs more male, diverse and alternative thinking teachers who connect well with others and have a passion to make a difference.
- Leverage staff meetings as space to inform and promote program efforts.
Community-based recruitment strategies
- Invite local newspapers to observe classes and field experiences and publish stories about the program.
- Have students submit short videos and articles to local publications and district websites.
- Get to know your local community based and professional organizations and share information on the program.
- Contact local tribal nations, community centers and social justice organizations to also raise awareness.
Sharing the ways the program positively engages equity and diversity in the curriculum
- Does your school host or participate in future teacher conferences?
- How does service learning or volunteer opportunities relate to tutoring or future teacher experiences?
- Do you advertise through district publications such as school/district newsletter?
- Are you using leadership groups such as the school board to advertise, inform and promote program efforts?
Sharing how students are supported to succeed in high school and earn scholarships and acceptance to college
- How does your high school make it popular to earn scholarships and receive recognition for leadership and community service?
- How do you find adults who have knowledge of a high school student’s disposition which fit the career of teaching and encourage them to apply for relevant college scholarships?
Schools Share Successful Recruitment Strategies
Renton School District
Teacher, coach or other staff or community recommendations: The RWT instructor/site coordinator corresponded with the RHS building teachers, counselors, Renton Teacher Academy Board President, and Phi Delta Kappa Presidents to identify students of all populations and groups that have demonstrated outstanding leadership and communication skills as well as a high interest in mathematics and sciences.
Current RWT student recommendations: The current cohort is annually challenged to do their own recruiting, with the incentive of helping students realize the value of a close-knit, like-minded cohort.
Professionals share their career path at an informational luncheon: Students who were identified as future teacher candidates and who showed interest in the program were invited to an informational luncheon. At the luncheon, students met and listened to guest speakers including pre-service teachers, master teachers, and the school’s principal. Each spoke about their career path and experiences in education. Students were told the expectations of the program. Identified students and their parents were sent detailed information about the RWT program.
Students apply for participation and feel it is a honor to be accepted: Students were treated like professionals applying for a job. Selections were made on candidate interest, grade-level, unique circumstances, and teacher recommendations. Not all applicants were accepted and every applicant was required to have a teacher recommendation. Families were invited to an informational dinner in the spring. Renton School District and CWU were available to answer questions from parents and students.
Student program schedule issues are problem solved: Program scheduling due to conflicts with other college preparatory courses and expanded recruitment activities are examples of changes in response to the evaluation of factors contributing to lower enrollment. The instructor/site coordinator partnered closely with school counselors to evaluate students’ record to determine if the yearlong course was a viable option, eliminating upfront any possible scheduling issues. Next, counselors scheduled students into the Renton Teacher Academy course in May in order to ensure the elimination of scheduling conflicts.
School-wide daily announcements and informational flyers: School announcements and flyers have proven to be the least effective recruitment strategies. Students state they don’t listen carefully enough to the announcements or read flyers to make an impact on their class scheduling and career pathway selections. The district web site is another source of information not often cited as the reason for enrollment.
In summary, Renton SD demonstrates the power of all staff (principals, counselors, teachers) understanding and being able to communicate the value as well as the specific characteristics of the RWT program to interested students. Accepted students reflect the demographics of this diverse high school. The RWT program is integrated completely into the School District Calendar and Technical Education Program and the Careers in Education processes. Perhaps because of this integration, RWT students are supported to understand this is not an “add-on” program but one that will support their overall chances of meeting high school credit and graduation requirements.
Burlington-Edison High School
Learning about the RWT class itself, through peer to peer word of mouth, has been the best recruitment strategy. Students learn from their peer’s description of their experiences that there are significant opportunities and advantages to becoming a member of the class. Every spring students from the class graduate with scholarship money to further their education. The past three years graduating seniors have earned increasing awards with 2013-2014 being the biggest year ever with over $400,000 earned. Younger students see and hear about the results and it is a powerful connection.
Opportunities to become involved and participate in community events, local, and regional conferences where they not only attend, but present ideas about changing communities through education and cultural awareness are also said to be very engaging by students. In addition students are aware that if they become part of the class, they will be required to prepare themselves to graduate and attend college. This takes the form of an embedded pre-college unit that occurs throughout the year including college visits, guest speakers, scholarship and college essay workshops, community information events, FAFSA workshops, and continued support from staff at the high school who support all of the students.
The RWT Pre-teaching Seminar is viewed as an honors course within the school. Students apply to participate in the course. To be accepted, they must be bilingual or interested in supporting bilingual/bicultural children and youth, have a strong desire to work in schools, and they must maintain a GPA of 2.5 during their tenure in the class. Most of the pre-teaching students participate for the entire school year and some participate for multiple years.
Mount Vernon High School
The MVHS Principal, MVHS CTE Director, a counselor, the School-Family Migrant Liaison, and Careers-in-Education teacher have worked to develop a recruiting plan at the high school.
We talked to students in our current Careers-in Ed program and the students and the advisor of our The Latino/a Educational Achievement Project (LEAP) club to gather feedback on changes we could make to attract more Hispanic students to the new RWT program. Based on that feedback we instituted changes in our current Careers-in-Education class to include offering a beginning and advanced section of the class and of offering a section of Careers-in-Ed for Latino/Latina students who are interested in learning more about their culture. We then visited our existing Careers-in-Ed class, AVID classrooms, and other classes to talk to prospective students about the program. Our counselor and our School-Family Migrant Liaison made personal contact with students to provide information. During our school’s pre-registration process we were able to double the number of students who were interested in taking the new Careers-in-Ed class and more than 50% of those students are Hispanic.
Tacoma Public Schools – High Schools
Immerse in a college experience to create a program “brand”: The Teach 253 summer academy is held on the campus of PLU in early August. Over 25 high school students, instructors from Mt. Tahoma and Lincoln High Schools, PLU faculty members, and support staff come to campus for two days, and engaged in a “college like” experience with seminars, campus tours, and interactions with teacher preparation students. As both high school instructors have noted, there is very quickly a “brand” that students at the high school discuss later, which allows the Teach 253 staff to recruit more effectively.
Trusting relationships at the center: A critical piece to recruiting students into the program was making use of other instructors and school counselors. For example, at Lincoln High School, Lisa Egenes worked closely with the head football coach to recruit athletes into the program – which was not typically a strong source of students in previous Careers in Education courses. The level of personal relationship between the students and their instructors is described by the program as very important and impacts their willingness and ability to track student progress, follow-up on specific issues, and be personal advocates.
Plans are in progress for more systemic systems of intersecting with the various mentoring programs that are present at the high schools (e.g., the College Success Foundation). A deeper working relationship with all partners, is thought to strengthen how students are tracked and mentored throughout their high school experience. By the end of the 2013-2014 academic year, the students were reported by program staff to have developed “a sense of solidarity and identification with the program.” The teachers at both high schools noted that as the year progressed, more and more students and teachers were asking questions about the program and how they could be involved.
The Tacoma SD Steering Committee writes in June, 2013:
To be honest, our knowledge of the obstacles and strategies that will be effective in recruiting underrepresented students is just developing. For example, one of the enlightening moments for the Steering Committee happened as a result of one of the table conversations at the PLU event. Ms. Patu, the teacher at Mt. Tahoma, mentioned that when she talks to underrepresented students at her school, they are often surprised by the rewards of teaching (e.g., salary, vacation days, etc.). When we stopped to think about it, their surprise is understandable. Many of the students we are targeting are coming from difficult situations where professional stability and monetary rewards are extremely limited.
Consequently, what Ms. Patu does in her recruiting efforts is to have honest conversations with students about what teaching has meant for her life and to try and dispel the negativity around the profession. This has helped the Steering Committee realize that the barriers to attracting students to this program contain many similarities that the entire profession has in developing its workforce. As we continue to push deeper into these issues over the coming months, it is our hope that we will be able to focus our efforts on attending to those specific issues that emerge. (Tacoma RWT Progress Report, June 2013).