TREND Spring 2020 - Page 11

RETENTION Tennessee is a unique state, not only because we have the greatest citizens, but because of our geography. We border eight states, which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage at times. When economic times are good, people want to relocate to our state. When economic times are difficult, it allows residents to move to a neighboring state and pursue more money in their chosen occupation. In education, we lose teachers to our border states regularly. Effective educator preparation remains critical to the future of education in Tennessee. When we lose teachers to other states, it hurts Tennessee. We must work on teacher retention and continue to offer suggestions on the front end. Also, we must work to have a pipeline of high-quality educators who can move into our classrooms. FOCUS AREAS The existing teacher shortage - especially in special education, math, and science, and in schools serving students of color, low-income students, and English learners - will likely only increase, based on the predicted increase in the school-going population in the future. Colleges of Education must also address how to serve Career & Technical Education (CTE). Areas such as business, agriculture, health, automotive, and mechatronics programs need high- quality teachers. We should also consider how to better build the skills of paraprofessionals who work alongside teachers in classrooms in critical roles. There is no way to ensure that all teachers are great before they begin teaching. However, we can make the effort to equip our educators with skills for a modern age. We cannot afford to lose great teacher candidates across our borders. We think it is imperative that the state continues to support districts in recruiting and better preparing future teachers, and the “Grow Your Own” partnership is a great new model. This may also necessitate some changes to teacher licensure. Change is on the horizon in how we prepare those who educate our children. Policymakers and stakeholders need to work together to make the necessary changes that benefit our students and ensure that quality educators enter and remain in the profession. Together we can make schools a better place for teachers to work and our students to learn. The Commissioner is correct: If you want to be an educator, you should be in Tennessee.