Teaching and Learning Happens Everywhere

Shalaunda Reeves, PhD

July 5, 2023

It is important for teacher preparation programs to train and prepare future teachers for the K-12 classroom. However, there continues to be a decline of individuals, a nearly 29-percent decrease, who complete a teacher preparation program. What then, should these programs do in response to this shift in enrollment and ultimately tuition dollars? Creating a significant positive perspective, regarding entering the education profession as a K-12 teacher is a task that will not be accomplished overnight, so what do these programs do in the meantime?

They innovate!

A quick google search will reveal the plethora of alternative career opportunities and/or companies interested in hiring former teachers. Yet, it is very uncommon to see recruitment fairs or internship opportunities for students within teacher preparation programs for non-academic jobs. It’s interesting that many industries see the value in the skills of a teacher, yet the programs that train them do not market themselves with this perspective in mind. For instance, teacher preparation programs train pre-service teachers how to design interesting and engaging curriculum materials for various learners. With the vast amount of digital learning tools made available to kids, the assumption would be that teacher preparation programs would be a commonplace for firms that develop these tools to recruit and hire. Especially if the purpose of the learning tool is to be implemented within a traditional classroom. Furthermore, pre-service teachers are also trained in the systematic collection, analysis, and application of many forms of data from a variety of sources to optimize results. Yet, there lacks a connection between the skills students in teacher preparation programs are equipped with and non-academic career opportunities.

I am in no way suggesting that teacher preparation programs move away from properly training a much needed K-12 workforce. I am merely suggesting that they expand their definition of what constitutes a teacher and subsequently the role the program plays in developing the modern day workforce, because teaching and learning happens everywhere.