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Teaching: A Buyer’s Market?

The vast majority of teachers are in the profession because they care about the personal and intellectual growth of young people.

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 28, 2017) — The forecast for new school teachers is currently cloudy, but it may but may brighten up considerably over the next few years. During the recession of 2008-2012, funding for education was constrained, many schools saw layoffs, and rapid changes took place in teacher preparation and curricular requirements. These conditions made for financially stressful and sometimes chaotic situations in P-12 education.

Current conditions in schools are markedly different, according to Robert Bangert-Drowns, dean of the School of Education. School finances have stabilized. Curricular and institutional reforms are being introduced at a more strategic pace and sequence. Information technologies are allowing teachers to work and communicate with students and their parents in new ways.

And a looming teacher shortage — a recent fact sheet from the New York State United Teachers estimates that 32 percent of their currently active members could retire within the next five years, requiring an influx of 10,000 to 18,000 new teachers per year — may turn careers in education into a buyer’s market.

“This is an opportune time for the best and the brightest college students to enter into education,” said Bangert-Drowns. “There are a host of job opportunities in schools — pre-K, childhood and adolescent classroom teachers, literacy specialists, special educators, school psychologists, curriculum specialists — and there’s hardly a more rewarding profession anywhere than one that stimulates the curiosity and empowerment of young people.”

New learning standards for students, however, are requiring new approaches to teaching. Students are expected to understand content more deeply, to engage in inquiry and collaboratively build knowledge from evidence. Teachers must increasingly lead students through educative experiences and the facilitation of their own learning rather than simply “tell” and “cover” content.

“Contemporary schools of education put a high premium on clinical experience in educator preparation programs,” said Christy Smith, assistant dean in the school. “Our School of Education, for example, routinely requires more hours of in-school practica than is required by regulations, and our teacher preparation takes place at the graduate level with students who have strong undergraduate backgrounds and the maturity to take on professional responsibilities.”

The result, said Smith, is that “We have a great record of job placement after graduation.”

New career opportunities for teachers are also emerging. The New York State’s Master Teacher Program, for instance, allows teachers with demonstrated success in the sciences and mathematics to gain access to special professional development opportunities. Teachers can seek National Board Certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Schools and school districts have also begun seeking educators who can take on leadership roles among the teacher corps as well as in administration.

Larger schools of education, such as UAlbany’s, now have comprehensive sets of courses, degrees, and programs delivered in accessible formats to assist educators at any point in their careers. Many University courses — even whole degree programs — can be completed online, on campus, or in a blended format. The School is ranked in the top 20 percent in the nation for graduate programs in education and in the top-10 for online programs in education.

“We have a Pathways Into Education Advisement Center to assist undergraduate students, recent graduates, and experienced teachers to obtain teacher and leader certification, extended certification, or professional growth,” said the center’s director, Heidi Audino.

“If you love to learn, if you care about the personal and intellectual growth of young people, if you enjoy being with people of diverse backgrounds, if you care about social justice for students and their families, and if you communicate and facilitate well, you have every chance of excelling as an educator.”

Dean Bangert-Drowns added, “The future of the nation and the globe is very much in the hands of the next generation of teachers.”

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.