What’s bigger than the Baby Boom and poised to take over the workforce? A new generation of teachers, more commonly known as the millennial generation.
Born between 1980 and 1996, this multi-tasking, technologically-inclined group will make up half of the U.S. workforce by 2020, and 75 percent by 2025. In education, those numbers could be even higher, as 1.6 million new teachers will be hired over the next several years as veteran educators retire.
But relatively few millennials choose teaching as a career — a trend that doesn’t look promising for school districts looking to continue hiring from deep applicant pools and keep student/teacher ratios low. It’s increasingly important that district and school leaders develop strategies targeted at recruiting, hiring and retaining millennial teachers.
“One of the national trends that we have been very conscious of, and bracing for, is that Baby Boomers are supposed to be leaving our profession in droves soon. Unfortunately the colleges and universities right now can’t keep up with the demand. That’s a challenge we are facing and will be facing over the next few years.” – Rebecca Partlow, Chief Personnel Officer, Rock Hill Schools
To hire more millennial teachers, you have to find them first. Ask yourself the following questions:
How are you reaching recent college graduates?
Millennials probably will not find a job from the classifieds section of the newspaper. Instead, recruit from this candidate pool by forming a close partnership with local colleges and teacher prep programs and engaging with education graduates online. Social media, online job boards (including those managed by universities’ Career Services departments) and your district website should all be actively updated and leveraged to bring in more applicants.
What are you doing to connect with students while they’re still in school to show them that teaching is a rewarding and viable career?
Education has become an unpopular major for undergraduate students, and this trend is unlikely to reverse on its own. You will need to actively network with local students while they’re still in school to talk up a teaching career with your district.
Amy Holcombe, Executive Director of Talent Development at Guilford County Schools, says:
“…We are working with the deans and the department chairs of the STEM departments — not the education department, but the STEM departments —We’re educating them about working in the field of education, giving them site-based experiences at our schools and allowing them to explore that as a career option. If they are interested in pursuing that as a career option, we have an in-house licensure program, an alt-cert program for non-teachers seeking to be teachers, and then we’re bringing those recent college graduates straight out of the universities that we partner with into the classrooms, and we’re helping them gain licensure.”
Once you’ve expanded your recruiting reach by finding more teacher candidates online, the work isn’t over. Take a look at your hiring process, too. Younger job-seekers expect a streamlined online hiring process, and may simply avoid applying to organizations that still rely on paper.
It should be easy for prospective teachers to find and apply to open positions through your school district’s website — otherwise, they may look elsewhere for a teaching job. Make sure that the hiring process is free of snags, unnecessary delays and paperwork, or you may find your hiring pipeline isn’t staying as full as you would like.
Retention is just as important — if not more important — than recruitment. You don’t want your school district to fall into an endlessly repeating cycle of “recruit, hire and replace.” Instead, focus your efforts on implementing a positive cycle of meaningful feedback and targeted professional learning. This should start with a comprehensive induction program to welcome them into their new school and mentoring to help them succeed in their new role. Continue to support your teachers’ development and provide rich learning experiences that help them grow their practice, and you’ll see lower turnover and higher employee satisfaction. With millennials in particular, you will need to ensure that the professional development you offer is targeted to their needs and directly applicable to their work.
Matthew Gutierrez, Assistant Superintendent of Employee Services at Plano ISD, says:
“Millennials want to grow quickly, and they want instant gratification… They want to grow and they want to become leaders, so what we have to do is keep them challenged and invest in teachers … because we want them to stay beyond two or three years.”
Recruit, hire, retain and develop: four steps to ensuring that your classrooms are staffed by exemplary teachers — millennial or otherwise. How are your schools taking action to find and keep teachers from Generation Y?
Annie is a writer and part of the award-winning content team at Frontline Education. She's passionate about learning, exploring data and sharing knowledge. Her specialties include substitute management, the K-12 staffing shortage, and best practices in human capital management.