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Solving the Teacher Shortage: Recruiting Is Just One Piece of the Puzzle

Recruiting & Hiring

The Shortage Stats

District HR departments and school administrators across the country have all been seeing applicant pools shrink. The teacher shortage is a very real problem: 62% of districts surveyed have a problem finding enough applicants for open positions. Some struggle to find qualified candidates only in specific areas — namely special education and secondary math and science. Others have difficulty finding any applicants at all.

“The applicants just don’t exist. We can’t even get applicants for elementary ed positions.”
— Survey Respondent

With such severe shortages, how can districts find enough candidates — let alone the right candidates? Dale Fisher, the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources at Deerfield Public Schools District 109, shared some of his district’s strategies.

Deerfield’s Strategy: It’s Not Just About Recruiting

Dale is quick to point out that what he has done for Deerfield isn’t a magic bullet — their strategy has worked wonderfully for them, but there is simply no panacea for every district’s shortage. Here’s what has worked for his district.

#1: Expanding their recruitment efforts.

Finding more applicants means looking in more places, whether that’s K12JobSpot or other national job boards or professional networks. They advertise positions in education magazines, as well, to reach a broader audience of educators — especially teachers that engage with the latest news in education.

But just reaching out to applicant pools isn’t enough: Deerfield has to stand head and shoulders above other districts vying for qualified candidates. That’s why their recruiting efforts are centered on what Deerfield can offer its applicants.

 #2: Showing off what the district offers.

Like any employee, teachers want to work somewhere they are valued and given room to grow. There’s no way to create new applicants, but there are ways to attract existing applicants. So, Dale has focused on showing how Deerfield is the best place for educators to work.

He makes sure that the district’s extensive mentoring and Deerfield University program are highlighted in all of their recruiting efforts, and embedded throughout the hiring process. The Deerfield Public Schools website was completely overhauled, and the Employment Opportunities page now features videos about each school.

 #3: Making the hiring process easy.

Applicant don’t want to wade through a paper-based application process, or an unwieldy online system full of bugs. Deerfield Public Schools makes it easy to apply online with Frontline Recruiting & Hiring — which also helps them hire fantastic candidates quickly. They also began a new induction program for new hires to make them feel welcomed and valued.

What Next?

Deerfield Public Schools is managing the teacher shortage by expanding their strategy to be about more than recruiting: after all, that’s only a small piece of the puzzle, and only a small step in the employee’s tenure.

The causes of the teacher shortage are legion, and there’s more than one way to approach the problem. But it’s important that we all do our part by changing the story of what a career in education is like: we need to show that teaching is a viable (and rewarding) career.

Annie GrunwellAnnie Buttner

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.