The campaign will focus on targeted social media advertisements linking back to the Become a Teacher campaign website, which allows users to search open jobs, learn about financial support, explore education preparation programs, and more.
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is trying a new strategy. The department recently launched a campaign to recruit teachers from a place Americans spend more than 1,300 hours per year—social media.
The Become a Teacher campaign aims to promote careers in teaching, while also guiding potential educators to learn more about ways to enter the profession.
The plan comes as part of the Turning the Tide initiative; a strategic plan geared toward addressing the teacher shortage. Preparations for the launch began in January, when the Advisory Committee started working on the plan.
According to the VDOE: “The plan includes background on the shortage and provides recommendations for moving forward over the next three years.” It also aligns with Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Executive Directive Number 3. In last month’s directive, Youngkin called for the formation of a group to develop legislative proposals around teacher licensure in hopes of recruiting more out of state teachers, retired teachers, career switchers, military veterans, and other professionals for leading positions in Virginia classrooms.
The scope of Turning the Tide relies on a series of goals and strategies, as follows:
- Reduce barriers for qualified individuals to enter the profession
- Increase the number of candidates eligible to fill public school divisions’ hard-to-staff positions
- Strengthen strategies to recruit and retain a diverse, highly-qualified educator workforce
- Implement policies and practices to make careers in education more attractive and attainable
- Implement programs and practices to recruit, support, and retain highly-qualified educators with an emphasis on critical shortage areas
Become a Teacher
As for the Become a Teacher portion of Turning the Tide, the campaign will focus on targeted advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Those ads will link back to the Become a Teacher campaign website, which allows users to search open jobs, learn about financial support, explore education preparation programs, and more.
The urgency comes on the heels of two reports: the VDOE’s 2021 Annual Report on the Condition of Needs of Public Schools in Virginia and the Staffing and Vacancy “Build-a-Table” tool. While the first showed a total of 1,063 unfilled teaching positions for the 2019-20 school year, the latter revealed 2,594 teacher vacancies. However, the VDOE noted that the Staffing and Vacancy report used a data collection tool first implemented in 2021-22, which expanded the vacancy data from previous years.
Other reports, like a National Education Association (NEA) survey conducted from Jan. 14 to 24 looked into the reasons teachers were leaving the classroom. Burnout, pandemic stress, low pay, and unfilled positions leading to more work for remaining staff were some of the reasons educators listed.
However, the $1 million federal pandemic-funded Become a Teacher campaign seeks to garner interest of those curious about leading out in class.
Exploring The Website
After clicking onto the Become a Teacher website, individuals have an option to “start your journey.” Participants who follow that link will experience a quiz-like virtual encounter.
If you answer “yes” to being licensed to teach in another state, the prompt congratulates you with a “Great!” and displays options for those who already hold a valid out-of-state teaching license or hold an active national certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) or a nationally recognized certification program approved by the Virginia Board of Education.
If you answer “no,” you receive this message: “No problem. Let’s get you on the path to becoming a teacher.” If you have a college degree or a specialized technical credential, the quiz inquires about the age you’d be most interested in teaching—the person’s answers reveal the various credentials needed to work with specific grade levels.
Not all requirements are the same. For those interested in high school students, for example, prospective educators see: “Depending on the high school subject you’re interested in teaching, you may already qualify to start teaching.”
Those who select “no” to having a Bachelor’s degree or specialized technical credential are informed that they need one of those two things to be eligible for a teaching license. However, they are invited to “explore opportunities including becoming a substitute teacher or an instructional aid.”
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