August 29, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
Missouri State University
Indiana University Bloomington
The Edward R. Murrow College
Pennsylvania State University - Berks
Shawnee State University
University of Kentucky
Western Carolina University
Gwynedd Mercy University
William Carey University
Appalachian State University
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Pennsylvania State University
School of Education
Jennifer Steele: Based on the experiences of recent graduates of the M.Ed. Program in Education Policy and Leadership at American University and my previous experiences hiring individuals with master's degrees in education policy, the skills that often stand out are those in data collection and analysis, including survey data, interview data, and administrative data. In terms of data analytics software, graduates tell me that employers in education policy are largely seeking candidates with skills in Stata and Excel. For advanced statistical analysis and programming positions, skills in R or Python can also be an advantage. Data visualization and communication skills are also highly valued. Employers seek candidates who can use data to tell a compelling story through easy-to-understand graphs, well-designed slides, and clear writing accessible to many audiences.
Jennifer Steele: In the field of education policy and leadership, the ability to connect and collaborate with many stakeholders is vitally important. It is also critically important that education leaders and policy analysts advance equity, inclusivity, and anti-racism in schools. The longstanding legacy of racial inequity and exclusion has yielded vastly unequal outcomes in our education systems. It is impossible to right this wrong without understanding that history and how inequitable policies are still laced throughout our systems and must be dismantled.
Jennifer Steele: Graduates need the abilities:
-to frame questions that are answerable with data,
-to know where and how to locate the relevant data, and
-to understand how to analyze and explain the data to a broad array of stakeholders, including communities and families and senior leaders and policymakers.
Jennifer Steele: Just as analytic and legal skills command wage premia in the broader labor market, they are often associated with earnings advantages in the education policy and leadership market. Still, locating earnings data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics for careers in education policy and leadership can be challenging, as these careers are not traditional teaching or school principal jobs but are instead about managing education regulations, curriculum, staffing, budgets, measurement, etc. As such, it can be useful to examine the earnings and job description data on various management careers in the social, government, and non-profit arenas to get an idea of the work involved and the kinds of earnings that graduates can expect, depending on their level of experience and where they live.
Dr. Stephanie Hein: Adaptability, creativity, and flexibility will be essential to navigating the hospitality place. New graduates will need to possess strong financial and cost control skills to help their companies survive and thrive post-COVID. On the flip side, they will need to innovate and look for ways to help their organization do business in new ways.
Dr. Stephanie Hein: Yes, there are niches of opportunities, if you know where to look. In the current market, resorts with large outdoor spaces are realizing excellent occupancy percentages. Additionally, the limited-service and economy lodging segments are performing much better than full-service hotels right now. For those interested in food and beverage, there are restaurant concepts that are performing well. Most of the restaurant companies that are doing well have figured out how to maximize carryout or to-go business. Finally, in the event space, more demand will be needed for individuals who can help meeting planners effectively deliver engaging programming in a hybrid manner. Again, this is where creativity and innovation will be critical.
Dr. Stephanie Hein: Technology will play a significant role in how the hospitality industry rebounds, as a whole. COVID-19 forced many restaurants to invest in robust online ordering platforms to keep business going. Customers are now used to these online platforms, which make them unlikely to go away. In the resort and lodging segment, we will see more significant technology investment that helps reduce contact between employees and guests. The event space will likely see the most demand for technology as clients look for ways to offer high-quality, engaging programming in both on-site and virtual formats. Just think about all of the pieces of technology that go into an interactive virtual event. Finally, any technology that helps reduce labor and product costs will be welcomed. Initially, this type of technology may be adopted to provide contact-free experiences to guests. However, as the market improves, the same kind of technology can address future labor shortages.
Benjamin Robinson Ph.D.: I'd tell a graduate setting out on their career two things: one, attempt the impossible; two, be realistic. I mean that graduates should remember the big questions and the ideals of the college, think of society and its challenges, and not just accept the status quo. We badly need renewal and positive change in our world, and we are looking to new adults to lead that change.
At the same time, everyone has to live and take care of themselves, which requires pragmatism. For that, students need to remember critical thinking skills, understanding, and defending arguments, knowledge and negotiating conflicts, distinguishing right from wrong, connecting past and present, and envisioning the future. Those skills are what many jobs need, whether one is going into healthcare or management, into social media or social work.
Benjamin Robinson Ph.D.: In the next 3-5 years, social media and online content will continue to grow in importance. There will likely be more of a demand for machine learning and understanding how information flows on the internet and what it means. The linguistic and interpretation skills of a humanities major, such as German Studies, will be necessary.
Benjamin Robinson Ph.D.: The last data I have for IU mean starting salaries by College major had Germanic Studies as the 5th most lucrative major, earning $48,900. The world at large values the humanistic skills and temperaments that our grads bring to it.
Department of English and Education
Michael Wickert: In the coming years, teachers will need many of the same people skills and understanding of the curriculum they have always required. However, the Covid 19 shut down and move to remote learning has shown teachers need to be reasonably proficient with the hardware and software associated with teaching and learning. This includes the ability to use mobile technology. From what I have seen, teachers often need to teach their students how to use those programs, so it isn't merely that teachers can use the tech, but they also need to effectively teach their students and families how to use it well.
While working in this remote format, it is essential to find ways to balance academic rigor and expectations to be compassionate and helpful from a distance. We are not near our students, where we can observe body language and change in students' tone when they talk. This makes it challenging to recognize when students need personal attention that is such a critical component of teaching.
When we return to campus, it will be essential for teachers to understand how students integrate best into the new way of being on campus. We are undergoing a massive change in our society right now. Those changes (and divisions) will need to be addressed in ways that help students connect with the curriculum, rebuild social structures, and see school as a safe place to grow and catch up where necessary.
Michael Wickert: At this time, we see older teachers across the country leave the field for several reasons. One crucial cause is that some teachers have difficulty converting their in-person teaching styles and classrooms to an online environment. Other reasons are because of general changes in curriculum, teaching methodologies, and demands of the job. This is good news for new teachers because many schools are looking to reinvigorate their districts and schools with a new sense of enthusiasm, and newly-credentialed teachers can fulfill that need.
Even though there are openings in large cities, more affluent districts are more challenging to get into. Therefore, being open to working in high-needs areas such as bilingual education, special education, STEAM, and schools in low socio-economic regions will improve employment opportunities. Still, districts and charter schools in our cities are always looking for good teachers, so no one should be discouraged.
Also, rural areas in the United States need teachers. When students go away to college, they often move to cities or larger communities and decide to stay in those places, making it difficult for some schools and districts to find high-quality teachers for students in those areas. Both veteran and newly credentialed teachers interested in moving to rural areas will likely find that they can fill positions that desperately need to be filled. Any teacher considering such a move will need to check local credential requirements, since not all credentials are valid in a state outside of where it was issued. It might also be a good idea to visit the area and meet with people from the district and community to understand their needs better.
Michael Wickert: As we have seen every day for months, educational technology has become critical to teaching and learning. Even before moving to remote learning in March of this year, many teachers (k-16) were creating web-enhanced class activities through flipped classrooms, use of LMS such as Canvas, Blackboard, and Google Classroom. There are definite benefits to this because it allows us to take the classroom anywhere with an internet connection. That also means that many teachers are unable to draw a line between their professional and personal time.
Still, as we use Open Education Resources (OERs), digital libraries, take virtual field trips. And even work through fully or partially online school programs, the nature of teaching and learning is discovering new possibilities. The danger is when education software is used to replace teachers and good teaching. Of course, there are some excellent programs for learning, but when we take away the human element, students are given information and work, but it isn't the same as going to school because school is about so much more than doing classwork and taking tests. Ultimately, teaching is a very humanistic endeavor, and good education requires the right blend of both the science and art of teaching.
As we learn to use educational technology and platforms to democratize education, we must keep in mind that improving those platforms to reach all students is a must. The possibilities of using ed tech in positive ways are so exciting because our students today will improve that technology before we know it, and that can lead to exciting innovations that are mere science fiction today. Hopefully, those in charge of improving our educational technology do so with the intent of improving education for all, not just for those who can afford it.
Andrew Demshuk Ph.D.: I sense that the pandemic will not be suitable for the market, which was also challenging beforehand. Universities were already dealing with many shortfalls, and financial woes from the epidemic might freeze the market for some time to come.
Andrew Demshuk Ph.D.: Technology, such as Zoom, may remain more integral to the academic world after the pandemic. However, I hope that live interaction resumes with much force, since so many of the best scholarly exchanges happen in less formal settings, such as the "lunch before the conference panel," which can't happen in a Zoom setting in the same way.
Andrew Demshuk Ph.D.: I hope we have a greater demand for graduates and a more generous supply of tenure-track (rather than term or adjunct) jobs, but I am, unfortunately. skeptical that this will happen.
Sara Stout: We are seeing that students are not taking advantage of opportunities to grow in their career preparedness. The number of students that are in internships for credit is down from last fall, and we are not seeing students apply for the opportunities that we are posting. This is all due to Covid and the belief and hope that things will return to "normal" soon. However, the industry is moving forward, and our students could be falling behind. This is a national trend, and Murrow students are following right along.
I advise Murrow grads to take advantage of remote opportunities, seek career advising from our Professional Advisor-Angela Schweigert, update their LinkedIn, and take on projects that will add to their portfolio. Becoming job-ready, even now, is essential. It looks very different than it did a year ago.
Sara Stout: In Murrow, we help prepare students to go into many communication fields. News, Production, Journalism, Public Relations, Advertising, and Health Communication, and others. Understanding which technologies are being used outside of education is critical. In Murrow, we use Adobe software throughout all of our programs. News and Production students also use software that deals with editing and production. The key is to be able to learn new technologies and adapt to the work environment.
Sara Stout: Acquiring a Bachelors's degree is the foundational need in Communication. Starting salaries may be lower in some fields (in the 30,000 range), but in Strategic Communication, we see starting wages a little higher ($40,000 plus). It is a very competitive market, but Covid has slowed it down.
My quote would be:
"2020 and 2021 college grads in the field of Communication should keep moving forward to prepare for a new world of work. Being able to work remotely, sharpening writing skills, and the ability to communicate via different modes of technology is going to be key to finding a position right out of college."
Department of Strategic Partnerships & Workforce Development
Alexa Moore: I would say any experience relevant to the job you are currently applying for, and highlight not only tasks or responsibilities you completed in that role but also accomplishments. Making sure what you list also includes transferable skills that will be beneficial in the work that you will be doing.
Alexa Moore: I would recommend staying relevant in technology and computer software programs as most companies are always looking for these skills. For example, knowing basic Microsoft Office programs and Google Suites will be something that is always valued and needed. There are many software programs to consider, mainly depending on the individual's industry in building your skill sets. A great way to do this is by taking advantage of free or discounted courses being offered now because of the pandemic, but also LinkedIn Learning is a great way to build new skills or enhance your current skills at your own pace.
Alexa Moore: Technology is consistently advancing, but currently, there are several trends, including artificial intelligence, extended reality (virtual reality), and autonomous driving, and so much more. It would be hard for me to determine the most critical technology and prevalence in all fields as it will vary by industry and the work that you do, so that would need more research. I know that technology is not going anywhere, so staying relevant, overall, in technology within your industry, and in the world of the technology itself, will help keep you up to speed.
Michele Ramsey Ph.D.: It is essential for communication majors that they communicate what they learned in their majors and how it applies to the job they are seeking. The word "communication" is abstract. It's often also conflated "communications," which are majors linked more closely to mass media. So communication majors need to effectively and succinctly communicate what they've learned in their courses.
Our graduates regularly report that once they've explained that their major focused on human communication and areas such as organizational communication, interpersonal communication, conflict management, social influence, gender, intercultural communication, and other fundamental courses in our discipline, employers are very interested in hearing about what they've learned.
As my co-author and I noted in our book, Major Decisions: College, Career, and the Case for the Humanities, the skills learned in communication majors are often called "soft skills," but they're CORE skills and knowledge that are at the top of every list of most desired skills, according to employers. Some of the top ten skills are collaboration, interpersonal communication, written and verbal communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, diversity, inclusivity, equality, and leadership.
So what all of this means for students is that they need to find ways to effectively, clearly, and succinctly communicate how many of these core skills and knowledge they've garnered in their majors, and make those connections for employers very clear. Employers can teach most majors the basics of most jobs, but the areas that set communication graduates apart are not so easily led. Thus employers tend to be excited about the prospect of hiring graduates so far ahead of the curve.
Michele Ramsey Ph.D.: First, I'd encourage them to think carefully about taking a gap year because jobs are not plentiful right now and so I'm not sure they'd be able to garner too much valuable experience in that year. But I understand that, for some students, that choice gets made for them, so if they do have to take a gap year, I will encourage them to keep track of how they used their major in their work so that they can talk about that gap year as allowing them to practice what they've learned in the major and to put it to use.
Michele Ramsey Ph.D.: Aside from just the need to work in a variety of contexts, students are going to stand out if they are beyond proficient in things like Microsoft Suite. There's a difference between creating a PowerPoint presentation and creating an effective PowerPoint presentation. There's a difference between understanding the basics of Microsoft Word and creating mail merges in the program.
One of the things we learned in our research for the Major Decisions book was that the technology field is filled with humanities majors making great strides in that industry precisely because they understand the importance of the human side of what makes technology function well and succeed. These majors are what we call the "invisible partners" of technology, and thus, students interested in jobs in tech should consider learning something about programming and how technology functions, either through things like coding boot camps or minors in things like information science and technology.
Shawnee State University
School of Education
Dr. Kimberly Cassidy: Taking the pandemic into consideration, I would expect to see a greater need for teachers with significantly advanced computer/software/online skills. Someone tech-savvy will be in great demand, as well as a teacher who can be creative and keep students engaged in a virtual classroom setting. Flexibility will be critical in our ever-changing education environment.
Dr. Kimberly Cassidy: As an early childhood specialist, I will see technology that is more child-friendly and focuses on keeping them engaged in the virtual classroom setting. Software that allows the teacher and student to be more interactive will become a priority, and quality, developmentally appropriate online assessment tools that monitor progress will also become more prevalent.
Dr. Kimberly Cassidy: I foresee a growth in the market for graduates in this field. We are seeing a trend of our more mature teachers deciding to leave the profession due to the added demands of virtual classroom teaching. Considering that, we may have gaps in the grade bands and our available pool of candidates. For example, locally, we have a large population of early childhood educators with licensure in PreK-3, so we are looking for add-on certificates, licensures, and specialties to differentiate these graduates for them to be more marketable. The gap here is in 4th and 5th-grade teachers, so we have a 4th and 5th-grade add-on licensure program for those students with a Prek-3 license to help fill those grade gaps. That is a national issue and one that most universities have been addressing for quite some time. A trendy option now offered at many universities is the dual licensure program that gives a student both an early childhood license and a first childhood special education license. The student with this second license degree is prepared for any classroom and can be moved around in a school to meet the current school year's needs. These graduates are in high demand.
Douglas Green: The ability to write well has always been an advantage for our graduates. And I think it will be more critical than ever, now that so much more will happen in the virtual realm--from website copy, FB pages, emails, tweets, and texts, to scripts for video promotions. Analyzing such communications for their potential efficacy and effects, something akin to literary analysis, will also be necessary. Employer surveys have consistently rated such a facility with language and composition among their top ten skills.
Douglas Green: Whether creative writers or literature concentrators or a mix of both, English majors are well situated for jobs in a variety of fields that require writing. From relatively new roles, like that of the medical scribe, to traditional ones, like communication specialist, English majors have always found their way not just into teaching but into many areas of the business world. While their starting salaries can't rival those of novice engineers and financial analysts, their earnings are comparable in the long run. They are fast learners. And those who have combined their English major with other disciplines, ranging from psychology and sociology to the sciences, economics, and marketing, are particularly well prepared to enter and advance reasonably quickly. Their critical and writing skills are highly adaptable.
Douglas Green: As I implied in my first response, and as we hear almost daily in the news, working online is likely to be with us in significant ways well beyond the pandemic. So writing well--communicating in words, scripting videos, etc.--will matter more than ever. And being creative in these media will likely mean our English majors, many of whom also study graphic or web design, will be well situated to contribute and succeed in a wide variety of jobs and organizations.
University of Kentucky
Department of Early Childhood, Special Education and Counselor Education
Dr. Amy Spriggs Ph.D.: I think a principal would be a better person to ask this question - but I would say involvement with individuals with special needs, either in a volunteer or work capacity, would stand out. Many of our candidates have this experience in high school, but it would stand out if that experience carried over into college.
Dr. Amy Spriggs Ph.D.: Many of the K-12 students our candidates work with use technology to access the curriculum and their environment. As technology changes, this will become more sophisticated and (hopefully) more individualized. As far as instruction goes, I believe that we will see technologies, like Zoom or Google Meet, used even more to teach our students when there is bad weather, illness, or other issues that cause students not to be in school.
Dr. Amy Spriggs Ph.D.: I think the coronavirus pandemic has allowed some of our candidates to demonstrate resiliency. The candidates who graduate during this time will benefit from learning how to provide remote instruction while they were still learning, so I imagine they will be adaptable to changes in the future.
School of Education
Dr. Lenora Boehlert: I can't speak to all areas, but I believe the pandemic is providing opportunities for new leaders in terms of leadership positions. As experienced administrators decide to retire, their exit creates immediate vacancies for our graduates. Over the past 6-7 months, districts recruited new administrators who possess leadership talent and knowledge, and technology experience.
Dr. Lenora Boehlert: I believe the ability to deliver technology through seamless platforms will be essential. At this point, I am not sure we can even imagine the endless technology possibilities over the next 3-5 years. Teachers and leaders should work together to develop instructional delivery options that meet students and their communities' needs. However, ensuring all students, teachers, and other stakeholders have access to technology is essential. Students will continue to need to connect with teachers through some form of synchronous instruction, but future education may include more 1:1 student/teacher links through technology.
Perhaps we will see a change in the classroom structure as we know it. The factory model of education may evolve and adapt to accommodate societal changes.
Many teachers are juggling multiple computer screens with some students in class and others tuning in virtually. New administrators must be prepared to support teachers through the technology maze by providing ongoing professional development and a vision of how the technology will support student learning.
Suppose the future brings expanded options for student learning through technology, state, and local funding. In that case, it must be earmarked to upgrade technology to offer genuinely flexible, seamless instruction with training to use this technology effectively.
Dr. Lenora Boehlert: As I mentioned earlier, I am excited about the possibilities for our graduates. When the pandemic began, I wondered what the landscape would look like for new administrators. Within the first few months, our students were recruited for virtual interviews. They met with interview teams, superintendents, and boards of education through dropped calls and frozen screens, demonstrating the flexibility and sense of humor they would bring to the position. Official appointments occurred via Zoom with historical memories of a significant professional milestone.
Many districts hired our students for notable education directors, assistant principals, principals, directors of human resources, guidance, and other positions. As more administrators decide to retire, districts will face the challenging task of finding replacements for valued leaders. Our students will be ready to tackle the challenges. They may lack in leadership experience offset by their belief that they can support teachers and students in these unchartered pathways. Now is the time to consider leadership opportunities because, I believe, the options will be there for our graduates.
Dr. Patricia Bricker: Of course, education graduates need foundational knowledge and skills in planning, instruction, and assessment, and they must know the content they will teach. Graduates also need to be unrelenting advocates for their students, committed to culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogy, and put into action initiatives focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This past year has also highlighted the great need for our graduates to be adaptive, innovative problem solvers to succeed in our ever-changing world.
Dr. Patricia Bricker: There is a need for teachers across the United States. The US Department of Education has an online database of Teacher Shortage Areas that can help recent graduates identify potential areas to target as they look for jobs. Subject of exceptionally high need include special education, mathematics, science, and English as a Second Language.
(FYI, there is a lot of variability in data about the teacher shortage and which states are in the highest need. See this report for more info. https://bellwethereducation.org/sites/default/files/Nuance%20In%20The%20Noise_Bellwether.pdf
Dr. Patricia Bricker: The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of technology in many school systems, leading to a rapid online learning increase. The epidemic has also shown us the great need for equitable access to technology in our schools and communities and that we have a long way to reach this goal. In the next five years, I envision considerable effort focused on universal broadband internet access to allow increased and equitable access to online learning. I also anticipate increased and enhanced use of many technologies such as digital learning content, online learning management systems, cloud computing, mobile apps, game-based learning, augmented and virtual reality, coding and robotics, 3D printing, and a range of technology tools.
Deborah Schadler Ph.D.: Based on the ever-changing landscape, young graduates' skill sets will take on a new definition. There will continue to be the most significant emphasis on flexibility and problem-solving skills. The graduates will need to demonstrate in interviews, fieldwork, and practicums a high degree of executive functioning skills.
Deborah Schadler Ph.D.: Yes, nationally, there is a critical teacher shortage. Teaching jobs are on the upswing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, teaching positions are expected to continue to grow at a 12 percent rate through 2022. Granted, it is specific to geographical area and discipline, but if teachers do their "homework," they can tailor their curriculum to fit the need. Based on our students' experiences with recruiting, Florida, Maryland, and West Virginia are among the most aggressive recruiters. Georgia, Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado also appear in the literature as experiencing teacher shortages across the board.
Deborah Schadler Ph.D.: As a whole, education has done exceptionally well in implementing technology into the necessary compensations during the Pandemic. Cyber schools have made their mark in the field and are respected as an alternate delivery system. Therefore, technology will continue to be prominent in all aspects of education. The quality of Information availability and accuracy, accountability, and parts of the actual teaching process will continue to advance due to technology. However, the over-arching importance is to keep pace with ethical, humane, and best practices stemming from the research so that technology continues to be a tool used respectfully and continue to play a positive role in the learning process.
Department of Teaching and Leading
Judi Wilson: It's always good to demonstrate leadership. Employers also appreciate volunteer experience related to the job or "extra" hours completed in internships/practicums. Also, taking advantage of professional development opportunities is very helpful.
Judi Wilson: It's changing everything. Certainly, pre-service teachers need to be trained to teach face-to-face or virtually. Professional development opportunities will be virtual (requiring less travel). I think parent conferences will be offered almost along with IEP meetings, etc.
Judi Wilson: They will always remember this time in history. I believe they will be more resilient and flexible than in past generations.
Read Diket Ph.D.: Life experiences in the workplace, positions of responsibility while a student, demonstrated leadership, success as an artist in juried competitions, and stated goals for the future. The presentation of sections of resumes needs to be individually considered so that the candidate's qualifications are clearly and compellingly presented to particular potential employers.
Read Diket Ph.D.: Technology will become ever more critical in workplace practice. Moreover, students need to balance retrieval of quick information with more in-depth research into pithy matters. Reliance on social media immediacy will have to give way to reasoned arguments that provide both philosophical and factual support. And in the future, including the ability to listen to others as to their issues with real content, identity and values, and universal concerns. The visual transformation of those same concepts occurs through media, production distribution, and promotional approaches in the arts. Conceptualize and making the work or works is still primary to the arts, but getting pieces to intended audiences requires technological artistry. The pandemic has heightened awareness of technology as both a powerful workplace tool and as a disinformation channel.
Read Diket Ph.D.: Covid-19 hit at an incredibly impactful point in educational development for college-age students. This period plays heavily in developing values that can endure in adulthood. Other life situations such as marriage, family success, job success, and health mitigate and stress graduates. As a professor, I hope that university life provides a somewhat protected environment to gather a complement of intellectual tools, understanding of the past, knowledge of the discipline, and preparation of goals for the immediate future. There will be work for graduates who know how to think, are prepared to take reasonable risks, and are accountable for themselves. Hopefully, these same students will carry forth a sense of concern for others as a matter of practice.
Lisa Gross Ph.D.: Myth: A 4.0 G.P.A gets you the job.
The more experiences a candidate has working with children, the better. I'm not talking babysitting or nannying here. Principals like to see that candidates have worked with children in multiple settings (environments/settings), different age groups (developmental differences), diverse populations (ethnicity, race, gender, religion, and SES), and with children with a range of needs (AIG, EC, etc.). The NC Teaching Standards (specifically Standard II) indicate that NC teachers must establish a respectful environment for a diverse population of students and provide materials and lessons that support their growth as learners.
Lisa Gross Ph.D.: Myth: Remote (virtual) learning will end with the pandemic.
The NC Teaching Standards (Standard IV) focus on a teacher's ability to facilitate learning for their students. One key element of facilitation is the integration and utilization of technology to maximize the learning experience. Throughout this pandemic, we have seen that not all children/families have access to the technologies needed to be successful. We have observed novice and seasoned teachers struggle to move to a remote learning environment and grapple with their use of familiar, "go-to" instructional strategies in a Google Meets setting.
Technology is not going away; in fact, I would imagine schooling will never be the same after this. It's not about using technologies to support learning as much as navigating instruction through different virtual platforms. I'd wager a bet that significant curriculum publishers texts and materials are already ahead of us, marketing virtual programs that are "easy for teachers to use" and that have "proven success" in raising students' academic achievement. Learning environments will look much different in the next five years.
Lisa Gross Ph.D.: Myth: Current preservice teaching candidates will not be as prepared for teaching because of their limited teaching experiences.
This goes back to that first question, right? Sure there will be an impact on our graduates. That would be true of most graduates, regardless of degree programs. But for future teaching graduates, they will be transitioning into the profession when the range of academic knowledge and prerequisite skills of their students will be greater than the pre-Covid days. If public schools keep grade level arrangements, there will be children grouped without regard to access.
Some children have been homeschooled; some have had the resources and parent support to keep up with their teachers' expectations. And some students, probably more than some, haven't been able to attend school virtually and have been left behind. This has directly impacted our graduates in their preparation. They have seen their instructors struggle (myself included), have been placed in "virtual practicum" placements, and have observed how veteran teachers and their students must navigate learning without human contact.
Our candidates have prepared virtual lessons, videotaped their teaching for an invisible group of students, and reflected on their growth and development in the context of a pandemic. All of their experiences have uniquely prepared them. And they are ready, eager, and motivated to accept the challenges ahead because they have been challenged themselves.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
School of Education
Dr. Marty Young: I had the opportunity to work for the Department of Defense Education (DoDEA) system while in Germany and stateside as they still had base schools here at that time. Parents were military members who were employed and, for the most part, had a lot of interest in their children's educations. Additionally, seeing the world is quite a job incentive, along with field trips to exciting places.
I was able to take my sixth graders from Ramstein, Germany, to see the Maginot Line in France, and on another trip, we went to a castle to see the birds of prey fly and catch their food mid-air. We also visited a Roman gate and the ruins of a communal Roman bath in Trier. I recommend adventurous teachers to apply to this system. Suppose a teacher is hired stateside through their rigorous application process. In that case, he/she has officer privileges overseas, including access to the base medical system, shopping in base facilities, and joining the officer's club.
DoDEA pays to have the family and teacher moved to the country. Salaries are very high compared to the southern states. Finally, I owe this system as they provided me an educational leave at half-pay, which was the same as a Louisiana salary at the time. With this benefit, I was able to complete my doctoral studies at Georgia Southern University. In short, working for this system was the best teaching years I experienced.
Dr. Marty Young: I believe there will be an increased need for highly effective teachers who intentionally plan for and guide children's progress and learning. The current pandemic has shown that most children, at all ages, are "lost" when their teachers are not differentiating and monitoring instruction. I believe that future teacher candidates will be expected to speak Spanish and be proficient at "cutting edge" technology, including teaching their students online at least part of the time. Professors at progressive Colleges of Education, such as the time-honored one here at Northwestern State University in Louisiana, anticipate these changes and work to provide programs for their teacher candidates to meet the future expectations of employing school districts.
Dr. Marty Young: Teachers have the benefit of working pretty much anywhere, which allows them to stay home or venture forth! It was the ideal profession for me as I followed my military husband around the globe. If a teacher is interested in travel and research, Alaska might be an exciting place to be. I spent two years in Anchorage, and it was wondrous! Additionally, teaching salaries are very high there, especially if a teacher is willing to live in a remote northern village and teach at a Native Alaskan school. A friend taught at one of these village sites in the summers working with impoverished children struggling to read. She was paid more in the summer than she could earn in a school year in her home state. Of course, the research opportunities in such a setting are also attractive for those seeking higher education credentials.
Dr. Bernard Badiali Ph.D.: Curriculum and instruction in our college take in a wide variety of majors. If you are talking about BS degree graduates in teacher education, I would advise them to be hopeful about the job market. Many teachers have retired this year; some forced out by their school districts and others finding less satisfaction with the job. We already have a teacher shortage in the US; the pandemic will create even more significant deficiencies as teachers become more discouraged and exhausted from the demands of teaching on-line and managing the rest of their lives.
Despite what some people believe, teaching is a demanding and challenging profession. The pandemic has made it even more so. Still, the students with whom I work, have a desire to teach, especially in public schools. They are idealists who believe they can make a difference in the lives of children. Our graduates bring that desire to their studies and complement it with acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in the classroom.
There will always be jobs for young people determined to serve children, families, and society as a whole. Teaching is a calling, not just a vocation. There are 3.2 million teachers in the US; most of them came from college preparation programs. My advice, follow your dream; be persistent; thrive on your successes with children, and try not to let all of the stress eat you alive. Know in your heart that you are the lifeblood of a healthy democracy.
Dr. Bernard Badiali Ph.D.: Having spent the last 50 years in classrooms, I may not be the one to ask. I will say that no technology will ever eclipse the importance of the relationship teachers form with their students.
Dr. Bernard Badiali Ph.D.: This depends a lot on how we come out of the pandemic and who gets elected. If certification policies are relaxed to the point where anyone can teach, salaries will remain low and market-driven. But if states maintain high standards for teachers, then wages should strengthen.
Department of Education
Dr. Kimberly Creamer Ph.D.: Vast internship experience - for example, our juniors have a year-long internship before they then student teach during their senior year.
Dr. Kimberly Creamer Ph.D.: Augmentative technology has long impacted the field; however, now, all eyes are on technology's education role. Future teachers will need to balance using technology in purposeful, meaningful ways by developing students' social skills, collaboration skills, and critical thinking skills. While technology can be used to enhance these areas, it can also be detrimental to these areas when not used appropriately and purposefully in instruction.
Dr. Kimberly Creamer Ph.D.: With any significant event comes change and impact. It remains to be seen which "pieces" will impact future teachers in the field. For example, will this period result in more virtual learning, or will people react with a cry for "getting back to the classroom" and a need for socialization in the classroom (which can significantly impact our unique education population)? Another example will be health/safety measures and protocols. Special educators have long been held to a higher standard in this area in some ways -COVID now requires everyone to adhere to such standards.
I hope that, overall, the enduring impact of COVID on graduates, future teachers, and the field of education, in general, will be a renewed appreciation for educators, as many have had to take on the role of educator in their home for their children. The pandemic presents an opportunity to highlight the impact teachers and schooling has on our children's lives - missing it (or having to do it solely virtually) has brought that to light, I believe.