I am a traditional teacher. I majored in education and graduated with a degree in elementary education and then went on to get an advanced degree in curriculum, instruction, and technology. In my 15 years in education I have seen so many changes that I can hardly keep up with all of them. When I first began to teach in August of 2000 there was a huge shortage of teachers. So, to meet that need alternative certification programs began to pop up everywhere. This seemed to be a viable answer to the shortage of teachers because it gave professionals who had already began their careers in other fields the opportunity to teach. This trend also encouraged school districts to become apart of the solution by creating their own alternative certification programs that would meet the teacher shortage needs in their respective districts.
When I moved to Louisiana in 2009, I was introduced to Teach For America for the very first time. At the time I was working in a high poverty school in Baton Rouge and when I realized that Teach For America was placing young affluent Caucasian teachers in the “hood”. I was so scared for them because these TFA interns had no clue about what was in store for them. I can remember like it was yesterday when one of the TFA interns was on the playground and she was trying to get her class to line up so they could go inside. She was so frustrated because the students would not listen to her and line up that she began to cry. I felt so bad for her that I told my students to stand there while I lined her class up for her. I’m sure there are some success stories but my experience with Teach For America is mixed. I have met some really great TFA interns that were mature enough to handle working in a predominately minority school and others who have failed miserably.
Finding solutions for the teacher shortage is multifaceted, but I don’t think hiring teachers who have no training in education is not a good idea. Any teacher will tell you that college does not prepare you for what you will face teaching in a high poverty school, however it does prepare you for the basics like lesson planning and how to teach a lesson to children. When people are put in a classroom with very little or no training it is a recipe for disaster and places another burden on an already stressed school district to provide basic education training for these individuals.