By TJ Fennell, Jr. Digital Education Consultant, MindShare Learning
“More New Teachers are Unemployed” reads one of the most recent headlines in the Ontario College of Teacher’s monthly publication, Professionally Speaking. If you’re one of those new teachers, this is not exactly a shocker. While the unemployment and underemployment rate is upwards to 70%, we need to keep focused and committed on our aspiration to be educators. This has sparked some thought as to what we should be doing in the meantime as unemployed teachers. How do we, as new teachers, continue to stay in the loop of 21st century learning & technology if we are not actively involved in a classroom?
- Everyone is going through the front door and it is jammed. Find a window. You need to differentiate yourself to stand out from the next guy. It’s competitive, folks. By developing your tech savvy skills, networking at conferences, creating face-to-face connections (it’s okay if this begins as a virtual connection) and exploring career options working with publishers or EdTech solution providers will all help to give you an edge that beats the “ordinary” competition.
- If you’re not on Twitter, get on it. Follow me @teacherteej. Check out who I am following and start following them. This list is comprised of professionals, teacher candidates, teacher resource websites/organizations and industry. Twitter provides a great PLN (personal learning network) where you can connect with other educators, learn about current uses of technology in the classroom, and even keep up to date with school board activity as many have Twitter accounts.
- Keep reading. Okay, so you have university behind you, but that doesn’t mean you stop educating yourself. As educational technology becomes more popular, more people are writing about it. You don’t need to march off to the bookstore today, but you can start with checking out blogs from current educators and researchers. Twitter can connect you with these blogs. Our monthly MindShare Learning Report highlights K-12 headlines, events, and news. Be sure it’s on your reading list.
- Stay passionate. Talking with people who have been there and listening to their success stories creates a positive outlook. Collaborating with people who understand your frustrations can be therapeutic. Find a mentor, stay involved in a school community by volunteering, get engaged, take additional qualifications, apply to grad school – whatever it takes to keep you motivated and just as passionate as the day you envisioned yourself as a teacher – do it.
- Tinker. Technology changes too much to take a tech break. Just because you’re not in a classroom with a SMART Board to play with anymore, that doesn’t mean the curiosity should come to a halt. Get online and play around with new apps, html-5, games, and websites that facilitate learning. Collaborate with other educators to stay in the loop as to what is new and engaging and then try it out for yourself.
This is not an easy time for new teachers. It is a time of frustration and disappointment. You have spent countless hours working towards something you are passionate about, and left in a position where you cannot practically express your talent and love for teaching. I am in this boat with you. Hang in there. Continue to educate yourself, remain committed to what you truly want in life, stay closely connected with the people you have met along the journey. Tweet me @teacherteej and let’s chat.