Four Smart Ways to Attract College Students to Teaching

Revolutionizing teacher talent It helps to correct misperceptions and convey the true value proposition being an educator has to offer.

In the United States only 24 percent of all new teachers come from the top third of the class, whereas in countries with the best school systems (Finland, Korea, Singapore), 100 percent of new teachers come from the top third. According to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, (PDF) the U.S. needs more great teachers, and especially more great math and science teachers, if we are going to remain economically competitive,

There are four important things we as a country and education sector are not doing enough of—that we could and should be doing—to attract more talented college students into the teaching profession.

First, the U.S. does not seriously invest in systematic recruitment for teachers. Look at how much money, manpower, and machinery the U.S. Army puts into recruitment—to the tune of almost $1 billion per year—and you get an idea what a serious, systematic effort looks like.

Second, we don't thoroughly understand our target audience. Do we know what college students already think about teaching and what they care about in a job? Unless you can answer the top six attributes your target audience values in a job and how teaching speaks to those dimensions, the answer is no. We tend to promote teaching in a unidimensional way (making a difference), which is relevant but not enough.

Third, and related to the second point, we don't try to correct misperceptions that are deterring today's students from choosing to enter the teaching perception. For instance, 75 percent of undergraduates surveyed underestimated teachers' salaries, and 43 percent did not rate teaching as "challenging in a stimulating way," according to McKinsey's report Closing the Talent Gap.

Fourth, we don't allow undergraduates to be in contact with exemplary teachers, so they can update their perceptions. We've got many true rockstars in the classroom—teachers who blow you away with their knowledge, skills, abilities, and contagious enthusiasm for their job. They are incredibly compelling role models and spokespeople for the profession, but they do not naturally come into contact with college students and it takes a bit of organizing to bridge this divide.

So how do we fix this? ElevatED, a new nonprofit I started this year, is working to revolutionize teacher talent by addressing all four of these gaps.

We spend a great deal of time talking to college students, particularly those majoring in science technology, engineering, and math fields, to understand their career values and perceptions of teaching. We communicate about teaching in a way that corrects misperceptions and conveys the true value proposition it has to offer. We identify talented, driven, passionate teachers to be "Ambassadors" of the profession and connect them with college students.

And we realize that experiences and exposures are the most powerful way to update college students' perceptions and get them excited about teaching. So we provide those in the form of an undergraduate elective seminar, an alternative spring break trip, a week long end-of-summer opportunity for undergrads to TA for and job shadow an exemplary teacher, career panels, and counseling. These opportunities are designed to fit into college students’ schedules and create a meaningful impression.

The level of talent going into the teaching profession is too important not to invest in making these connections and a systematic recruiting effort. In the next year, ElevatED will run these programs at USC and Stanford, reaching about 100 STEM majors. After that, we expand to other campuses. At every campus, we intend to double the share of STEM majors going into teaching within five years. That's how to create a talent revolution in education.

Zach Levine is founder of ElevatED and Director of Human Capital at Green Dot Public Schools

Click here to add creating a talent revolution by supporting ElevatED's Indiegogo campaign to your GOOD "to-do" list.

Male teacher sitting in classroom image via Shuttterstock


This article was produced in partnership with the United Nations to launch the biggest-ever global conversation on the role of cooperation in building the future we want.

When half of the world's population doesn't share the same opportunity or rights as the other half, the whole world suffers. Like a bird whose wings require equal strength to fly, humanity will never soar to its full potential until we achieve gender equality.

That's why the United Nations made one of its Sustainable Development Goals to "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls." That goal includes providing women and girls equal access to education and health care, as well as addressing gender-based discrimination and violence against women and girls.

While there is still much work to be done, history shows us that we are capable of making big leaps forward on this issue. Check out some of the milestones humanity has already reached on the path to true equality.

Historic Leaps Toward Gender Equality

1848 The Seneca Falls Convention in New York, organized by Elizabeth Lady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, is the first U.S. women's convention to discuss the oppression of women in sociopolitical, economic, and religious life.

1893 New Zealand becomes the first self-governing nation to grant national voting rights to women.

1903 Marie Curie becomes the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. She is also the only woman to win multiple Nobel Prizes, for Physics in 1903 and Chemistry in 1911.

1920 The 19th Amendment is passed in the U.S. giving women the right to vote in all 50 U.S. states.

1973 The U.S. Open becomes the first major sports tournament of its kind to offer equal pay to women, after tennis star Billie Jean King threatened to boycott.

1975 The first World Conference on Women is held in Mexico, where a 10-year World Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women is formed. The first International Women's Day is commemorated by the UN in the same year.

1979 The UN General Assembly adopts the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), also known as the "Women's Bill of Rights." It is the most comprehensive international document protecting the rights of women, and the second most ratified UN human rights treaty after the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

1980 Vigdis Finnbogadottir of Iceland becomes the first woman to be elected head of state in a national election.

1993 The UN General Assembly adopts the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, the first international instrument to explicitly define forms of violence against women and lay out a framework for global action.

2010 The UN General Assembly creates the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) to speed progress on meeting the needs of women and girls around the world.

2018 The UN and European Union join forces on the Spotlight Initiative, a global, multi-year initiative focused on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.

As the UN celebrates its 75th anniversary, it is redoubling its commitment to reach all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including gender equality. But it will take action and effort from everyone to ensure that women and girls are free from discrimination and violence. Learn more about what is being done to address gender equality and see how you can get involved here.

And join the global conversation about the role of international cooperation in building the future by taking the UN75 survey here.

Let's make sure we all have a say in the future we want to see.

via WFMZ / YouTube

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