While the education system of the country has its own set of challenges, several innovative programmes are also surfacing to tackle issues at local level, for example the ‘Grow Your Own’ teacher programme. Many school districts around the nation are experiencing teacher shortages, notably in special education, foreign languages, science, and mathematics. Simultaneously, the present teaching force – which is overpoweringly white in most regions – does not always match the student body’s demographics.
Many states and districts have turned to a specific type of recruitment to overcome labour shortages and enhance diversity in the workforce: “grow your own” programmes.
Understanding Grow Your Own (GYO) programmes
GYO programmes recruit community members to instruct in local pre-K-12 schools through collaborations between school districts, community-based groups, and colleges. While some programmes assist those who are already in the industry, such as paraeducators or substitute teachers, in obtaining teaching licence, the majority are designed to introduce high school students to the field.
Participants in these programmes receive comprehensive support services like as mentoring, culturally sensitive pedagogy training, and, in some jurisdictions, financial assistance to cover the costs of teacher preparation.
Some GYO programmes aim to expose high school students to the teaching profession. Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, for example, developed the ‘Teachers for Tomorrow’ programme for high school juniors and seniors passionate about education.
With the exception of North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming, nearly every state has at least one GYO programme, but just around 15 states give direct financing for GYO programme development, implementation, and sustainability, as per a report in USnews.com.
How can it impact students?
Teacher demographics are more likely to resemble student demographics when teachers are recruited from within local areas rather than from neighbouring districts or states. Two-thirds of the 250 teacher candidates in Grow Your Own Illinois, for example, are persons of colour. Students can see themselves in their professors if and when they have a diversified teaching staff.
As the expense of college climbs, many instructors are forced to take on significant debt in order to obtain a degree. Candidates in states like Illinois, Minnesota, and Tennessee, on the other hand, may be eligible for financial assistance through their GYO programmes.
GYO can aid in filling classroom gaps
Experts argue that school districts frequently struggle to locate skilled special education and English as a second language instructor. However, several states are looking to address such gaps via GYO programmes.
Each Grow Your Own programme has its own recruitment strategy, with many schools depending on teachers and guidance counsellors to find kids who have demonstrated an interest in teaching. Typically, information on GYO activities can be found on school district or state websites.
“At Grow Your Own, we support racially diverse individuals who have a desire to become teachers in their own communities. Our goal is to return teachers back home where they can be leaders inside and outside classrooms. In large cities, rural areas, and everywhere in between, students deserve teachers with whom they can identify, connect, and excel,” reads the message on the landing page of the website.