We need you!
By Dr. Jeanne DelColle
Why did you decide to become an educator? Although there is a lot of research to explain why people leave the profession, we must first examine why students decide to become educators.
Everyone’s journey to education is different, whether it’s a seed planted at a young age or a decision to change careers to have more impact in the world. Regardless of background, most educators entered the profession because they had the confidence to see themselves in the role and the belief that they could make a difference in the lives of young people.
Besides confidence, one of the most influential factors for a student to consider becoming a teacher is when someone important in their life encourages them to become a teacher. Even if the student has never thought about the possibility of becoming a teacher, all it takes is having someone they trust to believe in them for them to consider this possibility. This is where we come in.
The Center for Future Educators (CFE) at the College of New Jersey is an NJEA-funded statewide organization that strives to recruit the next generation of educators. Our goal is to work with middle and high schools across the state to get students considering entering the profession while still in school. Above all, we want to ensure that our future educators are diverse and representative of New Jersey’s rich cultures and traditions. CFE provides future teachers with experiences that help students see themselves on college campuses in pursuit of a career in education, but we can’t do the job alone.
What today’s educators can do
There are a few things you can do to help inspire the next generation of educators.
Develop your own programs
If you work in middle school or high school, start a chapter of the New Jersey Future Educators Association (NJFEA). This after-school club is a great starting point for developing your own programs within your district and empowers students to take on local leadership responsibilities and work in their communities through service projects.
Membership in the NJFEA grants students access to conferences on college and university campuses, the NJEA convention, statewide student leadership opportunities, and more. If you work in a secondary school, make sure your building offers a Tomorrow’s Teachers course, an elective for upper secondary grades that serves as an introductory course and is also a dual-credit option for several New York universities. Jersey. We need dynamic teachers to lead these clubs and classes to inspire the next generation of future educators. Yes, we need you!
Build a team
If you have an NJFEA chapter or a Tomorrow’s Teachers course, who are your community and district champions and collaborators? Recruiting students requires teamwork. We need teachers, school counselors and administrators working together to recruit future educators, especially those who have never considered the profession before. CFE will be hosting a week-long, night-time education academy this summer for students who want to explore the possibility of being a future educator.
tell them why
Great teachers recognize the characteristics necessary for success and can see those characteristics in others. How many times have others seen things in you that you did not see in yourself? It is important that when we see characteristics in our students that would make them great educators, we inform them, especially students from underrepresented populations. Is the student good at coaching, mentoring or helping? Does the student have a passion for social activism? Don’t just tell a student they could be a great educator, tell them why they would be successful.
Let them see themselves in the role
The CFE offers programming that allows students to explore the profession through experiences featuring diverse educators. The CFE Speaker Series is a virtual opportunity to speak with honored educators each month about their journey and work. NJFEA conferences offer students the opportunity to work with college faculty and staff while hearing from NJEA Preservice students about what it’s like to take the next step toward teacher certification.
Encouraging students to join the NJFEA or Tomorrow’s Teachers can give students the opportunity to engage with the community in service-learning projects and observe education behind the scenes through field placements. in district classrooms.
Use CFE as a resource
There has never been a more important time for us to reflect on what we want the legacy of education to be. At a time when education is politicized, and when the media shows how hostile people can be towards schools and teachers, many students do not even consider education as a possible profession when they have the qualities of great teachers. This is why it is important for schools to develop their own programs for future educators.
There are so many students who want to make a difference in this world, let’s encourage them to do so in a classroom. CFE offers many programs and resources to help you, including recordings of events to help inspire the next generation of students. You can find more information about our programming at futureeducators.tcnj.edu or write to us at [email protected]
Dr. Jeanne DelColle is executive director of the Center for Future Educators at the College of New Jersey. Formerly a professor of history at the Burlington County Institute of Technology, DelColle is the 2012 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year and was also named New Jersey Council for the Humanities Teacher of the Year, History Teacher of the Year and a Global Learning Fellow of the NEA Foundation. She can be contacted at [email protected]