May 29, 2023

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Teacher shortage?  Extra hands from the professional world can help fill in the gaps'

Teacher shortage? Extra hands from the professional world can help fill in the gaps’

Just like in the business world, we often have to explain to children why they need to learn something. And no one can make this translation better than anyone who applies a career in professional practice, writes Rudi Maelbranchiki of Koderdogo.

With the start of the new school year, we still have an acute shortage of teachers. This is how the day stands according to VDAB There are 3000 job vacancies open in the field of education. Who are the characters on it? The Flemish Parliament Early on, the need for employment in the 2023-2024 school year will be at least 28 percent higher than it was in the 2017-2018 school year. So the shortage of teachers today will only grow.

Meanwhile, the government has launched a campaign to attract people from the private sector to education, although for now this appears to be a cover for the bleeding. However, the solution is simpler than we think. Why not invite the professional world to train the professionals of tomorrow?

When you think of your best teacher or favorite teacher in school, you usually end up with someone who was able to teach a subject with the necessary passion. A teacher who made you feel at the end of the school year that you really learned something. Although most teachers certainly have a good dose of passion, there is no place where the enthusiasm can be greater than with a professional who is actually testing a topic on a daily basis. While the math teacher reconciles numbers within the school walls for an entire career, the engineer uses numbers and clues in practice. For example, by applying mathematics to support analytics and artificial intelligence.

So the professional has something the average teacher lacks: experience in a professional context. This extra baggage can have a huge impact on students. How often do we hear kids say they don’t like a subject like French. Until they discover that language is more than a series of words and grammar rules that they have to memorize, and that they really need French to develop a legal profession, for example. Just like in the business world, we often need to explain to children why they need to learn something. And no one can make this translation better than someone who applies a profession in professional practice.

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Teaching remains a profession

Of course, the majority of teachers should remain true teachers. Just like with a doctor or mechanic, teaching is a craft in which you can make a difference with specific knowledge and skills. In addition, there should be a learning impact with the children, and as a teacher you should be able to assess whether your students are ready to start the next class. But that doesn’t mean a few extra hands from the professional world can’t help fill in the gaps.

Skills don’t necessarily have to be a foundation for this type of professional teacher, although you can expect them to undergo some additional training to make up for the lack of teaching skills. But in principle it should be entirely possible to put someone in front of the class without much preparation and for that person to be supervised and evaluated by a fellow who has been trained as a teacher.

No lack of motivation

Therefore, it is not impossible to compensate for the partial shortage of teachers with professionals. Motivation should not be an issue either. I myself am a volunteer coach at CoderDojo, a non-profit organization that organizes free meetings for young people to learn programming together. In our organization we rely mainly on people from the professional world who have no teaching experience. Remarkably, most of our coaches have a significant intrinsic incentive to pass on their knowledge to a new generation. They often have an egg that they can’t get rid of while they’re working. They are usually also people who once wanted to become a teacher, but chose a different profession for different reasons.

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In education, we may need to reinforce this motivation among professionals. Training kids on the weekend is one thing, but giving up some of your rest by joining a weekly school schedule is quite another. In addition to compensation, it will require effort from the business world itself. For example, companies can put people in front of dismissal who are late for work and can no longer fully post them. This way you keep their work and these employees can continue to receive their full salaries, while the company gets a small compensation from education.

Give teachers more freedom

In order to include professionals in education, we also have to abandon the highly structured approach of the school system. Therefore, corporate professionals should not be a direct substitute for a mentor. They should be given the space to bring specific experiences from their professional context into the classroom. For example, failure in education is not tolerated, while most entrepreneurs succeed because they learn from the mistakes they make. Professionals can do it Fail fast, learn fasterThe principle is also in the chapter.

Although instructional techniques are still important, a more coaching style in each category can certainly offer added value. The coach does not assume that there is only one answer to a problem and prefers to give his students a toolkit of methods by which they can arrive at a solution. This produces surprising results if you allow children to solve a problem without a theoretical basis. While a classic learning environment is often a one-way street, the coach will encourage interaction. In time, the children will help and train each other. And when they see with their own eyes that something (not working), they are more likely to learn something from it.

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This not only makes teaching easier for professionals, but it can also make the profession more attractive for full-time teachers. Of course there are times when you have to put theory into practice and achievement goals remain an important guide for every teacher. But the way you achieve your learning goals can be a little freer. It can ensure that each teacher soon conveys the same emotion as one teacher from the past that we all remember vividly.

Finally, engaging professionals also provides companies with a unique opportunity to help bridge the gap between education and the job market. Many profiles are not filled and surely in the field of ICT we will soon need more and more people. The professional’s enthusiasm may lead more children to choose the STEM direction. And that schools and businesses are finally getting more in line with each other. So it’s a win for everyone!

Rudy Milebrance He is a Head Coach and Board Member of CoderDojo, a non-profit organization that hosts free events to teach youth programming.