A Call to Action
Barbara A. Sposet, Ph. D., Baldwin Wallace University
OFLA Teacher Education and Licensure Committee Chair
What do you get when you gather 21 college/university World Language faculty, one ODE consultant and one ODHE (Ohio Department of Higher Education) representative? The answer: A summit to discuss the dire shortage of foreign language educators in Ohio, barriers to recruitment and the development of a ‘dream’ plan to create a pipeline to encourage young people to choose a career as a world language classroom teacher.
The top two barriers that were identified mirrored the suggestions made and responses received after the publication of the initial Cardinal article on the topic: perception of teaching as a career and multiple financial issues including those for travel abroad, student loan repayment, and starting salaries.
It was with much concern that summit participants heard of at least two large, state universities whose licensure programs (not the majors) had been dropped with no explanation. It was also sobering to hear about the lack of encouragement students were receiving to enter the teaching professions from their own foreign language teachers as well as on the college/university level.
Using a World Café discussion strategy, the participants were tasked to come to consensus on their top strategies. The possibilities included looking into a collaboration between colleges and universities (particularly those whose licensure program has been dropped or has low enrollment) to offer their fellow institutions and WL majors a synchronous WL methods course, establishing partnerships with local K12 school districts for recruitment purposes, scholarships for study abroad, tuition reimbursement for clinical practice, and enhanced loan forgiveness opportunities.
Ryan Wertz, ODE representative, provided participants information about the state’s affiliation with Educators Rising, a national initiative to (with significant funding from the NEA and education support from the AFT, Digital Promise and the National Board for Teaching Professional Teaching Standards) to address the overall teacher shortage. The initiative provides a curriculum designed around five mini-credentials for students considering education as a career choice http://www.educatorsrising.org.
Discussions will continue with the initial summit participants via an OFLA google group site and during the OFLA spring conference in Cleveland.
As always, comments on this topic and/or interest in participation in this advocacy initiative are welcomed via firstname.lastname@example.org.