Strategies to support learning continuity amid teacher shortages

Strategies to support learning continuity amid teacher shortage

February 14, 2023Nearpod Team

There’s no question that educators and students have been fronted with complex challenges these past years, and this year is no exception. Administrators and educators are faced with the growing challenge of teacher retention and teacher shortages—which has impacted the education system in various ways. Although teacher shortages aren’t a new topic in education, it is currently affecting schools now more than ever. This is why it’s important to address emergency, short-term, and long-term teacher shortage scenarios to support learning continuity when school or district resources are limited.

Teacher shortages statistics

Administrators across the country are racing to find qualified applicants to fill classroom vacancies and address the teacher shortage. Here are some statistics that highlight what educators and administrators are facing:

  • Total enrollment in teacher preparation programs has declined by approximately 30%, and there’s been a decline in program completion since 2010.
  • According to this Adopt-a-Classroom survey, educators believe their working conditions have become more challenging, especially after teaching during the pandemic.
  • An NEA survey states that 86% of its members have seen more educators leaving the profession or retiring early since the start of the pandemic.

This challenge is not one that can be taken lightly or easily solved, but we all acknowledge the need to ensure that students still thrive and that learning continues.

What does the classroom and learning look like with a national teacher shortage?

Take a look at some examples of scenarios and challenges administrators and educators have faced when a classroom is without a teacher:

  • Students are sent to the auditorium or cafeteria with no instruction taking place
  • Potential that classrooms are led by individuals with no previous teaching experience
  • Teachers covering other classes during planning periods
  • Doubling up on classes; teacher expected to manage increased class size
  • Combine classes across different grade levels 
  • Administrators, paraprofessionals, and TOSAs pulled in to cover classroom instruction

How many of these examples look familiar? Probably more than we care to admit. We want to ensure that learning continues in the classroom and that there are flexible options for those leading a class or delivering a lesson. 

Watch our webinar recording and take a deeper look at some strategies and solutions for in-the-moment scenarios and plans for having resources in place for emergencies, short-term, and long-term situations.

Strategies to support learning continuity amid teacher shortages

Ready-to-teach resources at your fingertips

Need ready-to-teach lessons and resources? Look no further than the featured teaching resources of the Nearpod Library. Here, teachers will find folders that include content spanning multiple subjects and grade bands, current events, life skills, and much more.

Nearpod Lesson Library Featured tab

Here’s one more option to help support the continuity of learning in an emergency situation. Nearpod has over 22k+ ready-to-run lessons, videos, and activities. These resources can be used either Live with the teacher providing direct instruction or as Student-Paced with students working through the lesson independently.

We have a collection of lessons that Nearpod has explicitly optimized for Student-Paced, independent learning! This collection has over 200 lessons across the four core subject areas and all grade levels. Simply add the lesson to your Nearpod library, launch the lesson as Student-Paced, and you’ll be ready to go in a time crunch!

Teaching 9-1-1: Emergency lesson plans

In emergency teacher shortage scenarios, safety and supervision are often the primary concern.  Here, the teacher is suddenly out of their classroom due to unexpected illnesses, an extra long meeting, or other unusual circumstances. Often, an adult will need to step into the classroom at a moment’s notice to maintain supervision. In these emergency scenarios, we will likely see a few things taking place… teachers filling in during the planning period, paraprofessionals leaving to manage the class, and volunteers from the front office. You get the idea!

Walking into a classroom with no teacher and no time to plan lessons can be a little overwhelming and intimidating. One of the easiest ways to add instruction to this scenario is with Nearpod’s lesson guides. These guides are built as a collection of skills-based lessons organized by grade and content area.

Short and long-term scenarios

The next broad category of teacher shortage scenarios are those that provide a little more time to prepare but could last a bit longer. Short and long-term situations where the teacher is not available to teach a class due to an extended absence, no qualified applicants, or even too many students in one room creating a new class. In this scenario, an adult needs to continue the student’s learning, but they may lack the skills or background to create pedagogically strong lessons. This is often where you see a classroom staffed with a long-term substitute, content being taught by a paraprofessional, or even a rotation of school-based staff covered by whoever is available at a given time.

Short and long-term scenarios differ from emergency scenarios in that the challenge shifts from safety and supervision to supporting the learning in a less than ideal situation. Let’s explore some ways to support this challenge and provide the instruction that the students need during this time.

Sub Plans for short-term scenarios

Nearpod Sub Plans to support educators amid national teacher shortage

Using Nearpod’s Sub Plans feature is a seamless way to help a teacher prepare a lesson for another classroom. Consider a situation where a teacher is going to be out of the classroom for a few days. The teacher across the hall teaches the same subject and topic. Instead of creating a new lesson plan, try using Nearpod’s Sub Plans.

In a few easy steps, lessons are added to the Sub Plans, Student-Paced codes are automatically generated, instructions are provided for the sub, and the student data will be shared with the teacher of record. Sub plans are emailed or printed. The substitute simply writes the code on the board for students to access the lesson.

Curriculum mapping planning for long-term scenarios

Curriculum mapping planning does require a bit of legwork and time spent on planning but can be a great return on investment. Consider your curriculum maps or pacing guides. When creating or updating those documents, link Nearpod lessons directly to the standard, the activity, the explanation, or the day – however, your maps are organized. This provides an excellent starting point for anyone to pick up and use immediately. The administrator and teacher can feel confident knowing that the learning resource is vetted and aligned to state learning standards. This plan can ultimately support everyone, the substitute, the new teacher or new to the content, the tech hesitant teacher, or even the admin who needs to jump in the classroom!

Curriculum Map example to support learning amid increase of teacher shortage statistics

Making the most of your School or District Library

A final solution to support long-term teacher shortage scenarios is through the utilization of the School and District Library features in Nearpod. Similar to aligning to the curriculum maps, this option will require some time and planning, but again, oh so worth it in the long term! With a school or district license, you have a library of folders that can be built, organized, and populated with ready-to-teach Nearpod lessons. This preparation can be completed by a curriculum team, grade-level teams, or vetted lessons from your teachers.

Some ideas to get your library started include determining the expectations for a rigorous Nearpod lesson. Determine the best way to organize the library and manage shared libraries with folders and subfolders (grade level, subject, grading period, etc.). Remember, a robust and well-organized school or district library can make finding and using quality Nearpod lessons much easier for teachers, coaches, and administrators.

Putting these strategies into action

Consider the teacher shortage scenarios you face. Plan ahead and prepare emergency Nearpod lessons with links ready to share. Begin the work to build out the school and district libraries with ready-to-teach Nearpod lessons. Work with your curriculum department to add standards-aligned lessons to the district curriculum maps.

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