Many students discouraged from career in teaching

Located in Park Hall and Wilbur Hall on the SUNY Oswego campus, the School of Education offers over 40 undergraduate and graduate programs. Photo by: Kiley Wren

The continued issue of teacher shortages has raised concerns about the future of education and why people do not want to pursue a career in teaching. 

Ever since the pandemic, there have been various reports of teacher shortages across the United States, with many schools not able to fill teaching roles or filling them with potentially questionable candidates. 

This problem didn’t just arise from the pandemic, it goes back to the amount of people actually pursuing a degree in education, which has decreased over the years. 

“There are different reasons why it is hard to recruit,” said Joanne O’Toole, the associate department chair and student teacher coordinator for education at Oswego State University. 

According to data from the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), 89,398 education degrees were issued for the 2020-21 year out of over 2 million college degrees issued total. 

Even the ones who did end up receiving their degree, some have changed their mind about becoming a teacher and going into the education field. 

“Teaching continues to exist as the same career as it once was for the most part,” O’Toole said. “But society and people’s choices have changed.” 

As O’Toole said, teaching has mostly stayed the same, but there have still been quite a bit of changes that have impacted schools. 

Schools across the U.S. have been faced with many devastating events over the last few decades that have threatened the safety of students and staff, like intruders and incidents involving gun violence. 

“School was always labeled as a safe place when I was in school,” said Kamali Baker, a senior education major at SUNY Oswego. “It still is labeled a safe place, but kids are really afraid of the possibility of an intruder.” 

Alongside that, low budgets, updated curriculums and a higher demand from teachers have also made things different now than what it once was. 

“There is a lot to deal with,” Baker said. “When I was in school, I don’t think my teachers had it as hard as teachers do now.” 

Before stepping into an official teaching role, it is a requirement to obtain an education degree and successfully complete student teaching, so they can be recommended to the New York State Education Department, O’Toole said. 

Student teaching is essentially a professional preparation program, O’Toole also said. 

“Right now it feels as though I am in the job and actually teaching,” Baker said, who is a student teacher in a second grade classroom. 

Since it is such a real world experience, it can be hard to come to terms with the fact that they are basically no longer students for some people, Baker said. 

SUNY Oswego education major Lindsey Joseph is currently in the adolescence education program at Oswego and is also a student teacher for a 7th grade classroom.  Joseph said although she loves it, it is also a lot of work for her being essentially a real teacher but also a student still. 

“The name student teaching communicates that they are indeed enacting two roles,” O’Toole said. “They are full-time students at the university while simultaneously being a full-time teacher.” 

The amount of hours and work put in for student teaching, something that is so foreign to students just beginning, can be overwhelming for some. 

“For some of us, this is a lot,” Joseph said. “Because we are there for hours and we are getting an experience, but we also have to arrange our schedule so we can accommodate for student teaching since it is a requirement to graduate.” 

Not only that, the teaching in itself can be quite the challenge for some students as well. 

“Teaching can look very easy from the outside, but it is very complex and it takes time,” O’Toole said. 

The difficulties that one faces during their student teaching experience and as an actual teacher can make the role seem off putting for some, causing them to steer away from teaching.

“If your heart is really into it then you will continue with it,” Joseph said. “If it is discouraging you, it’s because you don’t want to do it as much.” 

O’Toole said no matter what, there are always going to be some sort of barriers in becoming and being a teacher. 

“If you have a passion for it you are gonna do it,” Baker said. “It can be discouraging for some people, but if it’s really what you wanna do you are just going to do it.”