Hiring students to fill vacant school staffing positions has many benefits that have a short term and long term impact.
Filling school staff positions has become a major challenge for most districts across the nation. While the teacher shortage is of grave concern, even filling lesser roles has proved to be difficult. Many working in education are retiring or have plans to leave the profession, and so hiring students to take on school jobs has become a viable solution which presents many benefits, both long and short-term.
While some schools have employed parents, state workers, and brought back retired teachers to fill vacant positions, hiring students is a new method that wasn’t initially considered. Although the concept is viewed as unorthodox, many teens are eager to gain employment and build up work experience. They may not be old enough to receive a teaching certificate, but they do have the ability to work in other roles on school campuses.
At Missouri’s Northwest R-I schools, the labor shortage was threatening the district. Then someone proposed the idea to hold a job fair and allow juniors and seniors to apply for child care and custodial work. While school officials were uncertain as to how much interest would be displayed, the district did end up hiring students. At first, nine teenagers were able to take on these roles, and that later expanded to 20 students.
Instead of having to seek out fast food, or retail positions, teenagers are now able to work in a familiar environment within their own school district. Some are cleaning classrooms, others are prepping meals, and some are even helping to provide before and after school childcare. The district is working to ensure that hiring students caters to flexible schedules and positive experiences.
This takes added-stresses off of teachers who have had to fill in for empty positions and offers teenagers the benefits of earning their own pay through their efforts. It is expected to reduce teacher burnout. Instead of coming in early and staying late to provide child care or doing custodial work in addition to their other tasks, teachers can focus on the job they were trained to do. Plus, hiring students garners interest in the education profession.
College students majoring in education have been on the decline for years. Before the pandemic, less young adults wished to enter teaching and so the full effects are just now beginning to be felt. While many fear the long-term repercussions of this trend, hiring students has the potential to draw them back toward education degrees and provide a clear, realistic picture of what their career will entail. This way, not only will there be more teachers in the future, but they will also know exactly what to expect and can better prepare themselves to prevent culture shock, burnout, and other jarring reactions to teaching every year.
For now, hiring students is proving to provide juniors and seniors with experience and workforce training while reducing teacher stress. The lasting effects of this hold the potential to combat the teacher shortage and review the profession with a new generation of educators. The short and long-term effects offer so many benefits that local officials are hoping this new approach will catch on elsewhere.