Over the last few decades, schools in the United States have undergone a number of drastic changes that have resulted in a lack of qualified teachers. Thanks to budget cuts, changing standards, and other factors, many schools to have to stretch staffs to the breaking point. To combat the problem, local, state, and federal government agencies, as well as private companies, are offering many incentives, such as student loan forgiveness, private grants, and scholarships. More importantly, those who work in teacher shortage areas can gain a large amount of self-satisfaction for providing an invaluable service to the community.

Here is a list of current shortage areas for elementary teachers:

  • Special Education

    Over the last two decades, efforts to make classrooms more inclusive have led to a shift away from the self-contained special education classroom. This has led to an increased need for special education teachers to step in where already time-strapped teachers cannot. In addition, schools and communities have also required special education teachers to perform more paperwork, interventions, and to attend more teacher-parent/school worker meetings. These major changes have made special education a prime field for “teacher burn-out” after only a few years.

    Special education students deserve high-quality, efficient, passionate educators. Those who go into this field come home with a large sense of satisfaction for serving a community of learners that are often overlooked or pushed aside for the traditional student population. And while the paperwork and workload may be hard, special education teachers also benefit from the higher demand, increased salary (at many districts), and cross or co-teaching opportunities.

  • Bilingual and ESL

    A bilingual and ESL teacher is the combination of a translator and teacher into one package. Because of the lack of skilled instructors proficient in certain or more rare languages, teachers who are able to efficiently and creatively teach to both English and non-English learners is a one-of-a-kind educator. The amount of students in the classroom, the lack of proper resources (textbooks, lesson plans, assistant teachers), and the need for the teacher to also represent non-English speaking parents in addition to the student has also decreased the amount of available teachers.

    Being bilingual or having the certification to teach an ESL classroom is quite the gift! It makes teachers with this ability a much needed and highly appreciated commodity. Other teachers needing a translator or assistance in modifying homework depend on these teachers to provide a service that no one else can. Being invaluable can create job security and lead to higher levels of retention.

  • Underserved Community Teachers

    Recruiting teachers to underserved communities has always been a challenging endeavor, but the problem has grown worse in recent decades. Rural areas, in particular, face challenges attracting highly qualified teachers due to an inability to pay at industry standards. New teachers also shy away from the perceived lower quality of living that comes with a smaller community life.

    Underserved urban areas face major challenges too; though areas like Detroit can offer higher pay, teachers often must go into more dangerous communities or schools with poor performance records.

    Teaching in an underserved area means being a part of a unique community. Instead of being just another teacher from just another school, a teacher can stand out and make a direct impact on the lives of both their students and communities.

The demand for teachers continues

As American schools change with the current political, sociological, and community needs; so must our elementary teachers. Those who plan to or currently teach in teacher shortage areas can make a direct impact in the direction of education. From special education teachers continuing to monitor the progress of a student with disability, to the ESL teacher becoming a bridge from classroom to home, or the rural teacher bringing a higher quality of instruction; the in-demand elementary teacher continues to be the profession that gives back.