Good Morning County! Happy Sunny Monday.
This weekend I attended the annual Teacher Placement Process, and it was undoubtedly one of the smoothest I have seen in my 5 or 6 years of involvement. Over 650 jobs were available at the event, and there were approximately 150 teacher appointments. This should mean some good news for young teachers moving into the area, but may come at a cost for next year. It is hard not to imagine, with so many jobs opening up, that the available pool of substitute teachers will be pretty seriously depleted come the fall.
For many years now, jurisdictions around the world have been struggling with teacher shortages. In particular, both the UK and the United States have areas where many positions are simply not filled come September. Here in Canada, we have seen an uptick in teacher recruitment efforts in some provinces, particularly in British Columbia where the recent Supreme Court decisions in favour of the BCTF saw a rather sudden need for 2600 new bodies to fill gaps.
Traditionally, teaching in Nova Scotia has been one area where we have not suffered from a lack of a qualified workforce. However, as many of us can attest, getting substitute teachers seems to have become increasingly challenging over the past few years. As a department head, I can personally testify to many days when, despite Aesop having made dozens and dozens of calls, I found myself scrambling to get “fill ins” for teachers who had fallen ill.
There are many reasons why this may be the case, of course. I do not have any particularly reliable research that suggests a single cause and, indeed, most of what I believe about the supply of substitute teachers is anecdotal. However, we have had a number of discussions with HRSB through our Management/ Teacher committee on the issue, and it seems that subs are, indeed, in rather short supply.
The last time that the province underwent a serious review of how teacher supply matched up with the job market was done in 2012. Considering the number of positions that were unfilled after Saturday here in Metro alone, it may be time for another such review. It would be interesting to see if enrollment and recruitment for teacher training programs here in Nova Scotia is keeping pace with current and future demand. It would also be of interest to see if there are plans afoot to ensure the needs of rural communities are protected, as many young teachers get scooped up by the larger boards.
The year is coming to a close, and since the teacher placement process has wrapped up, my attention is already starting to turn towards some great summer NSTU events, as well as this coming September. If any of you are interested, the CONTACT conference expression of interest applications are due at 4pm today. This year’s event will be held in PEI from August 8th – 11th, and is centered around the theme of new techniques and classroom teaching. I would also like to take this opportunity to remind you of the Pride parade on Saturday July 22nd, and of annual Labour Day Rally in September. Keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter this summer for more details.
Next week will be the final installment of the Check-in for this year, but I will have my cell phone on me all summer, and will be attending a number of NSTU events in my capacity as your local President. Contact me anytime.
Good luck on the home stretch!