Educator shortages are impacting schools across the country and have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In collaboration with the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders (GTL Center) and the Departments of Education in Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Illinois, and Colorado, Regional Comprehensive Centers 1, 9, and 12 created a community of practice (CoP) that explored solutions to educator workforce challenges that have emerged as a result of or have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This CoP included five 60-minute virtual meetings, each focusing on a relevant educator shortage topic. For each meeting, a state education agency (SEA) representative shared their challenges and solutions on the discussion topic, followed by feedback and questions from the other participants, regional comprehensive center staff, and experts from the GTL Center. Each session concluded with a review of best practices and available resources.
Participants in the sessions engaged in a collaborative inquiry process for five individual topic sessions related to educator shortages, including:
- Leveraging Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) and engaging teacher candidates to fill learning gaps;
- Addressing substitute teacher shortages;
- Developing innovative staffing structures;
- Preventing attrition/retirements; and
- Developing policies and guidance on educator layoffs.
Participants learned from one another through structured/facilitated conversations led; considered implications for professional learning, policy, collective bargaining, equitable access, and short- and long-term outcomes; shared insights and develop solutions to COVID-specific educator shortages; gained access to available tools and resources curated for each topic area.