The way kids learn is changing, and the tools used to teach them are changing, too, due in part to the pandemic
“This online learning is a way that not only meets students where they’re at and where they are interested but also the way that we all learn,” Jeanette Simenson, a remote teacher with Elevate K-12 and an educational consultant, said.
Education technology companies like Elevate K-12, which is a live streaming instruction platform, are growing. Especially in areas where hiring a teacher can be tough.
“Our teacher could be sitting in Montana and will have a Texas teaching certification and will stream straight into the rural Texas classroom,” Shaily Baranwal, the CEO of Elevate K-12, explained.
The company is seeing more interest from teachers in joining their platform. One is for schedule flexibility.
“The second is the flexibility of location,” Baranwal said.
It’s just one of many ways districts are looking to combat the teacher shortage.
“We’ve filled about 83 percent of our openings for the start of the school year, we know that can shift,” Lacey Nelson, the director of talent acquisition at Denver Public Schools, said.
Nelson said the competition is tough. “Ensuring when they apply we’re calling them right away and trying to get in front of them. Competition is high,” she said.
“We recruit our teachers pretty much 12 months out of the year,” she said. “Whether it’s a teacher, school leader, central office positions, a lot of people are looking for that remote work.”
Not everyone in the industry thinks remote is the way to go in every scenario.
“While that is something that could bridge the gap for the short term, it's certainly not a long-term solution,” Amie Baca-Oehlert, the president of the Colorado Education Association, said. Her husband is a school administrator.
“At his school, they have probably about 10 openings they are trying to fill,” Baca-Oehlert said. “He’s to the point where he's literally phone calling people that he knows to say do you know anybody.”
For teachers like Simenson, teaching in a classroom and teaching virtually does have their differences.
“The biggest differences are the connection you make with students,” she said. Along with the connection barrier remote teachers face, there’s also the concern about how this setup works for younger students.
“This primary works for grades 6-12,” Baranwal said.
But as more research is done on the academic effectiveness of teaching for younger kids, and more teacher positions go unfilled in schools across the country, Simenson said technology can help fill the gap. “I think the partnership between education tech companies and school systems will be where we find our magic,” she said.