As we reach the end of the primary 2023 hiring season, Academic Leaders once again see troubling shortages of candidates, especially for computer science, physics, and language courses. At this point in the spring, Academic Leaders are still hoping to fill those spots. But by the time we reach the summer, schools with with open job postings should stop searching and start problem-solving: What do you do when you can’t find a teacher?
This is the time for schools to start looking realistically at candidate pools and staffing needs. All too often, schools keep positions open, hoping a relocating candidate will appear. As the truism goes, hope is not a strategy–and gaps in staffing require putting all the strategies on the table.
One strategy, of course, is to reduce your course offerings. Sometimes that’s not possible (courses required for graduation, for instance); often, it engenders ill will and leaves students in the lurch. If your school wants to run a course you can’t staff, there’s another option–online learning.
In situations like this, schools use One Schoolhouse to ensure they can run the courses their students are counting on. Take, for example, a school that loses their Physics teacher in the spring. Some of those courses–typically the introductory ones–can be distributed to colleagues in the department who are willing to take on a section in addition to their regular load. But when it comes to higher-level courses with single sections (always the hardest to schedule!) that require an additional level of expertise, there are few, if any, options on campus.
Moving those difficult-to-staff courses online can be an elegant solution. Student schedules gain flexibility, and schools can avoid overburdening their faculty. This can also avoid a budget crunch, because the fees associated with an online course are often lower than the cost of salary and benefits for a full- or part-time employee.
When Academic Leaders make the decision to move a course online in the spring, rather than in the summer, they’re in the best strategic position–they can control the narrative, communicate effectively with students and families, and help students have a smooth transition into online learning.
If you’re looking at one of these challenges, don’t just follow your typical hiring process and cross your fingers that the right candidate appears. find yourself stuck with a staffing challenge, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and give us a call, or send us an email. We’re happy to talk through the ways we can supplement your on-campus program. And if you need to staff a particular course and don’t see it listed in our catalog, we may still be able to help–with a wide range of trained online teachers, we may be able to add a course to our catalog that meets your needs.
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)