Addressing Shortages of Educators in an Uncertain COVID-19 Landscape: Viewing Teacher Candidates as Assets

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Districts trying to address budgets and service delivery uncertainties posed by the COVID-19 crisis may minimize priority on collaborations with local educator preparation programs (EPPs). In fact, school districts may shy away from welcoming preservice teacher candidates, avoiding what they perceive as an added burden on overtaxed teachers and overwhelmed administrators. However, Teacher candidates should be considered an asset in school buildings, and may help to alleviate potential and ongoing teacher shortages in many content areas. With adequate EPP supervision, teacher candidates can augment veteran teachers’ efforts while successfully honing their own professional practices. Moreover, they may help to address teacher shortages that may occur due to efforts to reduce classroom and school building density. Instead of delaying partnerships, districts, in concert with EPPs, have an opportunity to reimagine and innovate how field experiences are best organized and delivered to address student needs and improve teacher preparation during a time of disruption and challenge.