John M. Holland, Ph.D., NBCT, will lead the blogging roundtable discussion on teacher shortages this May and June. An early childhood educator in Richmond, Virginia, John has more than 20 years of experience serving his community’s youngest and most vulnerable students.

This week, John M. Holland, Ph.D., NBCT, (@jmholland) kicked off the May and June blogging roundtable on teacher shortages with his post, “Dear Future Teacher: Why we need you to choose and stay in the profession.” In this eloquent meditation on the rewards, rigors, and joys of teaching, John considers his own career path in education, as well as the many reasons young people should consider joining the teaching profession—and staying there.

With 20 years of experience serving his community’s youngest and neediest students in high-poverty schools, John speaks directly to the connection between equity and teacher retention. He writes, “I can count on one hand the number of student teachers I have seen stick around more than three years. Sometimes young teachers leave to find a better fit in a less demanding setting, while the students they teach during those first three years are passed on to yet another fresh teacher.”

Research reveals that retaining teachers is an even bigger problem than recruiting them. However, John raises important issues for policymakers as well as administrators to consider in what it takes to entice millennials to pursue teaching—drawing on polling data that suggests young adults today seek purpose and development in their careers, not just job satisfaction.

In his blog, Emergent Leader, John describes his own path into the teaching profession as serendipitous; a substitute teaching gig in a Head Start classroom became a long-term opportunity, which helped him discover his calling as an early childhood educator. Mentorship from colleagues and veteran teachers in his school and membership in virtual learning communities helped John find his tribe and refine his teaching practice.

As a member of the dynamic teacher team who helped author Teaching 2030: What We Must Do for Our Students and Our Public Schools—Now and in the Future, John proposed innovative solutions to transform the teaching profession and improve learning for every student. He has blogged extensively for CTQ, served as a #TeachStrong Ambassador for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and taught numerous college courses, including most recently as a guest lecturer for Mount Holyoke College’s Master of Arts in Teacher Leadership program.

John writes, “I have become much more reflective based on my interactions with teachers from across the country, especially through my work with CTQ. In terms of student learning my friendships and network have deepened my understanding of my students and my colleagues.”

He adds that his daily interactions with CTQ, fellow National Board Certified Teachers, accomplished early childhood educators, and researchers have helped him grow into what Carol Frederick Steele describes as an “inspired teacher”—and commit to a career in the classroom.

By posing questions like “Why teach?” and “Why stay?” John invites Collaboratory members to begin a frank roundtable discussion about why we have a teacher shortage in this country in the first place, how the shortage impacts our most vulnerable students, and how we can solve it going forward.

“With three million teachers in America who spend their days communicating more with children than peers,” John writes, “it’s often hard to develop an identity around the profession. The act of writing and telling a story of you and your classroom builds your identity.”

It’s helpful to understand my position, opinions and experience relative to my peers. We all want affirmation and validation around the work we do every day.

Please join John and the CTQ community this May and June as we share stories, strategies, and solutions to move the needle on teacher retention, recruitment, and development—so every teacher feels inspired, like John, to stay in the profession. 

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