CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The Illinois State Board of Education is working with colleges in Illinois to combat a growing teacher shortage in the midst of the pandemic.
In 2019, education leaders identified the shortage as a crisis. At that point, there had been roughly 1,400 unfilled teaching positions in 2018. As of August in 2020, there are more than 1,900 positions left unfilled.
State superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala said ISBE has taken steps during the pandemic to prevent the shortage from growing.
“We are developing in partnership with IEA and IFT a virtual teaching coach, which we’re really excited about,” Ayala said. “So, those teachers who needed that extra support with mentoring will be provided that virtual coaching model and it’s really designed to connect the new teacher with a coach that is very much teaching in the same subject area.”
Ayala said ISBE has also waived the TPA exam, a traditional final requirement.
Ali Trizzle, who studied at Eastern Illinois University, earned her student teaching certification this summer and will be working with elementary school students in Charleston this fall. She said some of her deadlines for final requirements in the spring were pushed back as part of an adjustment from COVID-19. She said she’s looking forward to being in the classroom this fall.
“I just love when you’ve worked with a student on something for so long, and they finally get it, and that lightbulb goes off,” Trizzle said. “That’s just the best feeling, knowing that you helped them get to that moment.”
It’s a season of firsts for Trizzle, whose son is starting kindergarten this fall as well.
“It’s kind of nerve-wracking, but it’s also taught me to be flexible,” she said. “You’ve got to just kind of roll with the different changes that are happening by the day, sometimes by the hour and take it all in stride, because this is what life is going to be like now or for the foreseeable future and we’re just going to have to do it.”
Trizzle said she’s keeping a positive mindset. She added her professors at EIU also helped keep students prepared and informed about all of the changes this past spring.