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How a teacher surplus makes it a buyers' market

In most US school districts, and in many of the larger cities throughout the Western world, there are more trained teachers than there are available jobs. This makes for a buyers' market.

And this means that school trustees and administrators have a choice: They don't have to take the ''first willing and able certificated candidate who walks through the door.''

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School directors and personnel officers can search out the most highly qualified candidates. They can pick and choose, filling in weak areas and upgrading teaching staffs.

A vacancy in a language department, for example, might be filled by someone who not only went through high school and college with a strong academic program and mastery of at least two foreign languages, but who had lived for a time in a home where the language(s) he or she is to teach was natively spoken.

Those reviewing candidates can look, too, for evidence of not only speaking, reading, and writing skills in the language(s) to be taught, but evidence of teaching ability, a deep interest in learning, and a willingness to contribute to the local community.

A need for a new history teacher at the secondary level creates a grand opportunity to add to the staff someone with a wide background in reading and research in history; someone with an abiding interest in the subject who has kept up with current scholarship.

Also for a history teacher who can produce evidence of imaginative teaching skills; someone willing to rouse and interest the most latent learners. And someone whose own academic background reflects high grade point averages and strong showings on competitive examinations.

For primary and elementary grades the demand can be for teachers who not only know how to stimulate and keep productive those who are fast learners, but reach deep down into a full reservoir of teaching skills to aid those with learning problems.

Also, it is an opportune time to seek out those candidates who want to be a part of the community and have rich backgrounds and interests to share.

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More candidates than teaching vacancies produces a grand time for the gatekeepers to be particularly alert. For those who hire new teachers to insist on their schools getting only the highest quality scholarship coupled with teaching ability.

It's also a good time to think of filling one single teaching vacancy with two or more part-time teachers. There are an estimated 1 million adults in the US with teaching certificates who do not hold down teaching jobs.

Many of these might be able to fill a half-time or part-time position and possess a superior academic background to the candidate who is available for a full-time position. No reason to settle for lower quality when the ''best'' is available - only requiring some administrative flexibility.

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