The Maine Department of Education convened a committee of educational stakeholders to identify and develop strategies to build and strengthen Maine’s Educator Workforce. #TeachMaine is built on twelve mutually reinforcing strategies to address needs at the school, SAU, and state levels.
Maine’s educator shortage is not a new issue. In 1999, concerned with the condition of Maine’s educator workforce, the 119th Legislature convened a K-12 Educator Recruitment and Retention Commission to study Maine’s educator workforce needs and to make recommendations. The commission’s report, Quality Educators: The Best Opportunity for Maine Children was published in 2001. In subsequent years, the Legislature commissioned the Maine Education Policy Research Institute (MEPRI) to study Maine’s educator workforce challenges and make recommendations, resulting in the following reports: Teacher Turnover (2018), Challenges with Teacher Retention and Staffing Shortages (2019), and a Feasibility Study of Assessing Supply and Demand for Maine Educators (2019).
MEPRI’s recent report, Educator Recruitment and Retention in Maine (2020) reviews the aforementioned studies, and provides more recent data on Maine’s educator workforce. While Maine has made progress in some metrics, including increased education levels of educator workforce and increased gender equity in school leadership, other areas require ongoing attention. Some notable data:Educator Pipeline: Since 2010, the number of teachers completing Educator Preparation programs in Maine has dropped by 53%--this is the third largest decline in the nation with Oklahoma and Michigan experiencing a 54% decline. Turnover for beginning teachers (less than 4 years of experience): From 2016 – 2017 nearly 8% of Maine’s new teachers left the profession. Expand the window (2015 – 2018) and the percentage doubles with 16% of beginning teachers leaving Maine’s education sector. Experienced Teachers and Administrators: In 2019, roughly 55% of experienced teachers and administrators responding to MEPRI’s survey have “seriously considered” leaving the education profession. Aging Workforce: Maine’s teaching workforce has aged. The average Maine teacher in 2018-19 was 46 years old, compared to 42 in 1999. About 1 in 6 teachers (15.6%) was over the age of 60 compared to only 1 in 50 (2%) in 1999.
Additionally, there are gaps in leadership development and urgency in building a strong school leader pipeline to ensure that there are enough well-prepared school and district leaders according to MEPRI’s 2021 report, School Leadership Development Programs in Maine: Building Statewide Capacity and Addressing Challenges.
“Overall, the leadership landscape in Maine features larger numbers of school leaders with fewer years of experience, difficulty filling vacant positions, and high turnover particularly in rural and lower resourced districts. In the 2019-20 school year, there were 583 principals in Maine schools with publicly funded students, of whom 23% were in their first two years of experience. Of the 323 assistant principals, 43% were in their first two years. A similar pattern is seen with district leadership: 20% of the 364 superintendents and 52% of assistant superintendents were in their first two years of experience in those roles”(i).
In response to these needs, the Maine DOE presents #TeachMaine.
In 2019, the Maine Department of Education (Maine DOE) shared a bold and exciting vision and mission for education in Maine, supported by five mutually reinforcing strategic priorities:
1. Inspire trust in our organization and in our public education system.
2. Develop, support, and sustain a robust educator workforce.
3. Promote educational excellence and equity for all Maine learners.
4. Ensure student and school safety, health, and well-being.
5. Support a culture of innovation and continuous improvement, led by all the experts in the field.
#TeachMaine takes a deep dive into strategic priority number 2: Develop, support, and sustain a robust educator workforce. #TeachMaine serves as a dynamic guide for education stakeholders to work collaboratively to achieve two goals: to inspire a talented and diverse future educator workforce, and to support and develop our current educator workforce. Within #TeachMaine, the word educator will generally refer to professionals who work in school settings. This includes teachers, administrators, educational technicians, and related service providers.
#TeachMaine is the result of contributions from education stakeholders throughout Maine, who provided feedback via multiple channels, including regional think tanks, focus groups, surveys, organizational meetings, and informal conversations. Additionally, the Department convened an Educator Talent Committee, a core group of internal and external stakeholders, to share their experiences, look at research and trends, and to make recommendations on how to address Maine’s educator shortage.
From this work, four major themes emerged: Recruitment and Retention Efforts; Diversify Educator Workforce Efforts; Support Educator Development, Growth, and Leadership; and Elevate Educators and the Education Profession. Within each theme, readers will find recommended strategies and action steps. These strategies are based on models from Maine that can be expanded, and models from other states that can be adapted. Some strategies are inclusive of the entire educator workforce, while other strategies are more specific to a particular role (i.e. teachers, administrators). Please note these strategies are not designed to be implemented in isolation, rather, they are interdependent, and stakeholders are encouraged to be mindful of this when considering plans to attract, develop, and retain a high-quality educator workforce.
#TeachMaine is the culmination of significant investment of time, resources, and energy from invested stakeholders across the state.
It would not have been possible without Maine's Educator Talent Committee who synthesized data from regional Educator Excellence Think Tanks, researched recruitment and retention trends, analyzed data, and shared personal insight. The Department celebrates and appreciates the following stakeholders for their contributions: #TeachMaine Stakeholder Group
In addition, a special thanks to editors Lacey Lee, Tasha Graff, and Kelsie Gagnon.
- #TeachMaine in Action!
The Maine Department of Education is deeply committed to supporting individuals, teams, SAUs and communities in their ongoing efforts. The Maine DOE Education Workforce Development Specialist offers personalized support for individuals interested in teaching in Maine. The Maine DOE Transformational Leadership Network offers pivotal experiential learning for school leaders. We encourage you to join us in these collective efforts! Check back often as we continue to bring this plan to action!
Theme 2: Expand and Diversify Educator Workforce Efforts
- The Maine DOE has partnered with Live + Work in Maine to support recruitment efforts. Through this new partnership, all school administrative units (SAUs) now have free access to Live + Work’s online job board, and will benefit from the extensive marketing activities Live + Work facilitates in order to attract educators and school staff to join Maine’s education workforce. We invite job seekers to check out all of the recent postings! Districts interested in participating can fill out this short form to get started.
Theme 3: Support Educator Growth, Development and Leadership:
- Have you ever wondered how you might better support new educators? Mentors play a critical role in supporting new educators. The DOE is pleased to offer mentor trainings virtually for those interested in becoming mentors. The session will take place via Zoom, a link will be sent to participants following registration. This training is offered at no cost, all materials will be available electronically. Educators will receive contact hours for participation. Sessions will start at 8:30 and end at 3:30. We encourage interested participants to discuss the opportunity, along with local training requirements, with their mentor chairperson prior to registering. Our next session is May 9, 2023 .
- #TeachMaine Sessions
Theme 4: Elevate Educators and the Education Profession:
- Submit a Maine Schools Sharing Success Story
- The DOE is thrilled to support a variety of recognition programs at both the state and national level. Consider nominating a teacher or classified school employee for one of the following awards:
Education Workforce Development Specialist