APS STEM teacher report: What worries undergraduates about teaching? What frustrates practicing teachers?

While our policy-makers ponder (or mostly ignore) what it would take to reverse the decline in Florida’s teacher pipeline, it’s worth considering the results of the recently released American Physical Society report “Recruiting Teachers in High-needs STEM Fields: A Survey of Current Majors and Recent STEM Graduates.”

When the American Physical Society surveyed undergraduates majoring in chemistry, computer science, math and physics about their perceptions of teaching careers, they included an open-ended question asking the undergraduates to give descriptions of things that would worry them about being a middle or high school teacher.  This chart illustrates the results:


The APS also surveyed recent graduates who are now teaching and asked them to provide open-ended descriptions of things that they like least about being a middle or high school teacher.  Here are the results:


Of course, these are the results of national surveys that do not reflect the special conditions we have here in Florida, including salaries considerably lower than the national average.

But it might be worth keeping in mind one thing I keep hearing from my own students when I raise the issue of teaching careers.  My students tell me over and over again that their own high school teachers told them that teaching in Florida is an awful career choice.  That is a difficult influence to overcome, and it is one that every teacher recruiter and policy-maker should keep in mind.

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