Preparing teachers for the job market

In 2010, roughly 2,700 new teachers were certified in British Columbia but only about 1,500 new positions were available.

Although the numbers are daunting, Rita Irwin, associate dean of Teacher Education in UBC’s Faculty of Education, says overall the outlook is promising.

According to UNESCO, worldwide there is a severe shortage of teachers. Job opportunities exist abroad and teachers are always needed outside of the Lower Mainland.
The demographics also suggest that the job market will improve in the next four years as more teachers start to retire and more children enter into the school system, says Irwin.

Student Jessica Lemes da Silva wasn’t aware of the local job market before deciding to move to Vancouver from California, where she worked in the film industry, to pursue an education degree.  Nonetheless the future teacher remains optimistic.

Originally an oboe player from Florida, Lemes da Silva is working towards becoming a secondary school teacher specializing in music education. UBC has the only education program in British Columbia where students select a specialty.

“Graduates have a unique advantage because they are well prepared to teach their subjects in secondary schools or specialized settings beyond schools,” says Irwin.

Today, teachers with specialties in music, French, home economics, physics, math, English as an additional language and vocational specialties like technology education and chef educators, are in high demand; and UBC offers each of these programs.

“Over the past decade, 90 to 100 per cent of our students have found teaching positions annually upon completion of the B.Ed. program in Music Education for secondary school,” says Scott Goble, associate professor of Music Education in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy.

Through teaching, Lemes da Silva hopes she can instill in her students the conviction that music can be enjoyed by everyone and offers a unique way to express themselves.

To gain some additional experience, Lemes da Silva is organizing an extra-curricular chamber ensemble in the Kerrisdale school where she will be doing her practicum this winter. She is also working as a woodwind coach and conducting a piece with UBC’s Concert Wind Band, an ensemble for music and non-music students run by the UBC School of Music.

“Students have many music performance and music teaching opportunities while they are in the program, some at UBC and others while on practicum,” says Goble.
“The experience they gain from these opportunities contributes to their attractiveness when school districts are looking to hire new music teachers.”

“I want to learn as much as I can from the teachers I’m working with this year,” says Lemes da Silva, “but I also want to try something new and see what I can add to the music programs.”

Lemes da Silva says the extra work is helpful because it gives her a chance to collaborate with other educators and she’s learning best practices for dealing with additional challenges.

To read about UBC’s new Teacher Education Program, visit:

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