In the education space, we hear the word “placement” thrown around quite a bit when it comes to pairing a teacher or prospective teachers with one another or with an opportunity. When we think about student teaching, a critical step on the pathway to achieving licensure and for the institution an important part of their teacher pipeline, we almost universally refer to this process as “making a student teacher placement.”
The prevalence of “placement” as a defining concept in managing the educator workforce is tied to the ways in which the K-12 workforce was managed historically. Often a prospective teacher would be “placed” by the central office administrator into a role that was licensure aligned. In cases of reduction in force, the central office administrator would “force place” educators into roles that were aligned by licensure and tenure status. This usage of placement both as a word and a concept extended to the management of student teachers or practicum experiences, where a program administrator would place someone into a classroom with a teacher based on minimal requirements like licensure alignment. The goal in all these instances was to make placements as efficiently as possible so that at the end of the day, as many people as possible had a spot. And importantly, in all three examples, the driving criteria for placement were minimal requirements such as licensure.
When it comes to educator hiring today, there’s been a marked shift away from prioritizing placement and toward prioritizing match. Indeed, whereas the role of the Human Resources department when it comes to educator hiring may have been formally to “make placements”, it’s widely recognized today that the role of Human Resources department is to “facilitate matches or facilitate hiring”. This is to say, in the hiring context, instead of the organization saying who should be paired with what role based on minimal criteria, the organization supports the candidate and the hiring manager to surface information that helps both sides determine the fit for one another and make the best matching decision possible.
When it comes to student teacher and practicum placements, the shift to matching is underway but there is still more work to be done.
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