Recruiting and Hiring Great Teachers

By Evelyn M. Randle-Robbins, M.A., author of The Hands-On Guide to School Improvement

Recruiting and Hiring Great TeachersStaff turnover differs from school to school. Some teachers retire. Some find it difficult to adjust to instructional or organizational changes and decide to go elsewhere. Other teachers are removed after the administration has thoroughly observed their teaching practices and determined that they aren’t a good fit for that particular school. Whatever the exact circumstances are, as an administrator, you are responsible for recruiting and hiring new, highly qualified teachers.

The new teacher you want is talented, resilient, and passionate. This teacher is willing to collaborate, understands the content area, and enjoys sharing with and learning from the young people he or she will support. These teaching qualities are desirable in any school, but they are particularly necessary in schools that are undergoing major changes in one or more areas. It is essential to have teachers who are willing to collaborate and who can form positive relationships with students who are not performing to state standards, are behind grade level, or have special needs. And lest I forget, school administrators need teachers who can work well with parents—even the challenging ones.

Recruiting Great Teachers
Here are a few tips to help you find the best teachers:

  • Market your school. Being willing and able to market your school means having the ability to share what’s happening inside the school building with businesses and outside partners—who in turn may have the ability (and willingness) to provide assistance and support the school may need. Great teachers want to be at great schools. Promote the wonderful things that are happening in classrooms, with parent groups, and within the community at your school. Post on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram to appeal to any new teachers looking for a great school. See if your school can be featured in a local newspaper, weekly magazine, or other medium that may attract possible teacher candidates.
  • Create partnerships. Many colleges and universities offer teacher preparation programs. Often, college students need to complete practicum hours or an internship to graduate from the program. Allow these vibrant, enthusiastic student teachers to complete their work at your school and develop positive working relationships with program coordinators. Nurturing these kinds of relationships will help you attract new teachers who are looking for their first jobs.
  • Attend job fairs. Job fair events appeal to large numbers of prospective teachers. Reserve a space and set up a table with brochures, pictures, awards, and student crafts to show that your school is a superb place to work. Inviting current teachers to assist with mini-interviews also charms potential hires.

Hiring Great Teachers
To hire the right new teachers, carefully design a selection and hiring process using the following steps:

  • Put together a hiring committee. Send out invitations to staff who might be interested in joining the committee. Invite parents from your parent-teacher organization or similar group to participate in the process. While your participation in hiring will remain crucial, this team will be instrumental in streamlining the process and making sure your time is spent efficiently.
  • Review résumés closely. Look for essential qualifications and experience.
  • Schedule an initial interview with each candidate. Invite other classroom teachers and stakeholders to participate.
  • Invite several candidates for a group interview. Give candidates a professional reading, and ask them to share their thoughts in response. Through group interactions, you’ll get snapshots of how your candidates would fit in with your existing team.
  • Schedule a shadowing. Candidates follow teachers to observe the classroom environment, the school’s culture and climate, and the instructional rigor.
  • Have each candidate submit a lesson plan. With your team, review the instructional plans. Then give feedback to the candidate. Ideally, you’ll deliver this feedback in person so you can observe a candidate’s reflection process.
  • Schedule a demonstration lesson. Have candidates teach their submitted instructional plans to a classroom of students. Observe the lessons with your hiring team, and provide instructional feedback to the candidate.

This process can help you find the right teachers for your school—a crucial task. Research confirms that teacher quality is the single most important variable contributing to student achievement. Whether it’s a large class or a small class, a lower-performing group of students or a higher-performing group, it is the teacher who will lead students to academic excellence. It is therefore essential that you attract, hire, and develop great teachers who have the skills to meet the needs of your students.

Evelyn Randle RobbinsEvelyn M. Randle-Robbins, M.A., holds a master’s in school leadership and supervision from Concordia University, as well as a master’s in elementary education from Columbia College. After serving as an educator in the Chicago Public Schools for over thirteen years, Evelyn became an assistant principal of the Howe School of Excellence, a K–8 school in Chicago, and later became the principal at the Curtis School of Excellence, also in Chicago. With her extensive experience at every level of school operations, Evelyn has both the theoretical knowledge and hands-on “know-how” to bring about school transformation and improvement. She lives in Chicago with her family.

The Hands-On Guide to School ImprovementEvelyn is the author of The Hands-On Guide to School Improvement: Transform Culture, Empower Teachers, and Raise Student Achievement.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

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Enter to Win Survival Guides for Kids with Special Needs

feb-giveawayStraightforward, friendly, and loaded with practical advice, these hands-on guides for kids with special needs give students the tools they need to not only survive, but thrive. With plenty of realistic examples and bright illustrations, these guides are accessible, encouraging, kid-friendly, and even life-changing.

One lucky reader will win all of these positive, must-have resources:

To Enter: Leave a comment below telling us how you help students with special needs thrive.

For additional entries, leave a separate comment below for each of the following tasks that you complete:

Each comment counts as a separate entry—that’s four chances to win! Entries must be received by midnight, February 24, 2017.

The winner will be contacted via email on or around February 27, 2017, and will need to respond within 72 hours to claim his or her prize or another winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way affiliated with, administered, or endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Winner must be a U.S. resident, 18 years of age or older.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

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6 Strategies to Reenergize Your PBIS Team

By Beth Baker, M.S.Ed., and Char Ryan, Ph.D., authors of The PBIS Team Handbook

6 Strategies to Reenergize Your PBIS TeamAfter a long winter break, school has resumed. In northern climates (where we are from) it continues to be cold and snowy, and there is not much to look forward to. The holidays are over. The newness of the school year has worn off. Pencils are shorter, erasers are gone, markers are missing caps, and some kids have already outgrown their new school clothes. It’s the perfect time to inject some much-needed energy into your school year.

  • Fight the drift! Perhaps we get a bit lazier during this time of year. Maybe our expectations start to drift, or maybe we have unintentionally lowered our expectations. Be sure you are still reinforcing the schoolwide expectations. (Char encourages PBIS teams to review these expectations with the entire faculty.) Inviting another teacher into your classroom to do an observation can be a powerful way to hold yourself accountable to shared agreements.
  • Energize your staff and students. This might be a great time for the PBIS team to lead the staff meeting with some energizers. Learn some new greetings and activities to stimulate students during advisory class or morning meetings.
  • Talk about data. Review behavioral data with your staff. Report on midyear trends, improvements, and declines. Make sure you identify your most important questions about PBIS implementation. Check to be sure you are collecting data that will help you answer your questions about your school and climate.
  • Do a reinforcement review. Midway through the year might be the perfect time to research new reinforcements for students. Check out this list of 100 free and unique classroom rewards. And don’t forget about the staff—they might need some new reinforcers as well. Beth worked with a principal who always had a great collection of gifts for teachers (gift cards or gift certificates from surrounding businesses). Often, many teachers only want 15 additional minutes to eat their lunches.
  • Reassess. As a PBIS team, look at the action plan you wrote in the beginning of the year. Does it still make sense? Which parts have you achieved and which have fallen off to the side? Does the plan need to be tweaked? Char encourages teams to highlight and celebrate progress on action plans and develop data-based revisions.
  • Tell your school’s PBIS story. We suggest that your PBIS team develop a narrative based on the data collected. The narrative summarizes the data, such as office discipline referrals (ODRs) and survey results, and can help you prepare communications for stakeholders at your school (what’s working and what isn’t working). Use this time to check that artifacts are up-to-date and all in one place. Some schools use a three-ring binder, while others might prefer using an online app. There are many creative ways to keep the narrative alive and current using school technology.

This list is by no means exhaustive. The weeks after winter break often feel like a “winter slump,” but returning to school after a long break can also be refreshing. February is a great time to conduct refreshers for students and staff. Paying attention to the things that have worked in your school and the things that haven’t is also a great way to start planning for next fall. It will be here before you know it!

Beth Baker, FSP AuthorBeth Baker, M.S.Ed., is an independent behavioral consultant and intervention specialist at Minneapolis Public Schools, where she works to create positive behavioral environments for elementary students. She was formerly the lead PBIS coach for a school district in the Minneapolis metropolitan area as well as a special educator working with students who have emotional behavioral disability (EBD) needs.

Char Ryan, FSP AUthorChar Ryan, Ph.D., is a PBIS coach, evaluation specialist, and Minnesota State SWIS (Schoolwide Information Systems) trainer. She is also a licensed psychologist and consultant with the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health. She is a frequent conference presenter and has been published in numerous journals, including Psychology in the Schools.

PBIS Team Handbook from Free Spirit PublishingBeth Baker and Char Ryan are coauthors of The PBIS Team Handbook: Setting Expectations and Building Positive Behavior.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

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Cultivate a Culture of Integrity in Your Classroom

By Andrew Hawk

Cultivate a Culture of Integrity in Your ClassroomToward the end of my last methods of teaching class for my bachelor’s degree, the professor delivered a lecture on community expectations for teachers. During this lecture, she reinforced what many of us already knew: Teachers are expected to be moral exemplars in their communities. Wherever a teacher goes, he or she is representing his or her school. In addition to being moral exemplars, teachers are expected to instill in their students a sense of integrity. To accomplish this, some schools go so far as to include an ethics program in their curriculum. Here are some ideas that I hope will help you cultivate a culture of integrity in your classroom.

Model, Model, Model
This goes without saying. Modeling expectations is one of the most effective ways to demonstrate them to students. A few years ago, I overslept and arrived in my classroom at the same time as my students. It was obvious to them that I was late. One student asked me if I would get in trouble. A second chimed in that maybe the principal had not realized that I was late, and the event could go undetected. I took a moment to tell the class that, yes, I was late; that sometimes adults, including teachers, make mistakes; and that I would be telling our principal about my tardiness for no reason other than it is the right thing to do. Sometimes, as a teacher, it is not easy to admit to your students that you, too, are human, but when they see you acting with integrity when no one is looking, it will help them internalize the trait.

Do Not Shame Students
Young people of all ages are impulsive. The part of the human brain that controls impulsive behavior is not completely formed until a person is in her or his early twenties. This being so, even the most well-behaved child may at some point indulge in unscrupulous behavior while acting on impulse. If I catch a student lying, cheating, or taking part in some other undesired behavior, I first try to address the cause of the behavior. From there, I explain the current consequences and preview the consequences for future offenses. I finish by telling the student that she or he has an opportunity to learn from the mistake and make better choices in the future.

Statements that shame students often cause resentment toward the teacher. It is hard for students to learn anything from someone they resent. I have heard colleagues say things like, “I know I am doing a good job because my students don’t like me.” This cliché is unnecessary in the world of teaching. Teachers can reprimand students in a way that corrects behavior and still shows respect for the student.

Tread Lightly When Speaking About Behavior
Chances are good that at some point you will have a student who has a family member who has had a run-in with law enforcement. For this reason, you should tread lightly when speaking about these topics. I always tell my students that a good person can make a bad decision. It is okay to call behavior bad, but stating that people are bad can have a negative impact on student learning. These types of statements can cause some students to feel separated from their teacher. Once a student feels this separation, there will likely be a dip in learning as well.

Teach Integrity Directly Using Read-Alouds
There are many excellent picture books that can be used to teach integrity. Additionally, many websites offer free integrity-based lesson plans to go with books. A quick Internet search should produce a decent list of books and websites you can try.

Integrate Wherever Possible
If your weekly story has a prime example of someone displaying integrity, discuss this with your students. When you are studying history and you come upon someone acting with or without integrity, call students’ attention to the act. Regular school curriculum offers many opportunities to discuss integrity and the inner strength it takes to display it.

Role Plays
Role playing is a great way to help young people work through what a situation might feel like and how they should respond. If students have already been walked through the steps for correct behavior, they are more likely to use the desired behavior in real-life situations. Do an Internet search for role-playing scenarios, or write some yourself.

Catch Your Students in the Act
Never pass up an opportunity to applaud a student for acting with integrity. Positive recognition will reinforce the behavioral expectations for the entire group. If you have students who would be embarrassed by public recognition, take them to the side and tell them that you are proud of them.

Make an Integrity Collage
Choose a space in your classroom and dedicate it to displaying examples of integrity. These examples could be pictures of people, quotes, or motivational phrases. This space will serve as a reminder to your students that you expect them to act with integrity, and it could help teach them about the meaning of integrity.

Andrew HawkAndrew Hawk has worked in public education for fourteen years, starting as a teaching assistant in a special education classroom. He has taught first, second, and fifth grade as a classroom teacher, and for the past three years, has worked as a resource room teacher, providing services for fourth and fifth graders. Working as a special education teacher has given him the opportunity to work with a variety of age groups and exceptionalities. In 2011, he earned his master’s degree in special education from Western Governor’s University. When Andrew is not preparing for school, he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

Suggested Resources
Stand Tall! A book about integrity
I Didn’t Do It! A book about telling the truth
Be Honest and Tell the Truth

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The Parent-Teacher Connection: Nine Strategies for Building Relationships with Your Students’ Parents

By Shannon Anderson, author of Coasting Casey

The Parent-Teacher Connection: Nine Strategies for Building Relationships with Your Students’ ParentsConnecting with parents and creating positive relationships with them is definitely one of the top priorities for ensuring a successful school year. There are many ways to make these connections. When you show parents that you care about their children, they will be more likely to partner with you and support you when needs arise throughout the year. Parents need to know you want the best for their child, not only academically, but also socially and emotionally. Try these strategies to help build your parent-teacher relationships:

  • A couple of weeks before school starts, send your students a letter in the mail telling them how excited you are to meet them. Include a letter to the parents with important information such as the school supply list, academic calendar, and a survey about their child. This survey could include questions like: How does your child feel about school? What are his or her favorite kinds of books? How would you describe your child’s personality/behavior? Does your child have a special hobby or play a sport?
  • Have both a Meet the Teacher Night and a Parent Night. Meet the Teacher Night is for the students to meet you a day or two before school starts, see the classroom, bring in their supplies, and relieve some of those first-day jitters. Parent Night is for you to introduce yourself to parents and go over classroom expectations, homework, and projects for the year.
  • Invite parents to come in as often as possible. If students are doing any kind of presentation, invite parents to come and watch. If you are having a class party or field trip, ask for parent volunteers. Parents love to feel included and involved in their child’s home away from home. I also ask parents to come in and share about their careers and/or hobbies with our class.
  • Hold parent conferences at least twice a year. My school holds traditional parent conferences in the winter, and then I have student-led conferences in the spring. Student-led conferences are run by the kids. They talk to their parents about their grades and progress toward goals. I’m there to coach kids and answer any questions.
  • Communicate consistently. I send home a newsletter every Friday. It may have highlights from our week, upcoming events, and important information for parents. I send the letter through email and provide a hard copy for every student. This ensures that parents receive it! If I’m going to take the time to write a letter every week, I want parents to read it. It helps that I include photos of the kids. Parents like to see those.
  • Maintain a website and reminder system. Keep a teacher website that parents can visit for information and use a texting system, such as, to send text reminders for important happenings. If there is a pajama day at school or book orders are due the next day, I send a reminder to all of my students’ parents. It is a convenient way to help busy parents stay in the know.
  • Join and participate in parent-teacher organizations and help out at the events. If there is a special school function, like “Muffins with Moms” or “Donuts with Dads,” go in to mingle and say hello.
  • Create special events or projects that involve parents. For example, I have parents secretly decorate students’ lockers midyear. I send home a sealed “Secret Mission” envelope explaining the Locker Love project and give the dimensions and photo examples of the lockers. Most parents come up with inspirational sayings and pictures and decorate their child’s name in big letters. I pick a night that parents can come in and help me hang up all the decorations. The kids are so surprised and excited the next day when they see what their parents did to the lockers. They keep the decorations up the rest of the year.
  • At the end of the year, send a parent feedback survey. It can be scary to put yourself out there, but it is so helpful to learn what your parents liked best about your teaching and classroom management styles, and what they suggest you change. I always grow professionally when I read their ideas, and parents appreciate that you want to be your best.

Parents are valuable partners in your students’ education. You can learn a lot about how to meet your students’ needs when parents communicate with you. I’m sure there are many other wonderful ideas for connecting with parents. Feel free to suggest any ideas you have in the comments!

Shannon Anderson, author of Penelope PerfectShannon Anderson has her master’s degree in education and is a literacy coach, high ability coordinator, adjunct professor, and former first-grade teacher. She loves spending time with her family, playing with words, teaching kids and adults, running very early in the morning, traveling to new places, and eating ice cream. She also enjoys doing author visits and events. Shannon lives in Indiana with her husband Matt and their daughters Emily and Madison.

Free Spirit books by Shannon Anderson:

Coasting Casey Penelope Perfect: A Tale of Perfectionism Gone Wild

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2017 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.

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