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