During the pandemic, and even before, significant teacher turnover has led to a shortage of teachers in a number of states and districts nationwide. As a result, administrators are looking for solutions to solidify their faculty and continue delivering a high-quality education to all learners. One such solution comes in the form of updating and improving our hiring practices to account for the needs of our schools along with the qualities possessed by today’s young educators. Three practical strategies are shared in this blog post from education leaders Barbara Blackburn and Ronald Williamson, which previously was published on edCircuit.
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3 Strategies for Hiring New Teachers
By Barbara Blackburn and Ronald Williamson
Hiring and retaining the right personnel is one of the most important parts of a principal’s job. When you have quality staff, your job as a leader is easier. When you have staff members who are uncooperative or ineffective, working with them can drain your time and energy. We’re going to look at three strategies for finding the right people for your school.1. Understand New Teachers
Baby Boomer teachers, who dominated American society for a generation are rapidly retiring and being replaced by members of a new generation, referred to as Generation Y, one that holds very different beliefs about work, and about the workplace and the way principals work with them (Coggins, 2008). You’ll want to consider these characteristics as you interview and hire teachers from Generation Y.
2. Understand and Apply the Basics
Hiring staff is often guided by district policy. The first thing you want to do is to check with your Human Resource Department about any procedures you must follow. This often includes developing a job description and list of duties.
As you hire, it’s important to standardize the hiring process. Following a standard process ensures that you will treat everyone who applies in a uniform manner. Your district may have some of these procedures in place. If not, you will need to create them for your school.
First, develop your selection criteria. Each criterion should be relevant to the work to be performed and should be free of bias so that everyone is treated the same throughout the process. If you need someone who is bilingual, include that on your list. However, as you plan, differentiate between those skills or characteristics that are required and those that are simply desirable. All criteria must be relevant to the work, but you are likely to have some non-negotiable items and some that you would like to have. Make sure you have addressed relevant employment discrimination laws and that you always document thoroughly. All criteria should be available for review.
3. Interview Correctly
Finally, create and use a protocol for interviews. The questions should be linked to your selection criteria, and they should be open-ended so as to provide in-depth information about the candidate. You might consider questions such as, “What do you see as your strengths related to this position?” “As you think about your past work experience, what has been your biggest challenge?” “Imagine you were offered the position and accepted it, and it is one year later. What was the best part of your first year, and what was your biggest challenge?” After you draft your questions, assess them to be sure you avoid any questions that are unlawful.
Remember, follow your process. In some cases, you may realize early in the interview that a person is not the best fit for the job. However, respect the candidate and the process and finish the interview. After you hire someone, be sure to send a written follow-up note to all candidates, notifying them that they did not get the job and thanking them for their interest in the position. A little courtesy goes a long way at this point; it never hurts to be nice, even to those you aren’t hiring.
Hiring teachers is a critical part of a principal’s job. You want to find the right people—ones that fit into the mission and vision of your school. Understanding new Generation Y teachers, the basics of hiring, and the aspects of interviewing will ensure you are successful.
About the Authors
Barbara Blackburn was named one of the Top 30 Global Gurus in Education in 2016, 2017, and 2018. She is a best-selling author of 18 books including Rigor is NOT a Four-Letter Word and Motivating Struggling Learners: 10 Ways to Build Student Success. An internationally recognized expert in the areas of instruction, rigor, student motivation, and leadership, she collaborates with schools and districts for professional development on-site and via technology. Barbara can be reached through her website.
Dr. Ronald Williamson teaches courses in the principalship, school law, ethics and politics of education. He previously worked as a building level and central office school administrator in Michigan, as Executive Director of the National Middle School Association, a member of NASSP’s Middle-Level Council and President of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, a coalition of all the major professional organizations serving middle schools. Dr. Williamson is the recipient of the Gruhn-Long-Melton award from NASSP in recognition of lifetime achievement in middle-level leadership, the Teaching Excellence Award from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and the Alumni Teaching Excellence Award at Eastern Michigan University. The author of over 150 books, chapters, papers and articles in all the major professional journals serving school teachers and administrators, Dr. Williamson is recognized as one of the major advocates and researchers in the field of middle-level schools. Visit his website.
A version of this article was originally published on edCircuit