Hiring the Best Educator
I like reading about innovative hiring & recruitment tactics because I see hiring as one of the greatest responsibilities of a manager and one of the most terrifying. We don’t hire so often in schools that it can ever become a routine, yet there’s an enormous amount riding on every employment decision. I just found 3 tips in this Fast Company post: “Weird Hiring Tactics That ‘Just Work’…”
The first is “inbound hiring”: hiring those who initiate contact with the employer, usually not seeking employment, and show their stuff before being offered a position. It makes sense that an organic process of getting to know someone and their work ethic would be effective for selecting the right team member. The second strategy dovetails with the first: hiring to part-time first.
In both cases, the culture of an organization attracts a candidate, tests their resolve through a process that leaves them un- or underemployed, and seems to reward them with full access after the introductory process. These processes also allow the candidate ample opportunity to determine if they fit the mission, the organization, or the field before they commit to full-time employment.
Education does not have an analogous opportunity. We are restricted from offering a thorough trial by our contracts & staffing roles. The closest we have is to hire instructional aides and substitute teachers as classroom teachers, promoting them to better-paying positions with more direct responsibility.
That is something we try to do often at my school & in my district, and it typically results in our best hiring decisions. Aides and substitutes who have made themselves stand out by contributing the extra effort to modify a unit or reteach a lesson, to join the 4-square game at recess or start an after-school activity; these are the folks who get recommended for their own classrooms.
It’s too bad there aren’t more opportunities to hire in innovative ways. If our district had full-time curriculum coaches, maybe they could support and observe cohorts of part-time teachers, with additional observation from department heads, team colleagues, and building administrators. That way, a “hiring tribunal” could make informed decisions. We would more often identify people who just know how to answer interview questions but don’t necessarily speak their mind. We would warn away those who think teaching is all about a “cushy schedule” and never adopt the educational mission.
The third tactic in this article is to allow flexible scheduling (& unrestricted vacations!) for new employees, giving them free rein to complete goals. Since new hires typically want to make an impression, they won’t abuse these privileges, they contend. Well, we don’t have much schedule liberty, but we certainly give our teachers an enormous amount of independent responsibility immediately after hire. They are sent into a classroom with never-enough supervision and they learn more by practicing– and making mistakes– than they ever will in a teacher prep program. A more liberal hiring process could offer more support along with this responsibility.
We need to find opportunities to carry the best from other fields into the teaching profession. Innovative hiring offers fertile territory to introduce new teachers to the mission & culture of the school and their larger profession, while also putting them through a more rigorous “testing” period before giving them full responsibility for the education of our students.
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