How to Hire: An Open Letter to Educational Leaders

Dear Educational Leaders:

I was speaking not too long ago with a former principal of mine. He is now an area superintendent of a large urban school district. Like many school districts we discussed the issues regarding teacher hiring and retention.

He told me that his district had adopted a system where new hires must teach a lesson prior to signing a contract and setting foot in one of the districts classrooms. My thoughts - well, it's about time.

In my experience, especially in "tough to staff" schools, that we practice the "warm body phenomenon". What I mean by that is that too often the applicant pool is quite shallow. Too often we are hiring to get someone in front of those kiddies, instead of practicing a thorough interview process.

The argument that I have heard about the system that my friends district has embraced is that it is too time consuming. We just don't have the time and resources to have all of our applicants teach a lesson in front of interviewers (or better yet, real live students). I ask - why not!?

Time and resources are not a valid argument against this process. Adopting a "teach first, then hire" system will allow us to save time and resources on the back end. We will not longer have to worry about ineffective teachers (as much). We will no longer have to continue to commit time, money, and resources to educators who - well, aren't educators and never will be.

Doctors serve a residency. No licensing board would allow a doc to practice medicine on them without it. However, state education boards allow people to practice education without one. Thanks for the transcripts and your $150 application fee. And POOF... you're a teacher. We need educators coming into the profession to endure a scrutinization (not a word) that we can only dream of before we allow them to teach. (Side note: we need to also re-scrutinize some of those already in the classroom.)

Whether it be a residency, mock lessons, real lessons, or teaching for an interview panel. We all - especially the "hard to staff" schools - need to make time, make resources to ensure that this happens for every what-to-be educator. It is a must.

More to come...

Mike Meechin, M. Ed.

For more information about Mike Meechin and Innovate Education, LLC. professional development please visit: www.innovateedu.org.


Sarah said...

I have a friend who was hired last year at a charter school and he was required to do a lesson in front of interviewers AND students as part of the interview requirement. I was impressed. I hope to see this more in the mainstream schools too!

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