“What do you look for when hiring a new teacher?”
I was recently asked this question, and I had to think before I gave an initial response.
I wanted a quick and easy way to respond to this question, because the real answer is pretty complicated. After walking away from the conversation, I began to give the subject more thought. I determined that my answer was not a good one, and that when asked the same question in the future, I would need to provide a better answer. After all, hiring great teachers is one of the most important things we do.
If I needed a better answer, then I would have to carefully consider another question:
What SHOULD we look for when hiring?
It seems as if many in education look for standard answers from applicants about classroom management and discipline, lesson planning, technology usage, and pedagogy.
Should we consider creativity or innovation when hiring a teacher?
How about resourcefulness or imagination?
In looking for standard answers, we have been looking for teachers who are willing to fit into a system that has not changed in many years. Now, more than ever, our students and classrooms are changing, and therefore, we need to reconsider the teachers we are hiring to work in these situations.
Consider the following interview exchange between administrator and potential teacher:
Administrator: What does an effective lesson look like?
Teaching Candidate: An effective lesson is one in which students are engaged, formative assessment is taking place throughout the lesson, and the lesson is differentiated based on student strengths and needs.
While this candidate may have stated some of the key components of an effective lesson, this response does nothing to help the administrator determine whether the teacher brings anything different to the table, any talent or resourcefulness that will make the candidate a great teacher.
We must look for talent. We must explore ways to find candidates who are different. We must reconsider the questions we ask of potential teachers in order to find people who are truly talented. When we find those truly talented people, we must hire them, instead of choosing candidates who will fit into our standard system.
So now, I have a different answer to the question, “What do you look for when hiring a new teacher?”
I want teachers who are going to be resourceful…
who are going to model imagination and innovation for their students…
who are going to bring their talents to their students…
who are going to inspire…
who are going to make and create…
and solve problems…
Let’s start the conversation. How can we better consider talent in education? Add your thoughts in the comments section below.