Last week I had the opportunity to attend a local university's career fair for the students who are in their fifth-year master's program in education. These students already have an undergraduate degree (and in some cases advanced degrees outside the field of education), many of whom had already worked "in the real world" in another career. As the representative for our school system, I got to do 15-minute "screening interviews" for candidates in elementary education through the secondary level.
In schools across the country, teacher turnover and hiring is either taking place or is about to take place. In our school, our principal will be talking soon with our superintendent about course enrollment numbers (based on course selection by our students) which will have an impact on staffing. Also around this time, teachers announce retirements, make decisions to stay home with children, move due to spouse's job transfer, and other reasons. Occasionally, teachers' contracts are non-renewed. All of these factors are part of the equation when building a strong team of educators.
When hiring or assigning teachers to classes, it's important to build upon a person's strengths in order to have the greatest positive benefit for the students he/she serves. It's also important to create a diverse staff with different strengths and abilities. Coaches understand the importance of having players with different strengths and abilities due to the different requirements demanded of each position. All positions are important and lead to a team performing well and reaching a goal together.
At the high school level, several factors are considered when hiring or changing a teaching assignment:
- Does the teacher understand (or want to or have potential to) understand the developmental characteristics of the grade level he/she would be teaching?
- Does the teacher have the desire to be a champion for his/her students
- How does the teacher fit in with the current team/department/content area?
- Will a change make the TEAM better or stronger overall?
- Does the teacher believe in himself/herself that he/she can work with struggling students to the point where the students will be successful?
The comic below shows how I feel about choosing teachers for different courses. While all teachers are working with high school students, it doesn't mean that every teacher can bring out the best in students from 9th grade to 12th grade or IB/AP through inclusion classes.
Each teacher has individual strengths that should be used to bring out the best in students in each setting. This means that a leader needs to know the strengths of each person on his/her team so that when new members are added, those who will compliment and fortify the current team are sought after.
How does your school use teacher strengths to build an excellent team?
What would you ask potential teachers in order to discover their strengths?