Friday, 10 January 2014

Recruitment time!

It's that time of year already (it always seems to roll around so quickly after the new year begins) when I need to recruit and employ new teachers for the 2014/15 academic year. It is important to me that we have great teachers- but how is this achieved?

Current teachers need to give me their notice by the beginning of January if they intend to resign at the end of the current academic year. Some teachers leave during the school year, as has happened this year and so these vacancies are filled on a temporary basis until the main recruitment round when permanent appointments are made.

Once I know who is leaving, I then ask the other teachers for their class preference placements for the coming academic year. Some teachers, especially those fairly new to the profession, like to move to other levels to round out their teaching experience and gain an understanding of the developmental stages of learning and I believe that it is important to allow for this.

I also look for any gaps in skills or abilities that we might have because of the vacancies eg do we need someone who has a particular strength in a curriculum area or can coach netball, for example?

In this way, I build a propfile of the type of teaching experience and skills that I need to find teachers for. I can shortlist, question and appoint with this profile in mind.

All of the applications come in online. I work through each of them, looking for the teachers that in my opinion are the best fit. I look for experienced teachers, an understanding of inquiry, assessment and differentiation, as well as that 'x factor', that personal voice that makes me think they would fit in well with our school.

It is demanding work, I look at around 300-400 CVs in a very short space of time, around two weeks.
I mark electronically the applications for a 'long list' which I then circulate to the SLT or other leaders involved for their comment and input. We then have a system where we mark these CVs for a short list and then referees are called, which may then change the shortlist depending on the results. I also always ring the referees of selected candidates, just to get that personal feel of the information, I can ask further questions and really assure myself of the candidate's suitability for the job.

Each primary principal is in a team of three for interviewing purposes, based either in Hong Kong or in London. Each panel then interviews around eight candidates per day over a two week period, each interview lasting 30-40 minutes long. After each interview, which is videoed so that the other principals can see it if they wish, the interview is discussed in detail and candidates are given a rating based on their answers- not suitable, competent or highly competent. Once the interview rounds are over, the principals meet as a group to decide who they want to hire and a phone call is placed to the successful candidate. Phew! It is always a good feeling to get to this stage after a fairly heavy month!

I mentioned the 'X factor' above and although hard to qualify, these are the sorts of things I try to get a feel for in candidates:
  • They see teaching as a profession, or even better, a vocation, rather than just 'a job'. They love teaching and they understand that teaching is an art and are willing to put the time into crafting and perfecting that art i.e. long hours!
  • They have evidence of an effective classroom style
  • They are able to form positive relations- not just with students, but with adults as well
  • They have a track record of consistent excellence- this is where referee reports become valuable!
  • They have in depth content knowledge
  • They can demonstrate expert use of instructional methods
  • They have the capacity for growth, they see themselves as learners
  • They have steadiness of purpose and teaching personality
It is so important to make the utmost effort to get the best teachers possible. Teaching is an incredibly and usually underestimated complex act. Danielson (1996) estimates that a teacher makes more than 3,000 nontrivial decisions every day. No list can capture the extraordinary subtlety involved in making instant decisions about which student to call on, how to frame an impromptu question, or how to respond to an interruption. The late Madeline Hunter compared teaching to surgery, “where you think fast on your feet and do the best you can with the information you have. You must be very skilled, very knowledgeable, and exquisitely well trained, because neither the teacher nor the surgeon can say, ‘Everybody sit still until I figure out what in the heck we're gonna do next’ (Goldberg, 1990, p. 43).
Watching a great teacher at the top of their form can be compared to watching a great surgical or artistic performance. Great teaching appears effortless and seamless, but in reality is infinitely difficult and painstakingly planned. It is easy to believe that it is the simplest thing in the world—until you try to do it!
  • Canter, L., & Canter, M. (2002). Assertive discipline: Positive behavior management for today's classroom (3rd ed.). Los Angeles: Lee Canter & Associates.
    Danielson, C. (1996). Enhancing professional practice: A framework for teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
    Goldberg, M. (1990). Portrait of Madeline Hunter. Educational Leadership, 47(5), 41–43.


1 comment:

  1. Great post Mrs Webster. I think this may be your best one yet. I really liked how you broke down the 'x factors'.