Every school around the country has one foot on the gas, one eye looking at the rear view and one eye looking straight ahead. It’s what great schools do when you are in the last nine weeks. You have to keep your foot on the gas because we all feel this precious thing we call time slipping away on the current school year and we all feel as if there is still so much to accomplish. You have to have one eye looking at the rear view, reflecting back on what has worked well, what you want to keep doing and what you want to try next year. While it seems like an insurmountable task to reflect at a time like this, I believe it is really the best time of year to reflect because everything is fresh on your mind. Then, we have to keep one eye looking straight ahead because before you know it, this school year will be over and the next one will be knocking on your door.
For me, looking straight ahead includes hiring teacher candidates for the vacancies you know exist for the upcoming school year. Now is the time to find the best candidates. Waiting until it is convenient, may mean waiting until it is too late. There are many things that are principals must do well to be successful, but the most important thing…in my opinion, is being able to hire the right teachers. I have shared a few thoughts this spring about hiring and my opinions about what I am looking for in a teacher, but today I was reminded of some valuable lessons.
Check out my earlier posts about hiring:
Today I was reminded of three things, as we were able to hire three teachers for the upcoming school year.
1. Take Your Time – There are a lot and I mean a lot of candidates out there. Some are amazing and some, well…let’s just say teaching is not for everyone and then there are some that fall somewhere in between. I want the best. Sometime you do not know who the best are until you have had something to compare it to. We have been interviewing for a particular position for some time now and while each candidate has strong characteristics that we would like to add to our team, we just were not confident we had found the right one. We did not settle, we took our time. While it became frustrating at times, because we were spending so much time interviewing and finding bits and pieces of what we were looking for, it paid off. Today, we found just the right teacher. The best part? She “wanted” to work at Sigler.
2. Trust Your People – I do not do interviews alone. Teams are invited to join me in interviewing candidates. I would have a hard time hiring someone who the team is not 100% invested in. Throughout the process of interviewing candidates, I openly seek feedback and input from the team of teachers that is sitting in the interview with me. While they are interested in what I think, I always allow them to share before me. Over time, our interests and vision for “who” we are looking for has aligned, but we still need to seek input. The important part of seeking input is that trust has been developed so our current teachers can speak freely, share their thoughts, and not be worried about whether or not their thoughts align with mine. Most of the time they do, but recently their ability to speak freely and share what they think have led us to hiring some teachers and not hiring others.
3. Listen to Your People – Along the same lines of trusting those who are interviewing candidates with you comes listening to them. It is one thing for trust to be established, so teacher feel free to share their thoughts, but if you are not willing to listen to them and I mean really listen, the trust will not be around for long. As I arrived at work this morning, we had all but agreed we would hire a teacher today. One staff member had some reservations. Because trust has been established, she was able to feel she could share her thoughts and I listened. Our dialogue led to us bringing a candidate back in for a 2nd interview, asking some additional questions…things that had come up through our discussion, prompted by my willingness to listen and the trust the teacher felt in sharing. The 2nd interview was insightful. The reservations the teacher had became more obvious and steered us clear of hiring a teacher who may not have been in our students’ best interest.
Did you catch those last three words? When schools are making hiring decisions, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. How will this candidate fit in with the current staff? How will they get a long with the team? Will they bring new ideas? Will they make our staff stronger? The list could go on and on, but the most important factor, we must take into consideration is, is hiring this teacher in the students’ best interest.
What was your moment today?