Who are you looking for?

Posted: December 7, 2010 in The Teacher
Tags: , , , , ,

Dear Administrators,

The recruiting season is just around the corner. This is an exciting and stressful time for all involved.

Over the past few weeks we have been looking into what characteristics students, parents & teachers look for in teachers.

This week we are asking administrators what characteristics they are looking for in teachers when they are interviewing.

Hopefully through these posts we will be able to highlight the areas we value in teachers and this will help to focus discussions during this time of year.

Leave your thoughts in a comment below.

Free School Child Choosing Aqua Blue Colored Pencil (unedited) Creative Commons

  1. David Truss says:

    I appreciate you asking me to put my “2 dimes worth” 😉 in on this topic, but I’ve actually never hired a teacher before. So, I will default to people smarter and more experienced than me in order to meaningfully reply to you here:
    Chirs Lehmann’s What makes a great teacher?
    and then,
    Jeff Utecht’s Interview questions for International School Job Fairs
    Hope this helps,

  2. Peter C. Mott says:

    – teachers with a documented record of excellence in teaching
    – individuals who genuinely LIKE kids! (should be obvious, but…..)
    – teachers with a solid academic background (I prefer MA degrees in a subject area rather than a “Masters of Education” or “Masters of Administration” etc.!)
    – teachers with a record of innovative pedagogy (technology integration!) and curriculum development
    – team players; flexible people whose “work ethic” is not marred by “union thinking”
    – a healthy mixture of younger, older, married, single etc. individuals
    – basically: thinking, intelligent people who let me “feel” and “see” what happens in their classroom and how they work with kids rather than boring me with textbook answers and jargon; if I don’t feel excited in their presence, I won’t hire them!

  3. Do they have a “fire in their belly” for teaching? Can they provide specific examples of how they learned from their teaching experiences and used that to improve? Do they see the profession from a student-learning point-of-view or as a stage to put on a performance as a teacher? Do they predominantly answer questions with “we” or “I”; are they collaborative or independent? Do they have experience using technology for self-learning? Can they provide examples of teacher-questions that get at deep learning and understanding? Do they plan their lessons around a bunch of activities to fill time or around the learning objective and assessment measures? Are they aware enough to know they do not know what they do not know?

  4. The first thing I want to see in a teacher candidate is a passion for students. I want to be able to hear in their voice and see from experiences they have had that they are committed to impacting the lives of students. Along with this, it is imperative that we get a sense of strong interpersonal skills and someone that wants to be part of a community of learners.

    Next, I want to see a strong handle on pedagogy. For some this might come first, but strong pedagogy without a passion for students and a motivation to share and grow by sharing with colleagues is not enough in my mind. In this age where we have so many new tools available to us to engage students I want to see candidates who are willing to employ new tools and share the outcomes with colleagues, results that are both good and bad.

    Along this line, I want to see teachers who have integrated technological tools to engage students.

    Those are my top few things that I would look for. I look forward to hearing what others have to say.

    • susan price says:

      This is teaching to the max!!! I couldn’t agree more with you. And, we need more administrators like you who have a passion and genuine interest for and in their staff, a constant support of their staff, an availability to help them excel and an ardent willingness to help them with technology issues. Keep up the great work!!

  5. susan price says:

    This is TEACHING to the fullest, to the max!!! And, we truly need more administrators like you who have a passion for their teachers , an availability and willingness to help them excel, and a constant support of their teachers. Thanks again for all that you do.

  6. Lyn Hilt says:

    I want a teacher who is applying for the position because they want to make a difference in the lives of children, period. I am looking for that passion to shine through in their responses. Other attractive qualities: a desire to continuously learn, willingness to take risks, could serve as a collaborative team member, sense of humor, self-confidence. Teachers can learn technical aspects of their role, various instructional strategies, etc. What can’t be taught is the intrinsic drive to want to serve students!!

  7. I look for the following characteristics when interviewing teaching candidates:

    – someone that has a passion for teaching/working with kids, not a content area
    – knowledge of essential lesson plan components
    – ability to explain how he/she would incorporate research-based pedagogical techniques into their lessons in order to improve student achievement and ensure students are learning
    – knowledge or experience of effective technology integration
    – ability to manage a classroom
    – emphasis on professional growth and improvement
    – ability to differentiate instruction and assessments

  8. wkirkwood says:

    Posted from @ideaguy42 energy, creative thinking, willingness to take risks for kids, huge passion for content, love of things beyond school

  9. Wow. Good question. This could be a long answer.

    In general, when I hire teachers, I use questions from my question bank, built over the years, that I believe will best illustrate the extent to which the interviewees meet criteria in three areas: (1) The ability to develop strong, deep, and effective personal and professional relationships with others (2) The knowledge and skill required to provide effective and engaging instruction, and (3) highly developed emotional intelligence.

    Instruction is the most important factor in student achievement. Within a social setting such as a school, I expect teachers to commit to continuous learning and to working collaboratively with others to attain our school vision. To do that, it is essential that teachers are reflective masters of their own emotions and able to work with all others for the common goal of student achievement. I really like the creative individuals, but it is imperative their work be aligned with the efforts of the rest of the staff. We must work together.


  10. Ji Han says:

    There is so much to consider when hiring. The longer I have spent in recruiting the more I find myself depending on the ‘gut’ or ‘blink’ experience. Rather than asking myself is this person a ‘great teacher’ when speaking to a candidate I ask myself questions like, how will this person fit into our current team? What is their connection to students and learning? How good are they at adjusting to change? What are they passionate about? How do they cope with challenge? How well do they work with others? Assuming that the candidate has the necessary degrees and a reasonable amount of experience, I find the ‘soft’ factors have led to more success in the long run for how well a teacher does. An important factor that cannot be overlooked is the quality and content of their references. There is no perfect recipe for recruitment success, however I believe the better you can get to know the person, the higher the changes of a successful experience for the teacher and the school.

  11. Naini Singh says:

    A great teacher….lots of energy , creativity, able to reason and with a great sense of humour. Williing to make mistakes and take a back seat and allow students to take charge.

  12. Dave Meister says:

    The most important part of a building principal’s job is to build the staff. Hiring the right people is paramount to creating the best learning environment for our students. I am looking for a teacher that is people centered and relates well to young people as well as adults. I want a teacher who can connect with others, both in the building and outside of it to build the best learning opportunities for the students. I want a learner not a subject expert.

  13. Karen Szymusiak says:

    The hiring process is so critical to the culture of a school. When I am considering a candidate I don’t worry so much about those things that can be taught/learned (classroom management, content knowledge, lesson planning, etc.). It’s nice if those skills are in place but I care more strongly about other qualities. I want to know that they are in this for the kids – that they believe they can make a difference in kids’ learning lives. I want to hear how they will go about building relationships with their students and colleagues because I feel so strongly that relationships can make anything possible. I also want to know that they are looking for a place to teach that values collaboration and continuous learning. I am always curious about their latest learning – a professional book, online resources, social networking, web 2.0. A willingness to integrate technology would be important. I would hope that they can motivate and engage kids – maybe ask for some examples. I favor candidates who are willing to take initiative – and have potential to be leaders. I want them to be curious about student learning and willing to dig deep to understand the barriers to student learning. I favor candidates who sort of live on the edges of innovation. I am not looking for someone who always does what has always been done in education. I want to hire candidates who are so passionate about students that every decision that is made it based on what is right for kids. I want a candidate who is always willing to listen to children, respect them as learners, and believes in their potential.

  14. Dave says:

    I look to see if they understand the basic components of teaching. I also want to know what they can bring to the school outside of the classroom – extra-curricular, etc. These type of people, especially coaches, can help your school’s culture a great deal. During the interview, I do not ask a lot of questions regarding their education, etc. I can find that on the resume. I want to get to know the person. Do they share similar philosophies as me? My staff? How will their attitude and demeanour mix with my staff? All are very important. Obviously, good references are important, especially in the classroom management area.

  15. wkirkwood says:

    Posted for @DeronDurflinger – Flexible, adaptable, risk-takers, learners, thinkers, problem solvers, teachers who are student centered, collaborative

  16. Mark says:

    Although not in a position to hire staff myself, I have the pleasure of meeting many prospective teachers and am learning about choosing the right fit for our school. Attitude, personality and warmth are all important. I guess that a proven track record, backed up with solid references is essential. Matching potential candidates to the existing team is important.

    Lots to think about!!

  17. If I was in the position of recruiting I would want to see a portfolio of what the teacher does in the classroom. What are some exhibits of their best practice. For some teachers this may be a reflective blog or just a PDF of resources. I think this would be really important for a good 1:1 educator

  18. James MacDonald says:

    What an interesting post!

    There is so much that could be listed but some of the keys for us: sincere love for being a teacher and working with kids, great track record (eg great confidential references are very important), a philosophy in line with our school’s and appropriate subject expertise. If you don’t have all these things, then the we probably won’t go any further. But if you do, then we generally start looking for: ‘tiggers’ not ‘eeyores’, great social skills, lots of extra-curricular involvement and people who will fit in with the teams they will be working on (this is particularly important with the PYP and MYP). On top of this, I personally want people keen to be a part of a bigger dialogue of what a modern international education should be and teachers who apply technology effectively. (By the way, notwithstanding my points below, I look for the glimmer in the eye talking about how technology amplifies teaching and learning, not the glimmer that comes from hardware talk).

    I would add a few more things that shape my thinking. One study from the business world indicated that the two worst predictors of future job performance are, and get this, the resume and the interview. Yikes! Related to this, I have never met a head of school that rated themselves below average in recruiting. So, for what it is worth, I try to think of myself as quite fallible as an interviewer. Finally, and this cannot be overstated, we all know that while we set up the interviews and can offer the contracts, we are being interviewed by all of you too! How we present ourselves, the questions we ask and the way we treat people is really important if we are to attract top teachers into our schools. So I have a suggestion for your next post: Why don’t you ask teachers what they look for in a leader during interview? I would sincerely be interested to hear. Great post and thanks for the opportunity to contribute.

    • wkirkwood says:

      Great point James – it was something we have been talking about here. I guess we will look to post is after the break to get as many thoughts as possible.

      We actually we thinking about this and also the question of what do you look for in a leader (administrator)? So looking beyond just the interview.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts,


  19. Positive Attitude, Commitment and Perseverence, Intelligence, Communication Skills, Experience, Flexibility, Technology Skills, and good Classroom Management. I look for a person who doesn’t give up – who is a problem solver that can think on his/her feet!

  20. Nathan Wear says:

    I know in the first few minutes if I want to hire a teacher. I look immediately for the “passion” and the sense that they will put children first above anything else. I have made some excellent hires by looking for those that will put others first.

    I want a teacher, even if they have only student taught, to be able to point to experiences where they have solved a problem, collaborated with colleagues, or applied some type of action research. This shows a teacher that is committed to getting it right without being told to do so.

    Here is a brief list:
    knowledge and able to apply curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
    Be able to answer, “What will you do with kids when they don’t or can’t learn?
    Strong communicator
    Strong references- especially from other administrators. Every college professor has something good to say but would the principal that you student taught with recommend you or hire you if you had an opening.
    Loves kids!

  21. Jeremy Keesee says:

    The teacher must be child center and empathic of all their student’s home lives. They must be motivated to go the extra mile to develop a good rapport with their students and to reach them. Finding a way to meet their needs is more important than what they teach.

  22. […] issues raised during the discussion about what administrators look for when hiring were very thought provoking. Administrators from […]

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