Posts Tagged With: hiring teachers

Great Teachers = Great Schools. That’s It.

“If you don’t have great teachers, you don’t have a great school and nothing else is going to change that.” – Todd Whitaker, What Great Teachers Do Differently.”

At an orientation earlier this week we welcomed 45 new teachers into our District. What a great day it was after spending 8 months recruiting and hiring the best teacher candidates we could find from Universities and Colleges across our country. This year we decided to keep the day short so we wouldn’t overwhelm our new recruits, so the day (which only went from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.) included welcomes and introductions, a meal, a payroll/benefits presentation, and an explanation of our new teacher website, which replaced the 2 inch thick binder we’ve handed out in the past. Our gift to them as they left was Todd Whitaker‘s book, What Great Teachers Do Differently, which we strongly encouraged each of them read before the first day of school. During our two hours together I was continually reminded of the importance of identifying and hiring the best possible teachers and then powerfully supporting them throughout their career.

A week earlier I attended a presentation by Professor John Hattie and his team who have completed extensive research on the influences on student learning. His Visible Learning research suggests that most everything we do influences student learning. The average effect size is .40 so suffice to say, if strategies from the following list are present in our schools, we will be on the right path.

Hattie-ranking - summary

Hattie’s Top Influences on Student Achievement

This has me reflecting a lot about the 45 teachers who have joined our #GPCSD team. I believe we’ve hired some great young teachers and I would argue that most every strategy identified on this list could be replaced with the words “great teaching.” Lets take a closer look at the top 10:

Self-Report Grades – This strategy involves the teacher finding out what are the student’s expectations and pushing the learner to exceed these expectations. Once a student has performed at a level that is beyond their own expectations, he or she gains confidence in his or her learning ability.

Piagetian Programs – These programs focus on the thinking processes rather than the outcomes and do not impose the adult thinking process on children. This is done when the teacher creates and provides engaging and relevant learning experiences.

Providing Formative Evaluation – The goal of formative assessment is to monitor student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by teachers to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning.

Micro Teaching – This involves the teacher video recording a lesson with a debriefing. The lesson is reviewed in order to improve the teaching and learning experience.

Acceleration – Great teachers know how to accelerate learning for their students (not just enrich). They understand that if students are able to move on to higher levels of curriculum we should not be holding them back. Perhaps another case for moving away from grouping our students by age.

Classroom Behavioural  – The best teachers build trusting relationships with their students. If they don’t know that you care, they won’t care what you know.

Comprehensive Intervention for Learning Disabled – To improve achievement teachers must provide students with tools and strategies to organize themselves as well as new material; techniques to use while reading, writing, and doing math; and systematic steps to follow when working through a learning task or reflecting upon their own learning.

Teacher Clarity – Excellent teachers clearly communicate the intentions of the lessons and the success criteria to their students. Teachers need to know the goals and success criteria of their lessons, know how well all students in their class are progressing, and know where to go next.

Reciprocal Teaching – This refers to an instructional activity in which students become the teacher in small group sessions. Teachers model, then help students learn to guide group discussions. Once students have learned the strategies, they take turns assuming the role of teacher in leading a dialogue.

Feedback – Hattie emphasizes that the most powerful feedback is that given from the student to the teacher. This feedback allows teachers to see learning through the eyes of their students. It makes learning visible and facilitates the planning of next steps. The feedback that students receive from their teachers is also vital. It enables students to progress towards challenging learning intentions and goals.

So in my opinion education researchers and authors like John Hattie and Todd Whitaker have it right. Our most important work is in supporting the right people doing the right work. If we place our energy and resources behind this simple concept, visible learning and teaching will become the norm.

Who are we looking for when we recruit?

What are our expectations of them?

How are we welcoming them into our District?

How are we supporting them throughout their career?



Categories: Capacity Building, Education Transformation, Human Resources | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

You Weren’t Hired To Maintain The Status Quo

Dr. Justin Tarte is one of the most influential people I follow on Twitter. He continuously shares relevant material that both reinforces and challenges my thinking. If you don’t mind, Justin, I would like to borrow this powerful quote you shared as part of some very important work I will be carrying out over the next few days. UnknownMy plan is to visit a number of teachers in my district to personally present them with their continuous contract. A contract they have earned over the last number of months. One that has been recommended by the principal of their school after a year of formal and informal observations. They have, in no small way, proven themselves to be the kind of teacher we are ready to commit to for the rest of their career and I want to remind them that this is a big deal. After visiting their classroom and observing them teaching one final time this year, not only do I plan to present them with a copy of Justin’s quote, I will share a few other thoughts as well:

  1. We are offering you this contract because we see you as a forward thinking and innovative teacher who will do whatever is necessary to help your students experience success.
  2. We are offering you this contract because you are a risk-taker, always pushing the envelope with your teaching.
  3. We are offering you this contract because you have a growth mindset.
  4. We are offering you this contract because it is evident that you see the value in collaboration, constantly building your own capacity and that of your colleagues.
  5. We are offering you this contract because you have shown us that you know how to meet the needs of all learners, making the learning experience relevant to them.
  6. I encourage you to continue the development of your digital portfolio. It will assist you in identifying areas in which you excel as well as areas in which you could continue to grow. It will also provide you with a body of evidence on which you can continuously reflect.
  7. We are offering you this contract because it is obvious that you love children, and that they love you.
  8. We’re counting on you and so are your students.

I could have sent the contract out via our inter-school mail system, but I want each of them to know that the decision to offer a continuous contract is a very difficult one that requires a great deal of conversation and reflection. So I’m going to take the time to go to them. As Superintendent Karl Germann says, it is like offering “a million dollar contract.”

As I near the end of my first year in the role of Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources I’ve come to see this as my most important work – inviting the very best teachers to become permanent members of our district family. I hope they will never forget why.

Categories: Capacity Building, Education Transformation, Human Resources | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Teacher Recruitment – Learning From Google

Last week, in an effort to position our district well in the coming year, I embarked on my first ever teacher recruitment tour. Like other districts in the northern part of our country, teacher recruitment has become an important and necessary part of our work, roaming far and wide in search of the best teachers we can find.

As someone new to the HR role I’ve spent a great deal of time researching best practices in order to put an effective recruitment plan in place. My goal was to have a better understanding of what others are doing to recruit the best talent into their organizations. By and large, here are 4 of the most common strategies I discovered:

  1. Attend job fairs
  2. Sell your city / location
  3. Highlight your benefit packages
  4. Offer incentives

Then I asked myself this question. Why would a new teacher want to come and work for us anyway? There must be something more than a good salary, comprehensive benefits, and a good location that lures individuals to a particular employer.  After reflecting on this for awhile, I found the answer on two lists:

This short video might shed some light on why Google consistently tops the list of the best places to work in North America:

So here’s what I think. The best beginning teachers want to work for districts that are innovative and forward thinking. They want to work for districts that have built a culture that supports hard work, risk taking, new ideas, and collaboration. They want to be part of something that is going to make a real difference in the lives of kids.


So when our recruitment team arrived on the East Coast a few days back we were armed with this message —-> Instead of telling these pre-service teachers what we could do for them if they joined our district, we asked them what they could do for us. Instead of showing them the list of contract benefits, we informed them that we were only looking for those who were ready and willing to work really hard. Instead of sharing incentives, we asked them how they would contribute to our high performing district. We showcased our technology rich environments, our school improvement initiatives, our mentorship program, and our innovative programming. We talked about the kind of teacher they would need to be if they were hoping to come and work with us.

After chatting with and receiving resumes from nearly 200 individuals, we then identified about 25-30 and invited them for a short 15 minute interview, where we asked them to respond to the following 4 questions:

  1. How will you make our district better?
  2. How will you respond to and utilize the innovative and hard working mentor that will be paired with you?
  3. How will you respond to constructive feedback?
  4. Please share your thoughts on education, technology and student learning.

It was an enlightening experience and we have been inundated with phone calls, Skype calls and emailsIMG_0095 since returning home. It seems as though our strategy worked. Selling our culture was the key. The best and the brightest pre-service teachers are now recruiting us, many of whom will join our staff in September.

I truly believe that the very best teachers are intrinsically motivated. They want to work for organizations where innovation and risk taking is valued, where collaboration is embedded into the daily culture, and where they are able to contribute in meaningful and lasting ways. As the gate keeper to prospective new teachers in my district, I want that message to be loud and clear.

Google figured this out a long time ago.


Categories: Education Transformation, Human Resources | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Look Teacher Interview

If you’re an educator you’ve most likely been interviewed at some point in your career. The interview, of course, is designed to assist the hiring committee in determining whether or not a particular candidate is the best “fit” for the position being interviewed for. Give or take a few, a teacher has always been able to expect to see this traditional set of questions during an interview.

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you decide to become a teacher?
  • What is your teaching philosophy?
  • What type of classroom management structure would you implement?
  • How have you used, or how will you use, technology in the classroom?
  • Would you be interested in participating in after school activities?
  • Are you a positive and energetic person?
  • What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
  • Explain your assessment practices.
  • Describe your ability to work with others.


These are all good questions but if we really want to hire the kind of teachers needed today, I would like to suggest that we replace at least some of them with the questions listed below. I’ve included my thoughts on why we should ask each question.

Do you consider yourself to be a risk taker? (Give an example to back up your answer.)

We want teachers who are constantly trying new things and learning from their mistakes.

If I were your principal and we were setting goals for next year, what would they be?

We want teachers who are forward thinking and those who are able to articulate a vision of education in the 21st century.

What is the last educational book you read? Why that book?

We want teachers who are continually honing their craft, using a variety of professional resources to consider new approaches.

If you could create the ideal school, what would it be like?

We want teachers who can envision the schools of tomorrow, ones that align with more engaging and flexible learning environments.

How do you deal with failure? (Your own and that of your students)

We want teachers who are resilient and teachers who build resiliency and a growth mindset in their students.

How will 21st century competencies be developed in your students? (Provide examples both with and without technology)

We want teachers who will prepare students for the world they will enter, designing learning experiences to support the building of important 21st century competencies.

Have you built a Personal Learning Network (PLN)? Why or why not?

We want teachers who are broadening their perspective and learning from colleagues across the hall and throughout the world.

In what ways will you challenge your colleagues and the principals thinking?

We want teachers who are not afraid to challenge the status quo and able to stretch the thinking of others.

How will you differentiate instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners in your class?

We want teachers who can find ways to meet the ever growing diverse needs in todays classrooms.

Take 10 minutes to prepare yourself to lead the interview panel in a conversation about an emerging educational topic of your choosing.

We want teachers who are ever looking for way to improve the educational journey of their students and teachers who can support and defend their ideas with sound research and judgement.

My father always told me, “Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.” As far as I’m concerned the teacher interview is a perfect place to start asking for and getting what we want.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please share any other questions you think should be included.

Categories: 21st Century Competencies, Capacity Building, Education Transformation, Human Resources | Tags: , , , , , | 18 Comments

Hire Right

As we head into the final month of the school year, I find myself in the enviable position of welcoming three new teachers onto my team starting September 2012. One teacher will be transferring in from another school while the other two will be new hires. This is where, I believe, school leaders have a real opportunity to advance the transformation agenda. Phrases like “get the right people in the right seats on the bus” and “one bad hire creates years of entertainment” have never been more true than they are today. A lot of pain, suffering and disappointment can be avoided if we get it right in the first place.  When we hire right, we immediately build the capacity of our team. That’s why I’m going about it in the following way:

First of all the incoming transfer. Yesterday I invited the individual to our school where my associate principal and I met with her for about an hour and a half. With a great deal of enthusiasm we went through the items on the following list:

The list includes ideas and initiatives we have been exploring as a staff and we wanted to show this teacher right from the beginning what we are all about. After doing so we invited her to join us on the journey. It was an inspirational meeting and I am encouraged that we are welcoming someone who will make a great fit on our staff and a great impact on our students.

Now for the two new hires. Below is one of the two advertisements we have posted on our division website.


Closes On: Monday June 04, 2012
We currently are looking to hire a probationary 1.0 FTE teacher at Ecole St. Mary School in Lethbridge commencing August 29, 2012 and ending June 28, 2013. This position requires someone who would be able to provide instructional support in Grades 1-6. The successful candidate must have the ability to work collaboratively with colleagues, team teach, plan, carry out, and assess competency based units of instruction that connect directly to the learner outcomes from the program of study. Experience in working with students from a variety of cultures, including FNMI will be considered an asset. Forward thinking risk-takers will be given consideration.

There are probably a few more areas that could have been touched upon in this add, but we hit on the areas that we feel are important today. You can decide for yourself how we did. The point is to serve notice that there are some nonnegotiables involved in signing on with us. The interview, of course, will flush these out even further, and it is our intention to hire individuals who are ready and willing to share the vision for our school. Once hired our new teachers can expect to be held accountable for their actions and practice in relation to this vision. They can also expect a high degree of trust and undying support from their administrators.

Wish me luck.

Categories: Capacity Building, Education Transformation, Human Resources | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at