As we are in the midst of hiring season, I have been interviewing many, many candidates hoping to land a teaching job with us. The ideal candidate–in addition to having the ability to walk on water–teaches dynamic lessons, differentiates instruction, communicates with students’ families, uses formative assessment to guide instruction, develops great relationships with students, knows how to integrate technology into the classroom and exhibits Extensive Professional Commitment.
Most teaching candidates know this, of course, and they come to interviews prepared to answer questions related to these topics. Some candidates seem more sincere than others, some more nervous, some have different experiences, some seem to have a deeper understanding of these ideas than others. But overall, it is rare to find a candidate who doesn’t understand what it takes to be a good teacher. (Putting it into practice is another matter entirely).
But being a good teacher doesn’t necessarily mean a person is going to have a successful 35-year career.
Consider this: assuming a teacher works for 35 years, and factoring salary and benefits, each new hire is potentially a $3-4 million investment for a school board. Realizing this, districts look to hire folks that are not only going to be dynamic in the classroom, but also good colleagues.
In other words, it is not enough to be a great teacher. One also must be a good employee.
What does that mean? It means that teachers who come to interview need to realize that hiring decisions are often made by much more than what is said in the interview. Decisions are made based on:
- How well did the candidate treat the secretary who scheduled the interview?
- How responsive was the candidate to returning phone calls or emails to schedule the interview?
- How well did the candidate treat the receptionist who welcomed him to the interview?
- How prompt was the candidate to the interview?
- How professional did the candidate appear?
- How much did the candidate research about the place he may be working for the next 35 years?
- How likely does it appear the candidate will be able to work well with others, to be part of a team, to be a positive ambassador for the district to others in the community?
Great teachers know they should teach 35 years, not one year 35 times.
And after that 35-year career, each teacher will have a retirement party. At that retirement party, all the guests will be happy. If you have been a good employee, the guests will be happy FOR you retiring. If you haven’t been a good employee, they will be happy BECAUSE you are retiring.
Rest assured, when looking to hire teachers, I will always look to hire those that have the skills to be great performers in the classroom. But to get a job with us, a person needs to show that they will not only be a great teacher, but a great employee.