The following tip, which focuses on how to hire the right people for your school, is adapted from The Principal's Guide to the First 100 Days of the School Year: Creating Instructional Momentum by Shawn Joseph.
Nothing says more about who you are as a leader than your leadership team and who you hire. Nothing! One lesson principals must learn early is that it is not about you—it’s about the team you assemble. Here is some advice on filling teaching vacancies!
As the leader of the school, you need to know that you have assembled a team that understands the moral urgency of ensuring a high-level education for all students. Each individual interaction that staff members have with students and with the community will define the tone and the perceptions people have of your school. What message do you want future staff members to communicate? How do you know the hearts of your new hires? Here are some questions that may help you delve into your new hires’ educational philosophies that define who they are as educational leaders.
Questions for Educators with Previous Educational Experience
- Why did you become an educator?
- If I were to call your last employer and ask her to share the legacy you are leaving at the school, what would she say?
- Share with us a famous person whom you admire more than any other celebrity. Why do you value this person so much? How do the person’s attributes connect to your work with children?
- How has your life's journey affected your interactions with the students you serve?
- Why do you believe the achievement gap exists, and what can you do about it as a teacher with the children in your classroom?
As a hiring manager, you will probably find that interviewing teachers with previous experience is easy. These individuals come to the interview with a history that can be researched. Never hire experienced candidates without checking their references. Experienced teachers’ history is a great window into what they potentially will do at your school. If you are lucky, you will have an opportunity to interview and hire candidates with a track record of commitment, compassion, and excellence. If you can’t find a veteran, you will need to hire and support new teaching candidates.
Questions for New Teachers
- Why are you choosing to become an educator?
- Give me three examples of personal characteristics that will make you an outstanding educator.
- Why do you believe some students achieve while others fail? What can you do about this discrepancy as an educator?
- Describe a challenge you’ve faced in life, and discuss how you overcame it.
- As you think about your own K–12 educational experience, describe your best teacher. What made this teacher so good?
- Describe how your classroom will look and discuss your rationale for your design.
- What is the role of children’s parents in their education, and what will you do as a teacher to work with families?
- What steps will you take to ensure effective communication with people of different cultural backgrounds?
- What steps will you take to inspire unmotivated students?
- What steps will you take to build substantive relationships with your students?
These sample questions will give you some insight into the character and disposition of your new hires as they begin to conceptualize their roles as teachers.