This time of year is busy for school leaders as they forward plan for the new academic year. A key task at this time of the school year is the appointment of new staff that are good fits for your school will value add to the school’s teaching and learning agenda.
But how you you attract quality staff?
One of the first steps is writing your advertisement. But how do you write an effective teacher advertisement.
Even if you are using a recruitment firm (which is useful and sometimes cost effective) preparing for the advertising/recruiting yourself helps to solidify your expectations of teaching and learning in your school.
Briefly, here are my 8 steps to securing quality staff to your school.
Be clear on your needs: The cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland offers simple, yet profound advice: If you don’t know where you are heading, it doesn’t matter which road you take! As a leader if you don’t know what you are looking for it will be difficult to distinguish between the CVs. If you are replacing a maths teacher, what are you looking for? Maths knowledge? Experience? Innovation? Charismatic? Firm? The Super Teacher? A clear profile of the type of teacher you desire should be established.
Attract Teacher’s Attention: When writing your advertisement use a catchy headline to attract job seekers to read your announcement.
Be Specific with the Role Description: To help differentiate the numerous CVs that come across your desk it is important to be clear about what the role entails. This ensures the candidate knows exactly what is expected of him/her if finally appointed to your school.
What makes this role different to others?: Every school needs a maths teacher, but why would a prospective maths teacher choose your school? What is it about the role (and your school) that wants candidates to apply.
Outline the School Vision: Every school has its own charter as they work towards fulfilling the vision of the school. You need teachers who can value add and help drive your school improvement plan.
Be Clear on the Application Process: Prospective candidates are looking at multiple positions and if you are clear on how easy it is to apply to your school the more likely they will submit an application. Be precise on the timing, application procedures (eg cover letter and criteria to address), and shortlisting criteria. It also demonstrates a well organised school.
Distribute your Advertisement: Whether using recruitment agencies or going it alone, the distribution of the advertisement is critical. Choosing the media for distribution (eg newspapers, social media, educational journals) to help increase readership is pivotal. Don’t discount your current staff and the word of mouth as a means for distribution.
Interview Strategically: Once you have shortlisted your candidates, preparing for the interview is an important next step. Be prepared, write your questions for the interviewee based on the role description and seek questions about their previous roles as they relate to the role they are applying. Look for potential, takes notes to make comparative judgements against other candidates you interview and always follow up with the candidate afterwards; whether successful or unsuccessful.
Finding the right staff that fit your school can be an arduous task. However, having the right staff makes your school life a lot more exciting.
Earlier this week I was reading an article on teacher absenteeism and its extent and the impact on student achievement. We know that teacher quality is one on the largest factors is raising student achievement outside the influences of the home. While some schools have difficulty with teacher absenteeism Dar Al Marefa has a very low absentee rate.
Interestingly at this time of the year, as we embark on recruitment for the new academic year ahead an erroneous perception is that here at Dar Al Marefa we are somehow “lucky” because we have and are able to attract “good” staff who are committed and dedicated to their profession.
We at Dar Al Marefa have a strong recruitment process and know that “You are who you recruit. That it is a reflection of yourself” and we begin with ensuring we have a clear position description (ie identifying what is the job we are recruiting for, identifying the difference in what teachers do in our school)
As our short listing avoids perceived bias and not making decisions solely based on information, (ie name, location, qualification) ensuring a question list is used for scoring applicants. Our interview techniques focus on ensuring a comfortable environment is used; that questions are open ended and linked linked to the job description. Each question should be able to be scored. In providing scenario questions we ensure the panel doesn’t do all the talking.
Consequently we are able to recruit good staff and they are committed and dedicated but it has very little to do with luck. They are good because we deliberately target and recruit the best staff available; we clearly communicate the standards and quality expected; we support and assist them to reach those standards through ongoing professional development and they are monitored through a well-established and rigorous appraisal system.
The teachers we place in front of each class are expected to rise to the challenge of becoming life-long learners, continually improving and developing their skills. They set “SMART” (Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Realistic and Timely) professional development goals for themselves. They do this because of expectations and an obligation they have to themselves, to the school and to their students. They take their place in and role model the work ethic that goes with a legitimate learning community and it is this attitude combined with sheer hard work that provides the foundation for the quality and standards of education enjoyed throughout the Dar Al Marefa Community.
The international school sector is an exciting playground for not only honing leadership skills but acquiring new ones. It is at this time of year when the focus begins to look at recruitment; both retaining and employing new staff. Classroom teachers, middle management leaders and even principals are at the mercy of interview panels.
But what do you look for when appointing? For me, regardless of the position we need to fill, I look for leadership qualities. Someone who will make a difference. I’m not looking for puppets who do move when strings are pulled. I need decision makers, innovators, creative thinkers and risk takers. I want someone who wants to make a difference and have the evidence to show they can.
I was once called a “Maverick” by an employer and I took that as a compliment even though I knew it was meant as a slur on my leadership. The connotation was that my visioning, decision making or leadership was being a principal that was independent, unorthodox or not in keeping with what other principals were doing. Therefore I was out of line. The message given clear; I was suppose to follow, not lead.
I was heartened when I stumbled across the thoughts of Kim Williams, the Australian Media Executive and Composer, in his autobiography. His views on leadership and the role of leaders moving their organisations struck a chord with me .
What resonates is his interpretation of and the confusion surrounding “busy” people. Too often leaders are busy doing “things” (managing) rather than building the path towards improvement (leadership). This is particularly important at the classroom level. You don’t want doers following, you want leaders acting, diagnosing, planning and intervening in the teaching/learning.
If you want improvement to be a key outcome then the need to appoint a leader rather than a manager, at any level of the organisation, is pivotal to your school’s success.