Hiring great Teachers

The Road to Hiring High Quality Teachers!

“I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.” – Dr. Haim Ginott

The process of hiring high quality teachers is the most important undertaking for any building administrator and committee. As Dr. Ginott so eloquently explains, every teacher hired to lead a classroom sets a tone for their students, your building, and even your community.

There are very simple steps your committee can take to ensure that your next hire is meeting the needs of your students, your building and your community!


  1. Decide as a staff what is a non-negotiable quality for a new staff member.
    1. For instance, as a 1:1 iPad school we consider innovation and technology use non-negotiable with our staff hiring process.
    2. This is a practice the business world has embraced for many years.
      1. http://www.theprivatebusinessowner.com/2012/06/what-are-your-non-negotiables-for-preventing-a-bad-hire/
  1. Do your homework!
    1. After your committee completes the paper screening process, why waste time interviewing anyone you have not researched?
    2. What does their digital footprint say about them? How does their digital footprint match with your non-negotiable qualities?
    3. Reference checks prior to interviews can also help you plan appropriate individualized questions for an applicant.
    4. There are experts who believe in predictability of high quality candidates:
      1. http://hepg.org/hel-home/issues/27_3/helarticle/using-research-to-predict-great-teachers_501
  1. What day are they teaching in?
    1. Are they meeting the needs of yesterday’s learners and yesterday’s schools OR are they prepared to meet the needs or tomorrow’s learners in tomorrow’s schools?
    2. For instance, our community is going to be the proud owners of a brand new K-12 building in a few years. We want to ensure that our staff is prepared to engage students in a 21st century learning environment.
    3. “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” —John Dewey
  1. Use your experts to help in the process!
    1. Who do you have on your hiring committee? Who is the best choice to help with the paper screening? Who is best suited to assist with reference calls?
    2. Does your process involve your staff? If not, why?
    3. Does your process involve the candidate teaching a lesson? Why or why not?
    4. There is not a perfect process for all, but it is important to find the perfect process for your building/district.
  1. Make sure it is a good fit for both sides.
    1. On occasion you may be lucky enough to have more than one candidate you would be confident with. In doing what is best for the building/district do not be afraid to ask what their future plans will be also.
    2. Some situations require a process to select the best candidate for short term growth even if the candidate may not be a long term solution.
    3. Some situations require selecting the best candidate for a long term solution.
    4. Every situation is not the same.
  1. Trust yourself!
    1. As a committee member or administrator you have to trust your instincts to make the decision when the time presents itself.
    2. Your committee should have the best insight into your building/district needs.
    3. Your committee should be the best qualified to determine what supports each new staff member will need.
  1. End with another great staff member!

Make sure the candidate you hire will be right for your district and then provide the supports needed for them to succeed (another blog for another day). The message you send to your new staff will be relayed within their classroom to students. Make sure that message to students meets your non-negotiable needs as a building!

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”  —Henry Brooks Adams


Looking back at a week with few complaints and looking ahead to an icy Monday.

After a very good five day week to begin our school year students and teachers were all craving that weekend and the feeling of relaxing and catching up on sleep. I ended the day Friday finding out that the high school cheerleading team had challenged me ( and the assistant principal) to the ALS ice bucket challenge. They we gracious enough to give us the weekend (24 school hours) to make our plans and I am happy to say challenge accepted! Now we plan a way to allow some lucky students to dump ice on our heads. Sounds like fun right? Well at least it will be less painful than watching my beloved Browns look like a pee-wee team trying to play professional football. That’s a topic in itself so we can save that for some other Sunday evening.

I was trying to decide what to write about after a week of school and the roll out of our 1:1 iPad initiative at our school and realized the choice was easy… I will write about complaints. Wait, not what you’re thinking! We went an entire week, and there were quite a few bumps in the road, and if did not hear any complaints! Yes, you heard that right. We rolled out 425 iPads to kids, 40 for staff, had data errors, a password issue, kids missing from grade books, a long list of requested apps not yet uploaded, but through all if it excitement was overwhelming the complaints.

Teachers have researched apps, planned for new methods of instruction and taken all the bumps in stride. Students have proven they are smarter than we give them credit for, can help each other faster than we can help them, and care enough to show up every day ready to create.

Now we prepare for week 2 which includes meetings about SLO’s, picture day, the first home football game, and 90 degree heat indexes and I hope we can continue to inspire. I hope students come in prepared to learn and teachers can continue to utilize the technology in a manner where students can create, predict, analyze and learn at the highest level possible.

Oh.. And I need to figure out who to challenge next after I get doused with ice water. On to week 2!


Excitement and Trepidation

Two words that accompany the start of every school year. This year is a little different because all of our students in the high school, grades 7-12, are receiving iPads! The notice came to teachers about two weeks before school ended in May and throughout the Summer teachers have been actively looking for apps and ideas to utilize the iPads in their classroom this year. We reviewed many apps to end last year and my faith in the staff has never been higher as I saw the excitement on their faces back in May.

Now it is nearly August and as I try to get my mind into start up mode for school which is now less than two weeks away. I walk the nice clean hallways and see the football coach (he pretty much lives there and runs the place) at 2 a days and the band director at band camp. Did I mention I got to help the percussion section last week? yeah… I love that!

Anyway, the realization that the year is upon us, the new staff has been hired and the classrooms are ready has woken me up! I feel excited again, like I do every year – which is why I still love my job. The trepidation is only due to the unknown. The truth is, education has not changed, just the delivery methods have changed. Students today learn differently then when I was a student and the resources we have available are VERY different than when I was in school 20 years ago… wow… I’m getting old.

Luckily I work with a great staff who are willing to keep learning themselves and this may very well end up being the most fun year of my career. Even with OTES/SLO/CCSS and whatever other acronym that “forces” us to be better. Our staff WANTS to be better. We will be better. I will be better. Every year presents the opportunity to do things better than before. I look forward to that opportunity every July/August and this year is no exception. Just a little different.

So to our younger staff members and our grizzled veterans I give the following advice (Mostly stolen from people much smarter then myself)
-Be the teacher you always wanted to have
-Know your stuff
-True Engagement takes Real Planing
-Keep the energy level high

I can’t wait to see everyone again!