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