At NFV this year we have 11 teacher positions to fill. Due to the TLC creating 4 new positions for Teacher Leadership Roles (TLC), retirements and resignations, we got involved in hiring early, and I am glad we did. The quality of applicants we found and have been able to interview thus far has been phenomenal.
All of these bright young (or experienced) minds challenge us to think deeply about 3 questions; Why we do what we do, what skills do we really want from a new employee, and who is most likely to fill our specific expectations? When we get 2, 3 or 4 excellent educators who want to work at NFV I am thrilled that we have to make a very tough decision. So lets consider my three questions:
Why do we do what we do? It personal, its local to NFV and our schools' direction and Core Values. These values are considered for all of our decisions. When it comes to hiring they lay the foundation for the characteristics we want from our future employees. We are hiring assuming someone will be here for the duration and so we consider it a potential 30 year decision.
What do we really want from a new employee? This is job specific, its a definition of of what job we need filled, which credentials, experiences and skills are necessary to do this job well? Credentials are the easy part, screen for the licenses and endorsements required for the position and consider additional credentials
that may add value to our district in the future.
Who is most likely to to fill our specific expectations? This
is the tough one, especially when some of our applicants are residents, sons or daughters of our communities. As a grandparent I certainly understand the desire to have the kids settle in the hometown, and watch their grandkids grow up right here, close to home. It appears as though we will be hiring some of them, those that meet the needs we have and the characteristics we desire, get a very close look. But that connection is just a small piece of the pie. This is hopefully a 30 year decision and we are committed to hire the best we can find. Our candidate pools this year include some very experienced and successful educators. When I interview someone, I look for actions. What have they done related to this position, how have they prepared themselves for this position. This doesn't mean we only hire the experienced candidates, we want to hire the best prepared candidates.
I also look for the tacit skills that come naturally to an educator, things that are hard to define (by definition) are tacit skills. In education that can be a sense of humor, or sense of leadership skills or just a personality that we see connecting with students. Most importantly its an intuition about students, a sense of emotional intelligence that makes them able to read and react to student situations. I like to say that when someone asks this teacher what they teach, they say students, not math or science or language, they are there for the students, not the content.
We just got back from a teacher fair at UNI yesterday. Very proud to have the resources of the University of Northern Iowa Education Department, UNI Education Leadership staff @UNIEdLead in our corner of the state. We spoke to many freshly minted new teachers, eager to get their first job. That and all the applications we've already received makes me excited for the future of NFV!
*Just as a side note, a great philosophical question is posted at a blog called Teach.Learn. Lead. Repeat. "What is School For?" More on this in my next post.