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Today’s One Thing for Leaders: Hiring Teachers in a Remote Setting, Part 1 – Active Recruitment and Selection

Jeremy Jones

Jeremy Jones

The Learning Accelerator

Recruiting and selecting the right teachers for your campus is always a challenge. Given several critical factors, particularly in the face of a global health crisis, recruiting and selecting teachers is an even bigger test school leaders must face this spring.

In 2003, The New Teacher Project (TNTP) published their report, Missed Opportunities, describing how districts lose out on top talent by waiting to extend offers until late summer. The best teachers are actively recruited, put through a rigorous and efficient selection process, and hired quickly. Likewise, school leaders who are effective “talent magnets” do these three things well:

  • Understand their needs well in advance of hiring season.
  • Source and recruit multiple potential candidates for openings.
  • Design efficient processes for interviewing and selecting the right person for the need.

If remote learning continues into the fall, school leaders may have to hire and onboard teachers they have never met in person, so being strategic and creative with hiring is even more vital to having a successful year.

The question we’re considering is: How can schools identify, recruit, and select teachers remotely so as to not miss out on top talent?

As we’ve mentioned above, hiring cycles usually follow a few phases: understanding your needs, sourcing and recruiting candidates, selecting from among those candidates, and then bringing them onto the team. Today’s post will cover the first few phases. Next week, we will bring you additional resources and tools to consider for onboarding new teachers to your team.

Understanding Your Needs

Principals have to consider the skills and competencies required to best serve their students. In an environment of increased remote learning, new skills can help ensure teachers are successful in multiple environments and across various teaching modalities. We’re asking more from our teachers than ever before, so narrowing in on the traits that allow them to be successful is an essential part of the recruiting and selection process. Principals should be considering new competencies during this spring’s selection cycle, including proficiency with remote teaching tools and practices.

Teacher Recruitment

Luckily, school leaders have access to the same tools and resources that major talent agencies use to attract top performers. Platforms like LinkedIn and other social media sites make it possible for school leaders to “brand for talent,” projecting an appealing value proposition to potential candidates.

  • Leverage social media to attract candidates: Social media provides us with platforms for community and connection and can be a powerful tool for teacher recruitment.
    • Posting quick videos to your school or personal Facebook page is a great way to provide recruits some insight into who you are as a school leader. Check out this LinkedIn post from Stephanie Hall Powell of San Antonio Prep as a great example.
    • Compass Rose Public Schools gives us another great example of providing a lot of content on social media that gives potential teachers a glimpse into what life would be like working at the school.
    • This example from Solar Prep is also helpful because it outlines the entire application process, giving candidates a fully transparent view of what it takes to become a teacher at this school.
  • Use your existing team to help source new talent: Great teachers are connected to other great teachers. Your current group of mission-aligned, top-performing teachers can help connect you with others in the profession.
    • Ask your teachers to introduce you to two or three other teachers they know. This is a great way to expand your network of possible candidates through referrals.
    • Ask teachers to use their social media networks to post information about application deadlines and stories about what it is like working at the school as a way to draw in potential recruits.
  • Host online information sessions: Once you’ve generated some buzz from social media posts or teacher referrals, you might consider hosting an online information session. This could be a great opportunity for you to connect with recruits, answer questions, and make a compelling value proposition about why your school is a great option.

Teacher Selection

There is good news about remote teacher selection. Many high-performing organizations, like Teach for America (TFA), have been using remote tools for teacher selection for years. TFA uses online tools to select hundreds of TFA Corps Members each year. This practice has helped to increase equity in their hiring process as it accommodates outstanding candidates who would otherwise be unable to attend a day of in-person interviews.

Aside from sharing clear, identifiable characteristics of their schools and selection processes, school leaders can also consider the following approaches to strengthen remote selection.

  • Give pre-work to candidates to prepare and deliver during the interview: Pre-work for an interview can help set an impression for the candidate about what is important to you as a school leader and what it takes to be successful in your school. A broad range of activities can surface the skills and talents of potential new hires. From preparing a five-minute sample lesson to sharing teacher videos online and reacting to them, these pre-work activities are great ways to dig into your interview from the get-go.
  • Create group interview experiences that allow teachers to show their skills: If you have other team members who can join you during interviews, you can simulate an online class for your recruit, allowing you to assess their capacity to perform in a remote setting. Independent of the online approach, these group interviews can help you identify how teachers respond and react to varying group dynamics. If possible, have candidates plan and carry out a sample lesson to act as a proxy for what you might expect from them if they’re hired.
  • Follow up with an additional project after the interview: When school leaders are effective in recruiting multiple outstanding, talented teachers, it can be a challenge to choose just one. Another effective practice can be following up with strong candidates on a final project. These projects can range from writing out lesson plans to modifying work for student accommodations, providing leaders with additional data to make sound hiring decisions.

Three Practical Tips to Help You Get Started

  • Use Canva to create visually appealing social media posts to engage recruits.
  • Leverage the top education job boards to source candidates: National Charter School Job Board, WorkMonger, Teach For America, and other platforms can help you get the word out about your openings.
  • If you are able, provide incentives for referrals. Gift cards or raffle prizes might entice your network to help spread the word about your open positions.

More Great Resources We Found

  • TNTP has created this Candidate Tracker that helps leaders keep teacher recruits organized.
  • This report from the Education Commission of the States outlines some recruitment and retention tips alongside some deeper context for why this matters.
  • A blog post from Think Strategic for Schools shares 10 concise strategies for launching a recruitment campaign.

Next Steps

We would love to hear from you. The impact of school closures is pervasive, and the challenge to find and hire the best teachers, despite the closures, is immense. How are you addressing this challenge? How have you adjusted your hiring practices? What creative ideas are working for you? Your feedback might help other school leaders around the country. Let us know @LearningAccel on Twitter.

Next week, we will bring you the second part of this post, outlining how to “seal the deal” with teacher candidates and how to onboard your recruits using remote tools and strategies.

Jeremy Jones

Jeremy Jones

The Learning Accelerator

Jeremy Jones is a Partner at The Learning Accelerator, where he brings insight to TLA's schools and systems strategy work. Jeremy has spent 15 years working alongside students and families in schools across the country to close the academic achievement gap.