Each year we lose teachers to other positions in the district, other schools or districts, non-renewal and teacher burn out. This year is no exception, but we are approaching the interview process a bit differently. In the past we have put together a team of teachers and administrators, this year we added a student leader or student on special assignment (S.O.S.A.) to the team. It has been interesting observing the candidates interact with the students, as well as, answer questions they ask during the questioning portion of the interview. Sometimes candidates ask questions about the school which are deferred to the S.O.S.A. to answer. Their answers are very raw and candidate, providing information to not only the candidate but to our team on how we can become better. Our interviews are broken into two parts, the interview with the school team and an observation lesson in the classroom on a predetermined topic. After the question portion, we invite candidates to step out at which point the S.O.S.A. escorts them to the classroom where they will teach their sample lesson. This provides the team a few minutes to debrief prior to the lesson.
Upon returning we ask the S.O.S.A’s to share in our debriefing process by adding strengths of the candidate and any areas of concern they noted. This information has been valuable as it showcases what is important and valued by our students. After one interview our S.O.S.A. noticed that the teacher never talked about how he/she would handle discipline concerns or address student misbehavior. Other comments included how the candidate was very excited and they could tell how much they cared about teaching and students. The S.O.S.A.’s are very insightful and honest during the process. We found this new component very powerful. After all they are the students, the reason we are here in the first place. They bring a valuable insight to our team, one we must always be mindful of.
After debriefing we release the students to return to class and the rest of the team joins the candidate for their sample lesson in a borrowed classroom. We find this more informative than sharing a sample lesson with the team. This technique has also provides valuable information about the prospective teaching candidate: Do their answers to the interview questions align with their actual teaching practice? How do they respond when a student provides a correct or incorrect answer? In what ways do they interact with the class as a whole or individual students? How do they assess student learning throughout the lesson? Do they enjoy teaching?
We are excited to see what results this refined interview process brings. In what ways is your school ensuring you get the right, teaching candidates?