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This is Our World

Jen Robinson Current Affairs, Education, Education Policy, Elementary, Social Issues, Teacher Leadership

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This past fall our district passed an override adding 50 new teaching positions and upgrading technology. This was a great victory for our community and schools. It showed a partnership, commitment and trust had been built and a promise moving forward. With this comes a great task for administration and schools, hiring the best teachers, the most qualified teachers in the midst of a teacher shortage.

Each year there is teacher turn over, teachers who were recruited from out of state move back home, others look for new adventures overseas with better pay and incentives while embarking on a new journey of a life time. Other teachers switch districts for a change and/or to re-coop the years lost when the salary scale was frozen. Others leave the profession all together unhappy with the direction education is going. After all, the responsibilities of a teacher have changed over the years and teachers are expected to do more with less, to fill the gaps for scholars who have moved several times over the course of the year and have life happening beyond what we can comprehend, as well as, teach a year’s worth of curriculum and standards in 30 weeks, as many of our testing windows now open in March. Many schools have taken a hard stance on numerical data and test scores, so much so it is easy to get lost in the day-to-day requirements and “restraints” of teaching. So in the midst of this public school crisis and education in general undergoing a national overhaul, we still need to stay focused and fill open positions. We need to stay focused on teaching and learning and positively impacting scholars.

This year I have become very aware that it is truly a “teacher’s market.” In our district we currently have ten elementary teaching openings between six schools. The number is down and we continue to interview and hire candidates. A “teachers market,” yes. So for every candidate I interview or set up an interview, they are also likely to have received five other calls each from the other principals. It became clear in several interviews it was my job, our team’s job to sell our school, to market our school and make a positive impression, an impact so great, when the applicant left they couldn’t stop thinking about our school and the impact they could have. For our team this was easy to do, we truly work as a school team and look for ways to support teaching and learning.  We value teachers and provide opportunities for growth. We know teaching is hard work, but together we can achieve greatness. We have shifted our thinking to develop the whole child, all students have genius, everyone can be a leader, all change starts with me, and teachers and staff empower students to lead their own learning.

The problem is, applicants are accepting other positions and cancelling their scheduled interviews. This adds on an additional challenge, once a candidate applies we must make a connection and quickly set up an interview. Very few candidates actually commit to and continue through to the interviews they’ve scheduled. Over the past four weeks, we’ve had six candidates no show or cancel their interviews without stepping onto our campus. In the end, I hope they are landing in a school that will value their strengths and provide opportunities for growth. I hope they are at a school where their voice will be heard and they have an opportunity to elevate the conversation around teaching and learning for many years to come.

So as simple as it was to put words to paper reflecting on this reality, so to was it that simple to shift my thinking and my perspective. As an administrator I have to focus on what is best for our campus, our scholars, our families. In the end is it better that they cancelled their interviews without meeting us, without stepping onto our campus? Maybe it is. Interestingly this year the candidates we are offering positions to and who are accepting have had many choices and they are making informed decisions to join our team. Frustrating, yes to schedule, cancel and reschedule, but in the end we are hiring the best qualified teachers and genuinely amazing people, who are committed to teaching and learning and WANT to be on our campus.

How do you market your school or district to attract the most qualified teachers?

What do you do or say pre-interview to keep candidate’s interest and attention focused on your school and actually committing to the interview?

 

Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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