No one ever wants to take the blame for something, especially if high stakes are involved. When it comes to education, the fingers always seem to be pointing in every direction. Administrators blame teachers for not following Common Core Standard teaching methods. Teachers blame parents for not engaging with their children or they blame students for not applying themselves in the classroom. The students blame the teacher for a lack of meaningful instruction and the cycle just continues to take a downward spiral.
In short, it takes a village to raise a child. Every person involved has some type of influential impact on a child’s learning. However, in order for this type of community to thrive in this manner, it’s important that school districts and administrators are thoughtful and purposeful with hiring effective teaching staff. An effective teacher is more than someone who has a particular educational background. He or she has particular characteristics that would make for a very successful and rigorous learning environment.
How might school districts ensure that they are equipping their classrooms with the highest quality and effective teaching staff? They should assess what their requirements are for recruiting teachers and ensure that those steps are being implemented with fidelity.
Have a Core Set of Values and Mission Statement
Not all districts are created equal. Some districts are traditional while others can be charter or private. Regardless of the size of the district, it’s important that it examines its true core set of values and mission statement. This is to help with outlining the requirements for equipping classrooms with effective teachers. Some questions to consider are:
- What is our district’s purpose?
- What are our ideal outcomes?
- How is every decision centered around student success?
- Who will be on the committees for hiring certified staff?
Identifying the answers to these questions can certainly help districts frame their model for hiring high-quality teachers. From there, these are some key characteristics to consider when it comes to providing students with the most effective teacher in their classrooms.
Do They Have Work or Internship Experience?
Part of being consistent with their core values, school districts need to consider hiring teachers who have had either real work experience or internship in the classroom. Yes, new teachers need the opportunity to grow, but if they’ve never once stepped foot in a classroom professionally or as an intern, it can really diminish the effectiveness of the teacher. There is a lot to learn about being in an actual classroom – things that are never taught in college or prep programs.
Do They Have a Passion for Teaching
Not only should teachers possess prior experience, they should also have the drive to want to teach today’s youth. With the need to evolve and differentiate instruction, passionate teachers will find the way to incorporate the best strategies that are in the best interest of their students. Teachers who are simply there to collect a paycheck will not help to yield great results either academically or culturally.
Are They Data-Driven?
No matter how daunting and tedious data may seem, it’s no secret that data analysis is extremely important to the art of teaching and student achievement. Of course, not all data is the same and shouldn’t be taken for face value. Instead, understanding the need to assess and reflect on it is what makes for an effective teacher. Teachers can utilize interim assessments to gauge their students progress and use it as backward planning throughout the year. Surveys can also be used to measure quality control and reflecting on best teaching practices. It is vital that districts prioritize teachers who want to and are able to learn about assessing data to perfect their own practice.
Are They a Relationship Builder – Collaborator?
Many teachers can be the smartest math whizzes in the world. But, they can also be very anti-social and anti-change, all of which are very anti-teacher qualities. School districts should be looking for teachers who are willing to listen to and collaborate with their peers and their students. Also, these effective teachers will be ones who take the time to build relationships with other staff and their students. Once trust is established, it becomes very easy for students to become more engaged in instruction and respect their teachers.
Are They Great at Classroom Management?
On top of having the ability to engage with students and teach complex, instructional material, highly effective teachers are also ones to have great classroom management skills. Once students begin to defy the teacher, act out, distract other students and disrespect the space, it becomes very apparent that there is a lack of classroom management on behalf of the teacher. Effective teachers will have set and consistent norms in place from the first day of school. From there, they will continuously practice the best strategies for delivering instruction alongside keeping the class contained and in control. Poor classroom management can negatively and immensely affect the overall learning and physical environment of a classroom.
Of course, a great and amazing teacher will not be the silver bullet for schools to turn themselves around and have higher student achievement. Collectively, educators need to be strongly supported by instructional leadership. Principals, instructional coaches and mentors need to be in concert and collaboration with teachers at the site. Consistent and meaningful observations in the classroom help teachers with strengthening their instruction. Plus, providing feedback after these observations are crucial to the professional development of teachers.
As districts prepare for the start of the year, it is extremely important that they keep key factors in mind when hiring a teaching staff. Although they should have a general set of guidelines to help them keep things as equitable as possible, it’s also important to note that each school site within the district will have individual and unique needs. For instance, a Dual Language campus may need someone who is bilingual to help promote their bilingual and dual language program. A high school site may be looking for someone who can coach the volleyball team and be a PE teacher to keep maintain quality control. Either way, it’s essential that the needs of the district and school sites be prioritized in order to fully equip classrooms with the most highly effective teachers. The fate of our students and their success depends on it.