A 3-Part Exercise to Help Principals Make Better Hiring Decisions

Posted on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 @ 14:01 PM

principal hiring teachersHiring teachers is tricky business, but it becomes even trickier when a teacher suddenly announces his or her departure a few weeks—or even days—before the new school year begins.

When teachers move on unexpectedly, it’s easy to panic, but by deciding earlier in the school year what kinds of teachers we want to hire, we can avoid making careless decisions that conflict with our standards.

We’ve been reading The Rookie's Playbook: Insights and Dirt for New Principals and came across a three-part exercise to help you predetermine who you want to hire.

After answering the eight questions below, answer them again, only substitute the word “good” for “excellent.”  

  • Good teachers can talk to me about their subject matter or their classrooms in the following ways…

  • Good teachers demonstrate to me that they are passionate about students by doing these things…

  • Good teachers demonstrate to me that they are passionate about teaching by doing these things…

  • Good teachers say the following things about classroom management…

  • Good teachers must have the following qualities for me to hire them…

  • The following qualities are deal-breakers, no matter how excellent the teacher is…

  • These are the strengths that I personally have; I want to see them reflected in the behavior of the teachers I hire…

  • Good teachers demonstrate that they are good colleagues by doing and saying the following…

Now that you’ve completed parts one and two of the exercise, do the reverse: Replace the word good/excellent with the word acceptable. This will give you a wide spectrum of answers that illustrate your values about teaching and learning. When it’s time to hire a new teacher, refer back to your answers.

Photo credit: Nathan Stephens

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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, effective principal, educational leaders, hiring teachers, new principal

Hiring Teachers: 20 essential interview questions for principals

Posted on Fri, Jul 19, 2013 @ 09:07 AM

hiring teachersHiring teachers is tricky business. More specifically, though, hiring is a solitary business. We may include the staff, the PTA or the board in the selection process, but whether they are included or not, the administrator will stand alone if that new hire doesn’t work out.

But making the right hiring decision has implications that transcend an administrator’s reputation and legacy. John Black and Fenwick English are right to suggest that “people are ultimately institutions. Institutions are no better than their collective brains, energy, and humanity guided by a mission.” If we are to reform our schools, close racial gaps, increase academic performance and build effective curriculum, we must hire the right “brains, energy, and humanity” to help us do it.

While we recognize that hiring teachers is a long and complicated process that requires more than asking “the right” set of interview questions, we’d like to share 20 useful interview questions from Kenneth Peterson’s book, Effective Teacher Hiring: A guide to Getting the Best.

Hiring Teachers: 20 essential interview questions for principals

  • Why did you become a teacher?
  • How did your education prepare you to become a teacher?
  • What part of teaching appeals to you most/least?
  • What is your philosophy of teaching?
  • What do you believe is the most important part of teaching?
  • How will you reach students with special needs?
  • How will you create a positive environment in your classroom?
  • How will you use technology in the classroom?
  • What attracted you to this school district?
  • What curriculum areas are your strongest?
  • How will you involve parents in the classroom?
  • How will you create relationships with parents and students?
  • What do you think will provide you the greatest pleasure in teaching?
  • In what way will you nurture creativity in the classroom?
  • Can you describe a successful lesson?
  • What do you look for in a principal?
  • How would you communicate with administrators?
  • Describe a time you had to handle a student who was disrupting your class.
  • Describe a team project you’ve work on.
  • Tell me about a difficult situation you were in
    • How did you handle it?
    • What was the outcome?
    • What did you learn from it?
    • What might you do differently if it happened again?

If you’re looking for more tips to help you navigate the hiring process, we recommend checking out not only Kenneth Peterson’s book, Effective Teacher Hiring: A guide to Getting the Best, but also John Black’s and Fenwick English’s book, What They Don’t Tell You in Schools of Education about School Administration.

Photo credit: Groundswell


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Topics: Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, effective principal, Role of Principal in School, Becoming an effective principal, aspiring school administrator, hiring teachers

5 Successful Interview Techniques For Hiring Teacher Leaders

Posted on Tue, Jul 24, 2012 @ 09:07 AM

 Teacher InterviewIn the continuing crisis of budget cuts and teacher layoffs, school districts and education leadership are bombarded with applications for any available position(s).  This can mean sorting through hundreds of qualified applications with minimal staff to help in the process.  If you are feeling overwhelmed after the application sorting process and have found yourself, head-in-hands, exclaiming, "What do we do now?" –fear not!  These successful interview techniques will allow you to come up for air, move forward with confidence and hire the right teacher leaders.

5 Successful Interview Techniques For Hiring Teacher Leaders

  1. Keep this in mind: Education leadership is being interviewed as well
    Obviously you have the upper hand in an interview.  However, the environment you create and the energy that you and fellow interviewers transmit is being evaluated by the interviewees as well. Is the environment welcoming? Make sure all prospective teacher leaders are greeted in a friendly manner. Try to keep to strict interview time limits so candidates aren't waiting indefinitely. Provide a comfortable interview area. Remember, this is a potential colleague, so first impressions are important for future relationships.

  2. Get on the same page with the interview panel.
    If you are not alone in conducting the interviews, make sure that your panel has come to a consensus of sorts. What type of teacher leader are you are looking for in terms of credential(s), background, and teaching experience?  Are you all on the same page about the school's philosophies and short/long term goals? Your prospective teacher leader might have questions for you, so it is important the panel is on a similar playing field. Consider a list of routine questions that are scripted and allow each panel member the opportunity to interact with the candidate.

  3. Remember what education leadership should not to ask. 
    Sometimes the most successful interview techniques involve omissions. There are questions and topics that should never be a part of an interview process.  Consider keeping a list of what topics are off-limits so that you won't make a legally detrimental mistake. Unfortunately, some of the best ice breakers are off-limits: Do you have kids? What are you doing for Christmas? Did you buy or are you renting? This 25 Off-Limits Interview Questions resource is a great interview guide to study beforehand.

  4. Ask in-depth questions that allow your candidates to shine. 
    Now the part you've been waiting for: What questions should I ask prospective teacher leaders?!? While we can't tell you exactly what to ask, we can offer suggestions as to themes:
    • Inspiration: What inspires the teacher? What inspiring things/activities/curricula do they do/use in the classroom? Do they inspire their co-workers?
    • Conflict Resolution: With students? With parents? With colleagues? With administration(s)?
    • Discipline/Classroom management: What's their policy? How is it enforced? What methods have they tried/failed?
    • Strengths/Weakness: How do they shine? Where do they need to improve? What kind of support do they need?
    • They should provide examples for any of the above!

  5. Make them ask some questions!
    You can learn a great deal about a person by the things they want to know and the questions they ask.  This is one of the best ways to learn about a candidate's personality/creativity/humor/process/or lack-there-of.

Interviewing an abundant list of teacher leaders provides a remarkable opportunity to select the very best candidate on the market.  Armed with a handful of successful interview techniques, you and your education leadership cohorts can easily sort through the "Who's Who" of applicants. This isn't to say that you will come to an easy decision on the final candidate. But that is just a sign of how many amazing teachers there are out there. May the best teacher win!

More than ever, educational leadership is expected to successfully manage the institution and also improve teaching and learning. The modern administrator or principal also needs to be a visionary! Marygrove College offers a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership, a program that will give you the tools, advanced knowledge and skills necessary to lead the modern school.

You should also know that as of March 26, Marygrove College has reduced tuition rates for our Master of Arts in Educational Leadership Program by 19 percent! This is one step—amongst a few others—that the college is taking to ensure that a Marygrove education is an achievable, financially-sustainable investment.

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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, Role of Principal in School, Online Master's in Educational Leadership, hiring teachers

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