Friday, January 24, 2014

Year 4: Week 19 - Hiring Season

Like many schools we are in the hiring season. This process continues in the spring as summer and people’s lives change and develop and lead them away from our school.

As a young teacher, I was insulated from the hiring process and the hiring cycle. When I was getting years of experience as an assistant, my position did not allow me to be an integral part of the process. Now in my fourth year at this school and a department chair, hiring has become part of the yearly cycle of events just like the Winter Assembly and the last day of school.

Being put in a position to be part of the hiring process is like many other things about being a more experienced teacher. The ability to give more feedback and have a voice in the direction of the school allows me to influence change and help foster ideas. The flip side is that there is a lot of responsibility and there’s fewer people up the ladder that I can lean on to make the tough decisions.

It’s easier to let other people make decisions. You can complain about these decisions, they weren’t yours, someone else made the call. However, when you make a decision about hiring, there’s no one you can blame if things don’t go well.

I’m glad that my school does a lot of these hiring through committees and that’s great but doesn’t necessarily spread the responsibility if something doesn’t go well. There is still a hierarchy of responsibility and like any organization certain people make the final calls and are accountable for those decisions.

In my younger years I thought, well, if you hire someone who is wrong for a position, just fire them and hire someone else, what’s the big deal? Well, it is not easy to fire somebody.  It’s something to be avoided, not relied upon as a way out of mistakes.

If you understand that approach then it puts much more pressure on the hiring process to get it right. The interview process for my first job included them calling my references and interviewing me for and hour and half and then offering me that job, that day.

The interview process for my current job included three teaching samples in front of students and about three hours of interviews over three different days. Only after all of that did the school invite back to be officially offered the job.

At the time I thought this was crazy. At a certain point, it seemed like they were taking advantage of me for free teaching. What, they are too cheap to get a sub? And every time I was interviewed there were at least four people in the room asking me questions.

The downside to this process was that it took a lot of time away from the tasks of being a teacher. Also, many people are part of this interview process who may not have a lot of experience or training on how to interview someone.

The positives however outweigh the negatives significantly. You get different perspectives from other people in the community and it becomes shared experience with the faculty, which is important. The teaching samples are key. They need that “it” factor that you can only gleam from watching someone teach.

It’s a crazy time of year and these are long and involved processes, but our kids are worth it. The worst thing that happens if you get the hiring wrong is not that you fire them but that they stay on because they aren’t bad enough to get fired but are doing damage. The best thing that happens in inspiration to kids and the community that goes beyond expecatations.

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