Participating in a number of #edchats lately, I’ve seen variations on one type of comment come up on a fairly regular basis. It usually goes something like this: “I wish I worked at a school with so many twitter-connected colleagues. The conversations and PD that occurs here are invaluable.”
This got me thinking about the hiring process that schools tend to use. First of all, it can not be understated: The most important single step in the success or failure of a school is the quality of the candidates it hires. However, more often than should be accepted, hiring new teachers usually involves posting the position on the school or district website, connecting with one or more headhunting firms, asking staff to mention it to people they might know, and waiting for resumes to pour in. Needless to say, this process significantly limits the pool of potential candidates. Schools are limited to an incredibly small sample size, populated mostly by (a) people who were lucky enough to network at the right time with a current teacher, and (b) people who are dissatisfied with their current position. The possibility of finding a great teacher is still there, but in the technology-connected world schools now inhabit, there are ways to increase a school’s odds.
In #edchats throughout a year, there are literally thousands of people who would be invaluable additions to a school and make the professional community within a school a better place. More importantly, most if not all of these people have a long digital trail that lets a potential employer see exactly what they believe about education as well as their specific subject(s). Reading a persons twitter timeline or their blog gives everyone a great sense of that person and their professional life.
The implications for a forward thinking school are huge. Instead of posting a position and hoping the right name pops out of the stack of resumes, why not sit in on an edchat, or sschat, or scichat, or ______chat and see what these teachers have to say? If someone sticks out, take a look at their timeline. Check out their blog. See how their beliefs jive with the mission of your school or district. You’ll find out a lot more about a potential teacher from their digital footprint than you will from an interview or even, in some cases, a sample lesson. If you want to create a great school with connected educators interested in their own practice as well as their community of colleagues, it’s time to stop waiting and start pursuing. If administrators believe in their schools, they will find the teachers that will best make their schools places where students thrive.