Tips on Staff Recruitment & Professional Learning

This article is part of a series focusing on the learning continuum, brought to you with support from The Wallace Foundation.

December 2016, Volume 40, Issue 4

Two recent NAESP Twitter discussions on #NAESPChat allowed principals across the country to share tips on staff recruitment and professional learning. Both were sponsored by the Wallace Foundation.

Recruiting Challenges
There are pockets of teacher shortages, but the bigger issue in recruiting is finding the right candidate for the right job at the right time. That was the conclusion of principals who joined #NAESPChat for “Recruiting for Your School: How to Find the Best Candidates” on November 29.

The American Association of School Personnel Administrators (#K12Talent) and Executive Director Kelly Coash Johnson also took part in the conversation, where principals discussed challenges and gave their advice on finding the best candidates for the job.

“I find that investing the appropriate amount of time is one of the biggest challenges, but also the most important,” tweeted co-moderator and Iowa Principal Dan Butler (@danpbutler). In addition, “having some depth to the pool of candidates, especially special education.”

Several principals from rural schools noted that they sometimes have difficulty retaining staff. Others cited a lack of candidates in special education and bilingual education, two chronic shortage areas, as well as shortages of substitutes and upper elementary teachers.

Recruiting Opportunities
As for where to find the best candidates, most looked to local universities and student teachers. Several principals said they prefer to meet candidates in person, even at busy job fairs. Others look to recommendations from colleagues and their personal learning networks. One even called a candidate’s mom for a reference, and another recruited technical staff at the local Apple store.

Participants debated the merits of a video interview, and some said a video would show how well a teacher could adapt under pressure.

Finally, once you snag “the one,” several principals agreed that the best way to support new teachers was to provide mentorship and induction opportunities.

Cultivating Your Career
On December 13, principals discussed the issue of professional learning and shared their strategies for finding the best opportunities and using their time wisely.

“I think learning is all around us. My #PLN [personal learning network] is a great, ever-changing source of information,” tweeted Illinois Principal Kathy Melton (@kathyamelton), who co-moderated “Cultivating Your Career: How to Find Time for Professional Learning, Identifying the Best Opportunities, and Planning Your Next Steps.”

Social media has opened a new arena, and several participants said that they are now primarily using Twitter and other social media for their professional learning. Favorite hashtags include #principalsinaction, #leadupchat, #Admin2B, #suptchat, #leadwild, and #CPchat. State and local networks included #ohedchat, #nyedchat, #iledchat, and #bcpsmakes (maker movement).

Others are using book groups, conferences, trade and association publications, podcasts and blogs to glean wisdom from colleagues. And several said that they share their learnings with their staff by writing e-mails and blogs.

Pennsylvania principal Jason Kotch advises, “Schedule your professional learning with others and rely on each other to make it happen.”

Neil Gupta, an Ohio district administrator, tweeted, “I reflect with my PLN on @Voxer and I share my learning at staff meetings and my weekly Friday Focus!”

And Dennis O’Hara, a superintendent in New York, tweeted, “I make efforts to apply my learning and think out loud w/ colleagues about what I am doing. I also share my mistakes…”

Don’t think professional learning is confined to education events and conversations with educators. Asked to name the most unorthodox or unusual place they’ve found inspiration, participants named church leaders, youth sports coaches, leadership conferences sponsored by businesses, Walt Disney World, and by watching children interact.

“I’ve referred to my own children as my research & development team,” quipped Melton.

You can check out highlights from #NAESPChat on Storify.

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