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Building a Great School Faculty


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Tips on recruiting, hiring, induction, professional development, and building strong professional culture to support teacher retention.

Tips on recruiting, hiring, induction, professional development, and building strong professional culture to support teacher retention.

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  • 1. BUILDING A FACULTY Recruiting, Training, and Retaining the Finest Teachers Peter Gow for The Canadian Association of Independent Schools October 2008
  • 2. Some general thoughts
    • We are professional optimists who inhabit little would-be Utopias in the hope that our ideals will take root and spread.
    • Our actions and practices must transcend the mediocrities and compromises of the external culture to enact our values and our missions.
    • As teachers, administrators, and staff we have to aspire to the greatness that is embedded in the values and missions of our schools.
    • We owe it not just to ourselves and our students but to the future of this planet to become as good as we can possibly be at our work.
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 3. 1. Pre-Hiring, Recruiting, and Hiring Some principles, practices, and reflections
  • 4. Some principles of hiring
    • Hire to further the school’s mission
    • Each hire is an opportunity for school improvement and advancement
    • Hiring is for keeps
    • Match is everything
    • Students’ interests come first
    • Patience is a virtue
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 5. Pre-hiring reflection I
    • What is the essential task of teachers at the school?
    • What “glue” binds the community? Where is the school community’s “center of gravity”?
    • What is unique about the school? How or where do teachers see or experience this?
    • What are the special rewards and challenges of teaching at the school?
    • Does the school culture truly support and value people who bring or raise new ideas?
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 6. Pre-hiring reflection II
    • Collect and use exit-interview data
    • Reflection on success
      • Who are we?
      • Who has succeeded here? (“The successful teacher is …”)
      • Who has struggled here?
    • Needs assessment—beyond the obvious
      • Community needs on a cultural/moral level?
      • Broader programmatic needs and desiderata?
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 7. Hiring thoughts
    • Don’t hire just to get the process over with
    • Be clear about academic freedom, classroom autonomy, and institutional initiatives
    • Be clear about expectations and challenges, too—“informed consent”
    • Consider the “ages and stages” of recruited candidates. What do they want to know? What can you do to meet the distinct needs of older or more experienced “new” teachers?
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 8. Recruiting
    • Prospective teachers are an important marketing audience for the school
    • Cast the widest net you can afford
    • Demand good service from any “middle man”—you’ll get out what you put in
    • Walk the walk of diversity—find the resources and sources, and utilize them
    • Build connections and create links wherever you can: universities, teacher organizations, industry
    • Not a plug, but the U.S. agencies are willing to serve ( Cave : Agencies can be helpful, but over-dependency can miss great candidates)
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 9. Recruiting ideas
    • Make employment webpages informative, dynamic, comprehensive, and inviting
    • Have important work-related materials downloadable from your site
    • Consider print recruiting materials (does CAIS have a little monograph on this?)
    • Create links (digital or otherwise) to community resources that will help promote the cause (realtors, religious institutions, cultural and recreational resources)
    • Sell the advantages of your community
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 10. Hiring/recruiting miscellany
    • Consider a bounty system for hiring referrals
    • Be clear about whether internal candidacies will be considered—post consistently
    • E-mail chatter regarding candidates is a very, very bad idea
    • Exceed statutory minimums in background and credential checks
    • Consider hiring work—fairs, interviewing—as leadership development
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 11. 2. The New Teacher Experience What all teachers new to a school need
  • 12. Some key teacher aspirations
    • To be taken seriously as an adult person
    • To be good at one’s craft
    • To be recognized for being good
    • To be inspired and supported to become even better—with resources, feedback, encouragement
    • Just to be Mr.. Chips—to have warm, rich professional and personal relationships
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 13. A glance back into (my) time
    • Autonomy (touted) = isolation (sad fact of life)
    • Half a day’s induction and mentoring, followed by trial and error (and here some intelligent design beats survival of the fittest)
    • Professional development a matter of inclination; Bartleby could prefer not to
    • No one came into your classroom unless they were lost or you were in trouble
    • Evaluation encoded in the size of your raise
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 14. What new teachers need
    • LOTS of academic and classroom management support
    • Access to necessary resources (books and chalk, but email and server, too)
    • Trustworthy peers; help in recognizing friends and foes
    • Knowledge of local norms, local standards
    • Life-management support
    • Useful, focused, non-judgmental feedback
    • Identity in the community
    • Authentic appreciation
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 15. Best practices in induction
    • Create a point person for new teacher programming
    • The goal is to bring new people up to speed in
      • Valued skills and techniques
      • Assumptions about teaching and learning
      • School idiosyncrasies—language, traditions, procedures, structure
      • School culture
    • Build in time for interaction with lots of peers and administrators; include parents, if you can.
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 16. Induction and orientation
    • Priorities (think like an anthropologist!):
      • Culture and values
      • People and hierarchies
      • Language
      • Curriculum
      • Policies and procedures
      • Geography and resources
    • Another anthropological tip: Think of, support, and utilize each year’s intake as a cohort
    • A comprehensive teacher handbook is a huge benefit to all teachers
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 17. Best practices in mentoring
    • Structure time to achieve specific goals that acknowledge the year’s trajectory.
    • Mentors should be passionate about teaching and about your school as well as wise owls, cheerleaders, great listeners, and—above all—optimists.
    • Mentoring should not be evaluative or supervisory.
    • Proximity on campus matters more than most other factors in successful relationships.
    • Mentoring is a leadership-development opportunity.
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 18. 3. Some Nuts & Bolts in Teacher Retention What every school should be thinking about
  • 19. Some key satisfaction and retention factors
    • School culture matters as much as money and benefits
    • Maximize positive factors
      • Location
      • Benefits
      • Perks of membership in the school community
    • Compensate for negatives
      • Geography—help teachers connect to resources
      • Social (i.e., dating) opportunities—be creative!
      • Remuneration limitations—warm culture, smart spending
    • Comprehensive professional development helps
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 20. Compensation issues (NAIS, 2007)
    • Important that pay be comparable to other local school salaries, including public
    • Moderate to high satisfaction when salaries are comparable to other independent schools
    • For those planning to leave education but not retire, the most frequently mentioned reason was to increase their salary to be able to provide for themselves and their families
    • Desire for transparency in how salaries and raises are determined
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 21. Factors in teacher satisfaction
    • (From 2007 NAIS Teacher Satisfaction Survey)
    • High Importance/High Satisfaction
      • Positive interactions with students
      • When teaching style matches school culture
      • Manageable class sizes
      • Engaged students
      • Safe work environment
      • Adequate room, supplies, and equipment
      • Positive interactions with parents
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 22. Factors in teacher satisfaction
    • (From 2007 NAIS Teacher Satisfaction Survey)
    • High Importance/Low Satisfaction
      • Being able to balance work and personal life
      • Affordable cost of living
      • Affordable housing
      • Diverse faculty
    • Not so good, either, when benefits don’t conform to needs: child care, tuition remission, elder care, support for housing
    • An observation: When a faculty gets itchy about job descriptions, there’s something else going on
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 23. Some thoughts on benefits
    • Design benefit programs by age and family situation
    • It’s not just ages and stages; read up on how Millennials, Xers, Boomers, and Echo Boomers view responsibility, authority, autonomy, work/life balance, and rewards
    • Put limited resources where they will do the most good; include faculty in the design of programs
    • Creativity is critical; so is avoiding the creation of categories that appear privileged
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 24. Some heterodox thoughts on satisfaction
    • Some turnover is good: new blood, new opportunities, new strengths.
    • Change is challenging. A school experiencing transition may seem like a school with “low satisfaction”—this may be real, but it may not be all bad if the “change” will ultimately make the school a better place
    • Hence: Don’t avoid necessary institutional change to avoid friction with teachers; the good ones will understand. (But do it well!)
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 25. More thoughts on satisfaction
    • School culture is the most significant aspect that schools can control without significant expense:
      • Communication
      • Visibility of leadership
      • Recognition and appreciation of effective work
      • Opportunities for authentic growth
      • Transparency of decision-making
      • Involvement of teachers in policy decisions
    • Paternalism is no longer a good model, if it ever was
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 26. 4. School Culture and Professionalism How to increase satisfaction and retention
  • 27. Some hard truths
    • A vibrant professional culture is not enthusiastic eccentrics operating in isolation, tolerated by one another and celebrated as embodying in the aggregate a school’s commitment to teaching.
    • 2. A focused and mission-driven approach to curriculum and pedagogy (and hence professional development) is in some conflict with the traditional autonomy afforded independent school teachers — but these can be kept in balance
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 28. Some ideas on school culture
    • Keep channels of communication open between administrators and faculty
    • Actively seek faculty input on school-wide issues and decisions
    • Schedule occasional interactive sessions between governors and faculty so faculty members understand how the board operates
    • Make a first priority of building a strong professional culture through collaboration, supported innovation, and thoughtful, mission-driven professional development
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 29. More school culture ideas
    • Use exit interviews with teachers to gather feedback on satisfaction, “hidden” issues
    • Stay on top of :
      • Teachers’ personal issues and needs in the context of adult development
      • Best practices in professional development
      • Best practices in salary and benefit programming
      • Best practices in school governance and decision-making
    • If your school hasn’t yet enumerated standards for effective teaching, soon is a good time to do this work (and it’s not hard)
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 30. Great professional development
    • Is carefully planned around the mission and strategic goals of the school
    • Serves identified institutional needs as well as individual aspirations of teachers
    • Puts resources where they will do the most good
    • Is for everyone (no oversights, no escapees)
    • Acknowledges individual capacities but holds all to high standards of participation and action
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 31. Another kind of P.D.
    • Professional collaboration can be powerful in-house professional development
    • Create collaborative structures that allow individuals to work in small groups focused on specific ideas with specific goals
    • (Protect time for this kind of collaboration)
    • Make it possible for departments, grade-level teams, or ad hoc groups to retreat for a day or an afternoon
    • (Reliable, competent substitutes make doing this much, much easier)
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 32. P.D. and the Bottom Line
    • A few premises, as points to ponder:
    • A school’s resources are finite.
    • An independent school trades on the quality of the educational experience it offers.
    • That quality is enhanced by the expertise and professionalism of its faculty.
    • Professional development is the equivalent of R&D for independent schools.
    • Funding a comprehensive, broad-based, equitable professional development program is good for the bottom line (all the bottom lines, in fact).
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 33. Great professional evaluation
    • Connects to the school’s articulated standards for effective teaching
    • Connects to personal and professional growth goals
    • Is simple, clear, and do-able
    • Is about meaningful feedback, dialogue, self-evaluation, and reflection
    • Includes ALL aspects of a teacher’s work
    • Includes multiple points of view
    • Is consistent, including and especially insofar as it is part of a contractual process
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 34. Resources
    • Handout notes from this presentation (CAIS website)
    • NAIS Teacher Satisfaction Survey (2007)
    • NAIS Principles of Good Practice for the Hiring Process (2006) and for Supervisors of Teachers (1990)
    • Michael Brosnan, Guide to Hiring and Retaining Teachers of Color (AISNE, 2002)
    • The Conference Board et al., Are They Really Ready to Work? (2006)
    • Gow, An Admirable Faculty (NAIS, 2005)
    • The Admirable Faculties blog:
    • Your school attorney or CAIS for special issues and circumstances
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow
  • 35. I’m done
    • But now please tell your neighbor what two ideas or practices that you will take away from this presentation.
    • I’d be interested to know, too, if you want to send me an email:
    • [email_address]
    18 October 2008 Building Faculties—P. Gow