Finding the Right Teacher

Fina Charleson

Fina’s background lies in education - mostly from the side of being taught. Now giving it back through working at an edtech startup, she works with inspiring school leaders and teachers using the app TeacherWise, which connects schools and teacher directly to arrange work. When not doing this, she is often caught podcasting, hiking somewhere or with a large pot of tea.

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Image credit: Flickr // Ethan Image credit: Flickr // Ethan

We all know our most inspiring teachers from school; they’re the ones that believed in you. They got you to where you are today, and that’s the quality you should compare to. So why does it have to be so hard finding the right teacher?

Teacher recruitment is tough. References might be misleading, while "friendly" heads suddenly start fighting dirty for that Physics teacher that's new to the area. Meanwhile agencies are squeezing money from tightened school purse strings. So, how do we find the right teachers in such a system? Here are a few ideas...

Ask for a video recording of their teaching

As part of the interview process, it’s the way to demonstrate teaching quality. Headteacher Peter Tait writes on the Telegraph that “teaching is all about the relationship between teacher and pupil more than anything else”. It takes two minutes of footage to know whether someone has what it takes to create the right relationship “It takes two minutes of footage to know whether someone has what it takes.”between them and their class.

Public endorsements, not just references

We’re talking references on steroids. Can another school be willing to publically endorse this teacher? If so, they’re proud to show this individual to the rest of society. If not, it’s time think carefully if this is the right teacher. We all know how flimsy references can be – we’ve all been there. It’ll give the referee a double take if they don’t think the teacher is the best; because their reputation is attached to that teacher endorsement now.

Look for the unqualified

If they hold qualifications, just imagine if they didn’t: would you still support them and help them work towards a qualification? If your answer is yes, they’re a keeper. If not, it’s a case of all-talk-no-walk syndrome. They may have all the qualifications to the moon and back, but can they engage with a testing group of prepubescent kids? Equally, if you support teachers with big ambitions to obtain certain teaching qualifications, they’re going want to stick by you and not drop out after a few months.

Looking for Supply Teachers? Avoid the agency

The NUT says that agencies exploit teachers by paying below the national rate. Stray away from those cats. Explore recruiting technology options in your area, and use more humbling jobs boards like Escape The City. TeachFirst are on there. Or even catch top millennial teachers by just connecting more on social media.

Think outside the box

Host a speed dating event. Do a sponsored teacher conga. Get other local schools in your area to meet these teachers. Good teachers are picky too. “Would you help a teacher work towards a qualification?”So give them a reason why you’re one hell’uva school to work for, by building your brand much like a business does.

Ultimately your biggest test is the children. No matter how qualified, how charismatic, how many years they’ve taught, if you can’t see much inspiration amongst the children, you’re wasting your money and the children’s future. There’s a lot to consider for safeguarding. There’s a lot to consider quality. But there’s a lot of consider for children.

This is list is by no means the end. School leaders, let’s hear it all. What do you find helps? What doesn’t help?

Let Fina know below!

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