Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The qualities of a “quality” teacher candidate

A friend of mine once said that when she is interviewing potential teacher candidates she looks for evidence of two items before even considering the possibility of moving the candidate further along in the hiring process.  These two things are:

  1. A passion for their teaching subject (or grade level as the case may be).
  2. Sincerely enjoys working with students.

I agree with her assessment, but only as a litmus test for whether or not the candidate should move forward in the hiring process.

So, as a potential teacher or a teacher looking for a fresh start in a new school, what additional qualities or skills are important to demonstrate in the hiring process?  Here are a few additions to the list that I have compiled based on my own experiences in recruiting and interviewing educators.  They are in no specific order of importance.

  • Are you an early adopter or an user of technology?  The technologically opposed educator often costs too much in time and energy to make it a sustainable relationship.  You don’t need to be an expert, only willing and/or able to embrace the role of technology in schools.
  • Uses positive language rather than negative.  I want someone who’s natural response to situations is what they CAN do rather than what they CANNOT.
  • Disciplined and effective communicator.  Can you make your point clear and interesting in a way that invites your audience to engage rather than tune you out.
  • A reader.
  • Has a vision for their classes and a plan to work towards that vision that reflects an emphasis on ethical and moral professional practices.
  • Is willing and able to be collegial as well as congenial.
  • A team player, not a clock watcher.
  • Has an active life outside of “work”.
  • Views families as partners with distinct roles in the education of the student.
  • Enjoys and seeks opportunities to grow professionally and engage in a network of educators.

The qualities I list above are what I consider those of a mature, professionally minded educator.  You will notice that I do not specifically mention items such as years of experience, certificates earned, and formal educational background.  While all of those are important, I have found that they are only as important as they have supported the qualities in action as I describe above.  In other words, a certified teacher with years of experience and an advanced degree from a quality university does not guarantee an effective teacher, though those accomplishments do certainly point to the candidate having been exposed to the opportunity to develop and employ those qualities.

Being an educator is a demanding profession that requires both a solid foundation in methods of teaching as well as subject matter knowledge.  In the end, there is likely to be a good fit somewhere for anyone who embraces that challenge and works for the betterment of the student, the school, and one’s profession.

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