Saturday, August 15, 2009

Finding the right fit

Some people believe that great teachers come in a one-size-fits-all package. Not me. There are teachers who would be great, just not at the school I teach at. And there are teachers who would be great only at a school like the one I teach at.
As we continue to search for the right teacher to join our team, I am struck by the nuances present in each interview. This is the first time I've been on the questioning side of the table, so I have learned much about the process and how to look and listen more carefully.
Ultimately, for a school in need of improvement finding the right fit is essential. The candidate must possess content knowlege, high standards, a compassionate heart, a style that invites, familiarity with high stakes test-taking, a deep desire to become a part of the school community, and so much more.
In the end, it is difficult to balance. Which is more important, content or energy? High standards or compassion? Friendly or demanding?


At 10:18 AM , Blogger bun2bon said...

It's tough the other way around too - potential teachers finding the right fit in the schools they want to teach at.

At 11:22 AM , Blogger Braemar said...

Why aren't they showing that there are posts open at the high school? Web site shows nothing but a team coaching position.

Do they have enough candidates for all the openings in the various subjects?

Yes, there are teachers who are great in many places and can not teach your demographic well or do not have the best possible management skills needed. I often think it has to do with being authentic and truly caring that the students learn. That will come through and kids can spot a phony any day.

You listed many qualities and I believe the balance is just a little different than in another DRG. I'd say you do not get so many candidates looking to give their lives over to 24/7 dedication to that job as in easier towns. IMHO

At 6:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't totally agree. I believe that any teacher who cannot find the skills to achieve success in an underachieving school or population is probably not a good fit for any teaching job. There are kids to love and kids to struggle with in any population. I don't agree with your notion, which you have talked about before, that your "skill set" is with college prep kids. I think it does take some extra patience sometimes to deal with special learners but if you can't adjust it just means you haven't tapped into that "teachery" part of you that needs to emerge in those situations.

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At 1:14 PM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

We will continue to disagree on this issue, anon. My own experience is that I can connect with students very well, but I struggle to help low-skilled students make huge gains--some gains, yes. However, I have watched colleagues do exactly what I couldn't do with those low-silled students.
I have also helped "college prep" students make the necessary advancements while those same colleagues struggled to challenge students appropriately.
Great teachers come in many different forms. And while great teaching begins with student/teacher relationships, of which I feel quite accomplished at, we must also recognize the nuances within our discipline. By putting people where they are most successful, and ultimately most comfortable, our schools have a better chance of eliminating the gaps.

At 5:43 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. McNamar,

I agree with you that teaching low skilled students and college prep requires different skills. Not better or worse, just different. This is REALLY obvious at elementary school. The teacher with a lot of high kids has to work to stay ahead of them. The teacher with low kids has to figure out to reach them. Both skill sets are important. But there are different.


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