Blog posts from Research for Better Teaching

Hiring New Teachers: Candidate Example #2

By Jon Saphier - April 24, 2015

Four very different kinds of skill— planning skills, management skills, motivational skills, and instructional skills — enable effective classroom teaching. All of these skills are essential to improving student learning. Unfortunately, we rarely get new teacher candidates with all four. Let’s look at an example of a hypothetical candidate.

Should You Hire Mr. Militor?

Let’s say a teaching candidate, Mr. Militor, walks through your door for an interview. How would you evaluate his strengths and weaknesses? Would you hire him? If so, what would you focus on during his induction year into your building?

Based on your interview and class observation, you discover that Mr. Militor is an expert classroom manager. Students behave well throughout the lesson, and the routines go like clockwork. Students seem to feel safe and secure in his room, free to participate in class and be themselves. His references say that Mr. Militor has good relationships with parents and other teachers. Though his pedagogical knowledge is limited, Mr. Militor follows his curricula closely and is pleased that this school has purchased nationally recognized text and curriculum kits. After your interview with Mr. Militor, you and your team discuss his strengths and weaknesses as a candidate.

What’s the Right Answer?

It’s clear that Mr. Militor comes with a foundation of good assets. If he is hired, the task will be to coach him to stretch his repertoire of teaching skills, and to guide him toward becoming a “thinker” about his curriculum. His induction year should include a rigorous agenda for developing the repertoire of pre-assessing his students, identifying misconceptions, error analysis, and re-teaching students who did not get it the first time around. Setting this professional development agenda for Mr. Militor early on is key toward ensuring his lessons at your school are rigorous and thorough. He needs to know that curriculum guides and kits should be treated as resources, not instructional sets.