Blog posts from Research for Better Teaching

Hiring New Teachers: Candidate Example #3

By Jon Saphier - May 8, 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 Ms. Carta?

Let’s say a teaching candidate, Ms. Carta, walks through your door for an interview. How would you evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of this candidate? Would you hire her? If so, what would you focus on during her induction year into your building?

Based on your interview with Ms. Carta, you discover that she has had a long and successful career as a laboratory scientist. She was a science curriculum developer for a nationally recognized educational think tank and is an expert at unit design and assessment. She is also thoroughly familiar with state standards. Though Ms. Carta has done staff development for teachers around the state on curriculum building, she has never had a class of her own. She is confident that her curriculum experience will enable her to create effective units of instruction, not only for her own class, but for all of the other second grade teachers as well. After your interview with Ms. Carta, you and your team discuss her strengths and weaknesses as a candidate.

What’s the Right Answer?

Ms. Carta’s background is a strong one to bring to a teaching career, but insufficient on its own. We are left wondering, amidst all of her curriculum development expertise, whether Ms. Carta knows how to create a healthy and challenging learning environment for all students. Your team should request that Ms. Carta teach a demonstration lesson to a classroom of students in order to determine whether she has any ability for framing lessons, classroom management, and personal relationship building. Only then can the hiring team make an informed decision about Ms. Carta’s potential to grow into a successful classroom teacher.