Recruiting and retaining good teachers is a challenge for every district. A recent RAND survey found that 44% of teachers who left the profession voluntarily (opens in new tab) during COVID left because of the pandemic. However, some teachers thrived during the pandemic by stepping up to use more technology in their teaching and shifting to more student-centered learning models.
How does a district recruit new teachers with these qualities?
Matt Spets, assistant superintendent in the D.C. Everest Area School District in Wisconsin, says that his district has committed to better benefits, including paid time off and a microcredentialing-based salary schedule that rewards teachers who learn new skills. “By moving to more of a private sector model in giving teachers a voice in how they spend their time off, we honor, energize, and retain them,” he says. “We also hold them accountable for the right things by defining the qualities of effective teaching.”
Spets notes that the skills and traits his district is looking for, such as resourcefulness, initiative, and flexibility, are in short supply. The teachers who thrived during the pandemic are those who took advantage of the new technology platforms and figured out things to serve their students and their families. “I’m in a district with strong fiscal management,” he says. “This allows us to make investments in our teachers and policies that support them, including professional development opportunities and stronger benefits, so we retain good teachers.”
Best Practices for How to Recruit New Teachers
The essential quality in teachers that districts and schools are looking for has not changed, says Gary Loup, CEO of GetaTeachingJob.com (opens in new tab). Education leaders want to hire teachers who are student-centered and committed to achieving positive student outcomes. Now, of course, technology skills are also a priority.
Here are some of Loup’s hiring guidelines to help administrators find the best teachers for their students.
- School leaders should know their faculty and how to build a team, support them, and keep them happy so they want to stay. Teachers do not leave jobs because they don’t like the children. It is usually because they do not feel they have the support of school leaders. Making teachers feel valued leads to retention.
- Principals should spend time on the phone or in person getting to know teachers to determine whether they will be a good fit with the rest of the faculty team. During this process, the teacher also gets to know the principal and the team and determine whether the position and school are a good fit for them.
- Some newer trends, such as using a structured list of questions for applicants, short one-way video interviews, or assessments should not be relied on too heavily, cautions Loup. Engage applicants in conversation and take the time to get a good sense of their potential and then move quickly to hire when you have a strong candidate.
- Teachers want to feel appreciated. They want to be hired because school leaders want them and do not assume that they will take any job that is offered.
“Having a clear sense of the positives your district offers prospective teachers will also help your recruiting efforts,” said Spets, who believes his district has invested in assets that make the district an attractive destination because (in his words):
- We clearly communicate what it means to join our team.
- We offer best-in-class technology for teaching and learning.
- We introduce innovative programs more quickly than other districts.
- We have beautiful learning spaces that we have upgraded with an equity lens. Students all have access to the same learning environment.
- We have invested in improved teacher benefits.
“Our goal is to attract the best candidates in the area, hire them, and invest in their growth,” says Spets. “When we find the right people, we don’t need to hesitate to hire. We have clarity on what we’re looking for.”