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  • Interviewee: Tom
  • Organization: Boston-area suburban school district
  • Role: Head of human resources
  • Interviewer: Andy Pethan
  • Date: October 2010

Interview notes

Tom is the head of HR in a suburban school district. He is in charge of the hiring process that brings in new teachers. I wanted to learn his perspective to see where public school districts are looking for talent and what kinds of things they are looking for in an applicant. From here, I would like to compare the selection and training process of RTT programs with the background of a teacher getting hired through traditional means, as well as the process a school goes through to help young teachers develop.

The hiring process in Tom's district is very long and thorough:

  • online application
  • interview
  • classroom observation
  • numerous follow-ups with references
  • final interview with head of HR and the superintendent

They are very serious with the entire process. Tom mentioned one classroom observation where his team traveled to Texas to observe class and interview the teacher's peers before considering a teacher for hire. When hiring a new teacher out of college, the process is slightly modified -- instead of asking about their current teaching experience, they ask about student teaching, experiences with kids outside of class, tutoring and summer camp experience, etc.

Here are a few of the things Tom was looking for in a new hire:

  • content mastery of the subject they will be teaching
  • the ability and will to self reflect and improve
  • really loves kids
  • solid pedagogy (left generic)

In order to teach, the teacher must be licensed. A bachelors degree plus a successful passing of the state subject test with get a teacher a preliminary license. After working for five years, a teacher can get earn a professional license.

Some teachers take night classes to earn their masters. For the teachers that attempt this in their early years, Tom has noticed a high attrition rate.

Tom also described their mentor program. Each new teacher is paired with a veteran. Each pair is expected to meet weekly. A mentor will do at least 3 observations of the new teacher for feedback before formal evaluations by the principal. Mentors get together in a small number of large meetings during the year. Tom has seen very little attrition of new teachers in his district.