For the most-part, applying for and being offered a job at a good school is a very challenging process to go through. It’s really hard to get these jobs. But in most schools it’s also really hard to lose your job. You really have to be significantly underperforming and/or behave very unprofessionally.
Teaching jobs are hard to get and easy to keep.
The problem with this setup, particularly in education, is that it’s very difficult – even for highly experienced interviewees – to really predict the future success of an applicant from an interview process. Even if the process involves a lesson observation, the situation is so contrived that the evidence provided can range from truly insightful to completely misleading. So, we don’t always make the best decision and it’s often a decision we’re stuck with.
But what would happen if we reversed the system. What would happen if it was easy to get a job but hard to keep? What if the system was set up to reward real-world performance rather than interview technique?
Of course, this would require a radical rethinking of the educator recruitment process. But it can be done. Many innovative organisations such as Automattic (the people behind WordPress.com) already use ‘job auditioning’ in which all final-stage candidates actually work for the company for 3-8 weeks.
Until we see this level of innovation in education, there are some really exciting data-driven tools beginning to emerge, such as Gallup’s teacher talent selection tool, that can help us make better decisions.
Educator recruitment is part of the education system that has to change soon, that we can change. Choosing the right people to guide the lives of our children is just far too important to leave to a couple of interviews and ‘gut feel’.