I recently visited Ormiston Senior College in Auckland, NZ in preparation for the first Reach Every Student Conference (RESCON). I got a tour from the head of the math department, Subash Chandar, who excitedly shared one thing he does that has changed his school.
The Ormiston math department is not your typical math department. They have embraced a semi Flipped Mastery approach to education. Students progress through workbooks at flexible paces, and when they finish, they are presented with challenging authentic assessments. The assessments are non-Googleable and truly demonstrate student mastery.
The innovative teaching methods at Ormiston Math require a different type of teacher. Teachers lecturing from the front of the room won’t survive in this model.
Thus, one of the most significant problems they have is finding teachers who can adapt to this exciting and innovative approach. Subash shared that his most important job is to find just the right person to hire when they have an open position. He knows if he doesn’t, it is something they may have to live with for a very long time. He sees that one of his most essential jobs is to hire, not just good teachers, but teachers who are ready for innovation in their classrooms. Hiring the “right” teacher is mission critical.
Because of the importance of hiring the right teachers, he realized he needed a different way to evaluate prospective teachers. Instead of just relying on the resume/interview method of hiring, he invites job candidates who will later have an interview to spend a casual day at the school. He tells the candidates that they will spend the day learning about the school and getting any questions answered.
Subash sells this day as casual, but in reality, the casual day is the real interview. He encourages the prospective teachers to interact with other teachers, with students, and just share reactions to what they are seeing. By observing them throughout the day, Subash seeks to answer the following:
This represents a considerable time commitment on Subash’s part. But since he believes that hiring is probably his most significant job, he commits to it. Subash believes this hiring technique has enabled him to build an amazing team of innovative, hard-working, and enthusiastic teachers. He has rock-star teachers who are on the cutting edge, committed to a strong vision, and above all, are there for their students.
If you are looking for ways to hire the best team around you, I encourage you to take the time, as Subash does, to have prospective teachers spend a day with you “learning about your school.” Use that time to get a feel for best fit, and see them in action. Hiring truly is Job #1.