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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hiring Teachers in the Digital Age

http://www.flickr.com/photos/billselak/
     Yesterday and today I was honored to be interviewing candidates for 2 positions at our school. Honored, yes, because in these trying economic times the candidates came to us with incredible resumes. Teacher positions are hard to come by and only the best (or luckiest) are getting hired. Add to that the fact that our school is considered to be a great school, where innovators of education reside, and there really isn't a dearth of applications.

     An added strangeness to this school year is the fact that school districts were late to the game in releasing openings for positions. This was directly linked to the late passage of the state budget.

     So, here we are 3 weeks until students are coming through our door, and we are just starting the interview process. Our principal had narrowed the more than 70 applications down to a dozen or so. Many of these came with recommendations from people at the University of Texas and Texas State University and were easy pushes to the interview round.

     And so with laptop and iPad in hand we entered the room to sort through our interviewees. I had an initial list of questions on the iPad Notes app and was able to (if needed) do more extensive searches with my laptop. (Note: that was only the case because I've only had my iPad for a month or so and I really don't have my driver's license for it yet).

     When the interviewer came in I would try to tell them that I was going to be keeping notes on my iPad and that I wasn't reading emails or on twitter during the interview. Two of the interviews were held via Skype and so I didn't have to make a reference to using my iPad.

     What I found myself doing was a quick Google search of their name while they were introducing themselves. I would look to see if there were any interesting things that popped up on the first page, good or bad. None had anything bad come up by the way. But I was able to pull up school websites and see what the environment of the school they were coming from, or had done student teaching at, was like.

     If they threw out that their school had 80% Low SES (an indicator of students on free or reduced lunch) I could pull up those statistics to see if they were trying to sway us with these numbers (again, none were wrong). And, I could instantly see that there were some things (all good) that hadn't really been pushed to the forefront. One candidate was the Head Baseball Coach at his high school and another was on the U.S. Paralympic Team at the Nagano Olympics and brought home a Medal!

     Should we have had time to do a more extensive study of our candidates I would have checked their Twitter stream (if they had one), their LinkedIn Profile (if...), or their Facebook Profile and status.  Because that's where we are these days.  Nothing is, or should be, a secret unless it is so small it is insignificant.  For example our district is pretty conservative.  Although what you do in your private life is of little importance to me, there are people who would take offense to what you do if you are involved in something that's, say, less than Christian.

     And so we forwarded a couple of names to our principal and one of those will become part of our Manor New Tech staff.  We feel very blessed because there wasn't one candidate that I interviewed that I wouldn't be happy to work with.   When I find out the selection I'll have to invite them to twitter and Facebook and see if they are the type I would send a Google + account to.  Only then will we really be connected as a co-teacher.