Upsides to Teacher Hiring From Pandemic Panic

Type: Article
Topics: District & School Operations, School Administrator Magazine, Technology

June 01, 2022

The author’s study found administrators using modified practices for more effectively evaluating talent through virtual interviewing
Laurie Kimbrel
Researcher Laurie Kimbrel discovered virtual interviews attracted better-qualified teachers, though participants missed the connection of in-person job hiring. PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF WEST GEORGIA, CARROLLTON, GA.

After two years of constant changes and struggles to respond to a global pandemic, school leaders had great hope for a return to normalcy by spring 2022. As masking and other mitigation debates begin to wane, school district leaders are settling into a new normal of the possibility of additional coronavirus variants, operating budgets without the boost of one-time federal relief funds, and teacher and staff turnover rates that feel unsurmountable.

For most of the 2021-22 school year, high-profile issues such as students’ learning recovery, emotional wellness and masking have appropriately taken center stage. However, now that we have entered our third teacher hiring season after the onset of COVID‑19, school leaders need to refocus on strategies to recruit, hire and retain skilled teachers who ensure high levels of student learning.

Even before the pandemic, hiring effective teachers had become a challenging assignment for principals. With hiring decentralized in most school districts, principals are left responsible for teacher selection. Principals who’ve been recruited from the ranks of teachers are unlikely to have extensive training in human resources. As a result, significant variations exist in how teachers are hired, leaving an unevenness in teacher quality.

The most common pre-pandemic hiring process involved face-to-face, conversational interviews, which offered minimal opportunity to accurately assess a candidate’s pedagogical skills. Reliance on a conversation as a hiring strategy has led well-intentioned leaders to make judgments based on subjective factors such as appearance, confidence, eye contact, enthusiasm, knowledge of the school district and ability to sell oneself rather than factors that accurately predict teaching ability.

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