The Blueprint: What Leaders Look for in Educators

Melissa Payne

Although it seems like the school year has just begun, school districts around the country have already kicked off their recruiting efforts to hire for next academic year. As someone recruiting and selecting educators, I’m often asked: What are principals looking for? Who is the ideal candidate? The truth is, it’s simple and complicated at the same time.  

The qualities that make up a just right candidate are often like the unique pieces to a beautiful mosaic. They are a mix of attitudes, beliefs, competencies and characteristics that often intersect. Some principals struggle to define in exact words their ideal hire. Seriously, don’t be surprised if you ask a principal somewhere what they are looking for and they reply, I just know a good teacher when I see one.  However, when we are hiring educators who do the very important work of empowering students to succeed socially and academically, we need more precision than that. Knowing it when you see it is not a strategy; we aren’t selecting wedding dresses. We need to be intentional with hiring. 

When I began hiring at Meeting Street Schools, I made it a point to sit with leaders to identify their profile of a great hire, and you better believe they knew the exact type of educators they wanted teaching and leading kids everyday. The educators we hire are important because as Jennifer Gonzalez from The Cult of Pedagogy so beautifully pinpoints, “To stand before children—share physical space with them day after day—is a rare privilege. In every minute we spend together, they will learn something. Whatever it is we put before them, they will learn from it.”  Knowing what you are looking for in a hire is important in any industry, but in education it can be life changing. A teacher can impact the life trajectory of dozens and sometimes hundreds of kids over the course of only one academic year. 

Keep reading below to learn more about what we look for in educators at Meeting Street Schools.

Status Quo Disruptors: Those who believe that ALL kids can learn and that an excellent education should be a birthright.

MSS was founded on the belief that all students can learn and deserve the opportunity to receive high-quality education, regardless of their socio-economic background. It is our belief that a student’s zip code should not determine their access to education. At MSS, we believe in a holistic approach to education and work to provide any and all resources that facilitate student success in the classroom and beyond. We tear down barriers and build bridges so our students have a pathway to their greatest social and academic potential. In the classroom our status quo disruptors have high expectations for all kids. Their brand as an educator is excellence and nothing less!

Growth Mindset Gurus: Those that understand they will always be on a journey to learn and grow. They understand potential lies in every lesson and interaction.

Our teachers lead with bold humility. Growth mindset gurus know there is always something to learn, especially in our struggles and failures.  The productive struggle is our springboard to success.  We believe in taking Dr. Dweck’s scientific work from university research labs to the learning labs that are our classrooms and coaching conversations. These are the spaces where the magic of growth happens. Teacher mindsets are the first step to getting anything done in the classroom.  Therefore we look for and continue to develop our teachers in this way. Teachers with a growth mindset understand they don’t know everything, and they understand that they will encounter challenges. They have an awareness of human fallibility. They are teachable. When things don’t go as planned, they bounce back.

Academic Athletes: Those who wake up with fire in their veins, energized to do this work everyday. When it’s hard. When it’s overwhelming. When it’s nuanced. They don’t give up. They don’t wait for the opportunity to get better; they chase it down.

We are looking for passionate educators and leaders who are clear in their thinking about what is possible for students and who have an unyielding work ethic, hunger to learn and sense of optimism.  Teaching is hard work. As a veteran educator, let me tell you, don’t believe the hype about summers off and extended holiday vacations. Educators don’t get days off. There are no bye weeks in the classroom, and your favorite NFL player has nothing on your neighborhood educator. Educators that are academic athletes are reflecting on and planning for how to get better for their students around the clock. They are planning lessons in their head in the shower, in the produce department at their local grocery store, and even in their sleep. 

Cool Nerds:  Those who use learning to develop themselves and others into content experts because learning is lit (see what I did there).

At MSS being a nerd and total geek about teaching and learning has positive connotations. More importantly, it produces positive outcomes for kids. We believe in the brilliance of Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy, that explores the relationship between teacher, student and society. Simply put teachers must be actively engaged in learning if students are to do the same.  Ideally we build a society, and at the very least a school community, that revolves around learning.  At MSS we are excited about learning, and we look for that in the people we hire. Being a cool nerd is something we expect to be modeled everyday for students. It is a necessity. If our students are expected to be focused on growing their brains bigger, as educators, we have to do the same. Cool nerds are: education blog subscribing, feedback seeking, colleague observing, question asking, workshop attending, multiple-book reading, certification endorsement building, continuing education exploring nerds!  

Does this sound like you? Our Lead Teacher and Teaching Fellow applications open on November 2nd, and we want to meet you! Email recruiting@meetingstreetschools.org to get connected with a member of our talent team today!

 

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