Do you know how to: Recruiting High-Quality Teachers? And how to Attracting Great Teachers to Struggling Schools?
Teacher quality plays a crucial role in the quality of a student’s education. That is why it is so important for schools and districts to recruit highly qualified teachers. Some areas — especially those with underfunded and poorly performing schools — are experiencing teacher shortages and struggling to attract qualified educators. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to find dedicated and talented teachers.
Part 1: Recruiting High-Quality Teachers
- Advertise widely.
The more potential applicants you reach, the greater the odds of finding excellent and committed teachers for your school. Many schools make the mistake of running a limited search, but you are much better off casting a wide net. In addition to the standard school and district job postings, consider:
- online job boards that are specific to education, like School Spring and Education America
- online job boards that serve all career fields, like Indeed and Monster
- classified sections in local newspapers
- classified sections in nearby metropolitan newspapers
- job boards at local and regional colleges and universities, at least those that grant teaching degrees
- Participate in job fairs.
Job fairs attract large numbers of potential teachers, so make the most of them! Hold your own, and be sure to participate in existing local and regional job fairs for teachers.
- Highlight benefits packages and salary supplements.
In general, teaching salaries tend to be low, so it’s important to let potential applicants know what else your school offers. Make sure your advertisements feature information about health insurance, salary supplements, and retirement benefits.
- Sell your school
The best teachers are often looking for a positive work environment and a school that values its educators. Offer examples of ways that your school and district support teachers, including mentor-ship programs, development opportunities, and a collaborative approach to learning.
- Create partnerships with colleges and universities.
Determine which campuses in your area offer teacher preparation programs, and strive to develop a positive working relationship with those schools. It can take some time and effort to build this kind of relationship, but doing so will help you attract new teachers who are looking for their first jobs.
- Have your current faculty and administrators participate in workshops and lectures on these campuses.
- Pair education majors with mentors from your school.
- Make sure to participate in the colleges’ and universities’ student teaching programs.
- Establish recruitment programs with middle and high schools.
Consider taking a more long-term approach to recruitment by encouraging teenagers to explore careers in education. These programs have been very successful in recruiting committed teachers who stay in the field. If your school or district has the resources, you can even implement incentive programs, including:
- financial assistance and scholarships for high achievers who major in education
- fast-tracked training programs to help students get classroom experience as early as possible
- guaranteed jobs for students who meet certain criteria and agree to remain in the teaching field for a predetermined period of time
Part 2: Attracting Great Teachers to Struggling Schools
- Offer financial incentives.
New teachers are sometimes reluctant to take jobs in areas that are struggling economically and at schools that are currently under-performing. This is doubly true if salaries are low. Therefore, if at all possible, address the issue with financial incentives. Even if you can’t afford to pay significantly higher salaries, you can consider:
- offering one-time signing bonuses
- including performance bonuses in the salary package
- participating in government-sponsored loan forgiveness programs
- Work for positive change at your school.
Studies show that monetary incentives may help bring teachers to needy schools, but not if the schools are dysfunctional. Even schools with very low budgets can, at least, implement programs designed to encourage teacher creativity and build a positive, collaborative work environment. Make sure that you are doing all you can to make your school as attractive as possible to potential employees.
- Create mentoring programs.
Some new teachers worry that, for a variety of reasons, they will not perform well in a struggling school. You may be able to mitigate those concerns by implementing strong mentoring programs and pairing new hires with seasoned teachers who can provide guidance and support.
- Look for candidates who want to make a difference.
For some teachers, the challenges of working at an underfunded or struggling school can be construed as positives; they want to feel truly needed. Admit that your school is struggling – you won’t be able to cover it up, anyway – and focus on finding teachers who are committed to helping at-risk children.
- Redouble your local recruitment efforts.
Middle and high school recruitment programs are especially important for schools that struggle. This is because teachers tend to want to serve schools in their own cities and neighborhoods, populated by students who remind them of themselves. Your best future teachers may be in your local schools right now.
- Participate in alternate route certification programs.
If your school is struggling to recruit good teachers, consider participating in programs like Teach for America and The New Teacher Project, which help aspiring teachers on non-traditional paths find work in positions that are traditionally harder to fill.
- Focus on your current employees
Though you may be struggling to find teachers from outside your school, you probably have promising paraprofessionals and teacher’s aides in your classrooms already. Consider helping these people earn their teaching certificates while continuing to work at their current jobs.