Enrollment in teacher preparation programs is down.
Fewer and fewer teacher licenses are being issued.
The teacher shortage is real and it's about to get much worse.
Those of us in education hear these alarming statements all the time. In a time when the demand for highly qualified teachers is at an all time high and the supply of highly qualified teachers is at an all time low, how do you get teachers to chose your district?
It's simple. Get passionate about teacher recruitment.
This school year marks my 12th year of helping to hire teachers. While certainly not the longest career, I've had a hand in hiring over 100 educators to the profession. My experiences have given me a unique opportunity to refine my mindset for hiring, as well as a chance to learn how others approach teacher recruitment.
As I learn more about the teacher recruitment landscape I realize how passive some school districts have become. While some districts are using innovative ideas to attract new staff members, it appears that a majority of schools place teacher recruitment low on the list of priorities. Other aspects of school leadership such as test scores, teacher evaluation, student discipline, and staff morale seem to take precedence over teacher recruitment. What's so ironic about this statement? When you recruit and hire effective teachers, all those other issues take care of themselves.
Certainly, there are some districts that have their pick of the litter when it comes to hiring . In Iowa, it is no secret that a majority of young graduates are hoping to land a job in the Des Moines area. I can't blame them, as when I was a young college graduate having things to do and places to go was as important as landing my first teaching gig.
But if you are outside of Des Moines and the other larger metropolitan areas, you don't have the advantage of being a destination location for college graduates. You must come up with a system that draws candidates to your districts. How do you do this? Get passionate about teacher recruitment.
Below are three principles I follow when searching for outstanding candidates:
Provide Updates: No longer can employers sit back and refrain from reaching out to candidates for weeks at a time during the selection process. Not only is it rude to the applicant, it also reflects poorly on your district. Instead, use frequent communication to inform candidates on know where you stand. Remember, looking for a job is a life changing event. Anything you can do to reduce candidate uncertainty, the better.
Text Message: I can't believe how many employers think text messages are "off limits" when it comes to recruiting candidates. This is how Millennials and Generation Z communicate - get used to it. We use texting all the time to touch base and answer questions for candidates. Think text messaging could get you into legal trouble? Baloney. I have worked closely with lawyers and can tell you that text messages are better than phone calls when it comes to protecting yourself against legal recourse.
Be Transparent: Why are most districts are so secretive about their hiring processes? Sometimes I think school leaders believe they are working for the CIA. It's ok to share information! One example of how we do this is by being up front about our pay range for candidates. We don't play the game of making candidates search through school board minutes or board policy to find salaries. There is no reason to keep information from candidates when the information can be found online.
School districts - it's time to wake up. In a world where highly qualified teachers are becoming harder and harder to find, we can't sit back and expect candidates to flock to our districts. We must find ways to sell our districts to candidates, and it stats by getting excited about the hiring process.
The landscape of hiring teachers is changing. If school districts don't adapt to the changes, they could find themselves with a class full of students and no teacher to teach them...