In the early 1980’s, I became a teacher. I had been hired by a local Catholic parish as a cantor, but was seeking full-time employment in my field. When I was introduced to the parish staff, the principal asked me what I did for a living, and, when I told her that I was between jobs, she asked if I had a college degree. When I said yes, she said, “Would you like to be a teacher?” “Why, yes,” was my response, since I had started in education and changed majors based on my work opportunities while I was in school. I started in the classroom a month later, teaching part-time, and going to school for my education certification.
Fast forward to today, and how the landscape has changed! In the corporate world, one of the suggestions offered by Jim Collins’ “Good to Great” is to first, get the right people “on the bus,” and then, get the right people into the right seats. It starts with “who” if you’re going for a great “what.” Today, the attitude seems to be reversed, as in “We have a great school, so ‘who’ can we hire?”
In the world of educational employment, there are, of course, many hoops to jump through, hurdles to jump over, and walls to either break through, go around or tunnel under. But even more disconcerting are the timelines involved. Public schools start the process early, so candidates can be screened, weeded, and called for first, second and third interviews. Private schools, however, seem to have their own timeline, which can run anywhere from relaxed to frantic, based on the leadership of the school.
That’s not to say that either of these processes are detrimental in their own right. However, when you put the two against one another, it can cause the teacher who is looking to make an impact due to their experience in the classroom, or who is seeking their first (or second or third) full-time employment opportunity a severe amount of stress. Schools are focused on their needs, which means teachers seeking employment may have one foot in one track for the public school experience while the other foot is embedded private school process. If the tracks operate at different speeds, note the unpleasant physical consequences that can result if the incumbent is planning on “keeping all their options open.” More than likely, a decision will need to be made, which could result in schools losing excellent candidates simply because of their “process.”
Realizing the stress that is now placed upon teachers relative to ensuring acceptable achievement levels for their students (most recently, a principal committed suicide after preparing students to “ace” a Common Core test – http://www.educationnews.org/k-12-schools/nyc-principal-commits-suicide-after-common-core-test-cheating/), the continued requirement to learn and utilize new technologies and educational strategies to prepare students for a workforce with jobs that, as one commentator has been quoted as saying, “Don’t even exist yet,” and the need to acquire skills (such as coding, additional language fluency or grantwriting) so they can be incorporated into their daily lesson planning as well as make themselves more valuable to their current or potential employer, the job seeker may wonder if it’s all worth it. Earlier this year, NPR aired a story regarding the “Disappearance” of the teacher (http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/03/03/389282733/where-have-all-the-teachers-gone). As schools ramp up for the 15-16 school year, where will these new stresses begin to cause additional fractures within our educational landscape?