Saturday, August 10, 2013

Why I Lead... #savmp

Principal Haldane
Principal Haldane (Photo credit: Preus museum)
Three years ago, George Couros started something awesome: Connected Principals. I have been contributing all along and learning tons from reading the other principals. Connected Principals has been a cornerstone of how I share and learn.

So, when George announced the School Administrators Virtual Mentor Program (SAVMP), I jumped in. I have made contact with my "mentees" and this is my first "assignment" from George. The prompt is: "Why I Lead."

Easy, peasy, mac and cheesy.

I lead because I love it. I am a principal because I love it. I love the challenges; I love the excitement; I love the successes; I even love the failures. Ok, maybe I don't love the failures, but they are an important part of the job.

I lead because of students like Johnny (name changed to protect the not-so-innocent). Johnny is one of those kids that drive teachers crazy - can't sit still, can't stay quiet, totally unredeemable. Except of course, that is, until we figured him out a little bit more. An army of school staff tried and failed over three years to figure him out, but finally this past year, we came up with the right plan. Johnny finished the year with many weeks without an office referral. His spring assessments showed tons of growth. Kids like Johnny are why I lead.

I lead because of teachers like Jane (again, name changed to protect the not-so-innocent). Five years ago, Jane, a long time elementary teacher, let everyone know that computers were not worth it, and not for her. Something changed, Jane asked for help from a colleague and got started learning how to use and teach with computers. Today (just a few before she reitres), Jane is the building leader in having kids use technology. She is transforming her teaching in her final years. Teachers like Jane are why I lead.

I lead because I love it.

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hire Ground in School Hiring #edchat #savmp

With the school year only a few weeks away, this administrator is finally about to wrap up the process of hiring all the staff I need for the year.

It all started this spring...

Due to changes in grant funding, a para-educator getting a teaching job, and one of my best teachers leaving to become a principal, I found myself finishing the school year in June with three unanticipated openings. Now, many hours later, many resumes later, many interviews later I am just about done. Two candidates have signed on and the last one has a little more work to do to make her final decision.

The process of hiring is time-consuming and one of the most important tasks for a principal.

It starts with creating the ad. In Vermont, most schools use to post jobs and collect resumes.

Aspiring to be a connected principal, I use many of the built-in features of school spring instead of just printing resumes and going old-fashioned route. I let schoolspring manage the process for me wherever possible first by setting up evaluation rounds where, as resumes come in, I evaluate them based on their experience education and other factors.

Then, I select the best of the group (three to five candidates usually) and let SchoolSpring do the work of setting up interviews. I have to choose dates and times, but then SchoolSpring sends emails to the candidates. The day before the interview, I make sure that the team has seen the resumes and knows the schedule.

The team, what team? Well, I rarely interview alone. You see, I truly believe in collaborative decision-making. I have seen the power of the group in making better hiring decisions than I would have alone. So, I gather a tem to interview.

My interview process pretty typical. I usually add my favorite question, "What are you reading these days?" Or, "What is your favorite book?" I am fascinated by the range of answers. Some candidates think I am asking about professional reading. Others gush about the latest best seller. Last year, one candidate blushed, stammered, and said, "Fifty Shades of Grey." Two women on the team blushed too and admitted they were reading it too. I hired her.

The are many things to look for when hiring teachers and paraprofessionals, but I have one characteristic that outweighs everything else: attitude. I've written about attitude before (here and here.)

I am not willing to hire even the most brilliant skilled teacher if I detect a bad attitude. This is how I maintain the hire ground.

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