How many things are more nerve-wracking and challenging than interviewing for a job? Teachers are not used to speaking about themselves; we feel much more comfortable singing the praises of our students. I believe that makes it difficult for educators to perform well in their “time to shine”. No matter how much preparation takes place, I always feel I could have done a better job.
Because I teach, I know this: the growth and achievement of my students depends heavily on the feedback they receive. The feedback I provide as a teacher can inspire a student to improve a project, challenge him or her to set more rigorous goals, and have a sense of pride and accomplishment. With the opportunity to foster a true growth mindset, not providing quality feedback throughout a class is a truly missed opportunity.
Teachers grow to expect feedback for their performance as well, particularly when it is solutions-oriented and actionable. Aye, there lies the rub. When teachers interview for positions most of the time, whether they are lateral transfers to other schools, or leadership positions being pursued, the response following an interview (if any) sounds something like this:
Thank you for your interest in the position of insert desired position. Although your application was very strong, we have decided to move forward with other candidates at this time. Insert generic compliment and expression of appreciation.
Those statements never leave a candidate with suggestions for improvement. In fact, it elicits frustration, which I know is never the intent of an organization. Still, though, teachers are left asking themselves the same questions every time:
1. Why not me? (A valid question)
2. What can I do to grow from this experience?
3. What feedback can you provide from my performance during the interview?
4. Why, if I know how important feedback is to students, do organizations not know how important feedback is for teachers?
5. In the interest of growth, why do HR procedures trump best practices in teaching?
I make this plea to all organizations, public and private, whose work involves hiring individuals from the education field, to consider a different, more personalized approach to the. Candidates understand they must carve out a niche to stand out among a plethora of applicants. Organizations have this same opportunity, to recognize and respect an individual’s desire to grow, by taking the time to help facilitate that process. If not, educators will continue to be confused, discouraged, and possibly feel that the touchstones of supporting educator growth only apply to those already part of an organization.