Faced with the enviable challenge of picking new teachers from a much-expanded pool of applicants, Chicago principals are about to get a lesson on how to make the right choices.
Under an initiative approved by the Chicago school board last week, 100 of the district’s school leaders will receive training in such skills as marketing their schools and interviewing potential hires.
Nancy Slavin, the director of recruitment and workforce planning for the 431,000-student system, said efforts to attract teachers to the city have hiked the ratio of resumes to openings from 2-to-1 to about 10-to-1 since 2002.
While welcome, the jump created a dilemma in the district, where schools do their own hiring.
“We had principals who were making decisions too quickly, hiring the first person who came along, and others who were overwhelmed,” Ms. Slavin said.
A focus of the new training will be on making the best fit between teachers and schools. Workshops will cover how to turn an assessment of a school’s needs and characteristics into a set of customized interview questions.
The training will be organized by the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit consulting group based in New York City. Initially focused on helping district recruitment efforts, the New Teacher Project recently began training principals on recruiting in Baltimore.
“Principals can’t just generally be looking for the person who meets the certification or credential requirement,” said Michelle Rhee, the chief executive officer of the New Teacher Project. “They have to look for the kind of person who is going to be a good complement to their school.”
Slated to be offered over six sessions this coming winter, the Chicago training will be given to a combination of new principals and principals at schools with high teacher turnover or low student performance, said Ms. Slavin.
If it’s successful, she said she’d like to offer the training to more Chicago principals in the next school year.
“We think it’s the missing piece,” she said. “We have the candidates, and we have principals who are interested in making a difference in achievement, so how do we help them facilitate hiring in the best possible way?”
A version of this article appeared in the October 04, 2006 edition of Education Week