In July 2015, Key & Peele on Comedy Central previewed a sketch called TeachingCenter where they parodied ESPN’s popular SportsCenter for the world of Education. Although this was an amazingly funny sketch, it made me ponder why educational leaders don’t approach the talent acquisition of teachers like professional sports approaches the talent acquisition of athletes. It is a sad reality that most district HR people will say Amen to when no one else is looking. Finding great teachers only becomes a priority at the last hour, but professional sports teams are always on the lookout throughout the season and not just in the off season.
Let’s take the National Football League for example. The end of February the NFL hosted the biggest job interview week for potential players (Teachers). The NFL Scouting Combine is designed for teams to observe potential draft picks for their skills, talent, character, and knowledge of the game. Hundreds of the top prospects in the country converge on Indianapolis, Indiana prepared to showcase for all of the NFL Teams. The skills test focus on each player’s position and their ability to play that position at the next level. If you’ve ever watched the NFL Combine, you know how amazing it is to see 300lbs linemen run 40 yards in 5 seconds. Analysis spend the entire time critiquing every player’s performance, not just based their combine performance but their overall amateur career. During the Combine head coaches (School Principals) sit and watch, take notes, analyze the talents of the players for the skilled positions they may have available for next season. In reality, they’ve been watching some of these players on tape and using scouts (Human Resources/Recruiters) to check them out during the regular season (the school year/not just the summer) to see if the players (teachers) will be a good fit for what the team (school) needs for the upcoming season. Teams who are really interested will send representatives to visit these players at their universities for ProDay (University Sponsored Job Fairs) that coincidentally are going on this month.
I know some are saying “What?” (Minions voice) to what I just laid out, but let me break it down. Education is the most important institution in the world. Teaching is the most important profession in the world. Educators are the most important professionals in the world. Schools are the most important teams in the world. Yet, some schools and districts don’t focus on recruiting and retaining great talent on a regular basis. Building a pipeline for great talent is only considered during late summer early August, when the best teachers have already been drafted in April. There are some schools that wait until there is a major injury and their top receiver (teacher) is out for the season. Some schools actually hold off for WalkOns, teachers with no credentials, to start off the school year. This is not to say that they will not be a great talent, trust me there have been some amazing professional players that walked onto some NFL Teams that are Hall of Famers.
“What?” Let me say it another way. District Leaders, stop tying the hands of the Human Resources staff when it comes to recruitment of new talent. Keeping them locked up at the central office and not financially supporting them going out to recruit for your district’s needs is counterproductive. Top teams scout, so do Top Districts. Human Resources Professionals, make sure that you are creating an awesome candidate experience for each new candidate interested into your district. Also, pay attention to your franchise players (Top performing teachers) because when you are not planning for the future and they retire or go to another district, well that creates a tremendous hole if you are not prepared. Ask the Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning just announced his retirement, but they’ve already been working with their back-up quarterback Brock Osweiler in preparation for this day. Great teams never miss a step and they have great leadership from former QB and current GM John Elway.
Principals, don’t wait until school is out to think about next school year. Don’t wait until staffing projections have been provided to you by the district to start thinking about teachers for next school year. Great Coaches, Leaders, and Principals are always on it early when it comes to talent. With your finger on the pulse of your team (school) you can tell when your franchise player is planning to leave or when you need to improve your offensive line with stronger and more agile teachers. If you have student teachers currently serving in your school, make sure to check them out and show them why your team is the best team for them to start their career. If you don’t have time to go into their classroom, make sure that you get some film or scouting reports on them. When candidates reach out to you, don’t hesitate to respond. You may not need a running back today, but great running backs are hard to find, so why are you waiting. When Human Resources sends you names of great recruits, contact them now don’t wait. We are not competing against 31 other teams like a NFL does for top talent, we are competing against thousands of teams for a smaller pool of talent. I love competition, don’t you... So let’s compete.
Finally, future players (future teachers) enjoy your upcoming ProDay or Teacher Interview Day at your university. The hard working people at the university put this event together to help you secure the Right Team to begin your Rookie Season. Even though you might think that you want to only play for the New England Patriots because they have so many championships, you might find playing for the New Orleans Saints a more fulfilling opportunity. You might even want to play offensive lineman for the Carolina Panthers to protect Cam Newton, because he needs a stronger and more agile line. You are entering a profession where you will change lives and inspire the future of our world. At the end of each work day, you may not have fans cheering for you or get the opportunity to sign jerseys and merchandise with your name on it. I can honestly tell you the feeling is even better when you see one of your former students signing autographs on Any Given Sunday.
The opinions expressed in Career Corner are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.