What Prospective Principals Are Looking for in New Teacher Hires
Jul 29, 2011 Career Development 1819 Views
In this article I give specific information to teaching candidates regarding what principals, in particular, are looking for in new hires.
Due to the No Child Left Behind Act, all school principals, whether elementary, middle or high school, are under increasing pressure to create performing schools. They are faced with:
• Competition with charter schools
• Children who bring more and more behavior and social problems to the classroom
• Declining budgets
• Increased pressure from parents, even as parent involvement declines
• Inclusion of, and special accommodations for, children with disabilities
• A marked increase in the importance of standardized test scores
• More job responsibilities, resulting in less time and more stress
• School report cards
• Community image
In addition, high school principals face pressure to increase graduation rates and college admissions, as well as maintain good sports teams and other extracurricular activities.
Principals have, perhaps, the most stressful and demanding job in a school district. They face pressure to please the superintendent, board of education, parents, and teacher's unions, while at the same time maintaining a focus on what is best for children. Naturally, it is impossible for them to please everyone, resulting in job burn-out.
Most people today do not understand the demands a principal faces on a daily basis. The image of a principal that stands out in most people's heads - typically a (man) in a suit sitting behind a big desk in the office talking on the phone, counseling disruptive students, and holding parent conference - is only a very small portion of the principal's career today.
The effective principal today is rarely in the office. He/she maintains visibility throughout the day doing classroom walk-throughs and observations, monitoring common areas such as bus arrival and dismissal, breakfast and lunch, recess, attending committee meetings and working to prevent discipline and other problems from occurring before they start. Middle and high school principals must also attend and monitor after school activities.
In addition, and probably most importantly, principals today must serve as the instructional leader of the building. The principal is expected to analyze test scores, plan and implement intervention strategies, oversee, or in some cases, lead professional development for teachers and oversee grade level and department meetings.
That being said, principals are looking for quality teachers who can assist them in dealing with all these demands from the variety of constituencies. When looking to get a job as a teacher, find ways to highlight the following characteristics and qualifications which will assist the principal in meeting his or her goals.
1. Energetic: An enthusiastic person with a lot of energy to bring to the table; someone who cares about children.
2. A Great Classroom Manager: The ability to manage a classroom full of challenging children with minimal, if any, assistance from the office. Principals want to walk into your classroom and see at least 90% of your students engaged in the lesson or activity.
3. Knowledgeable: The ability to teach lessons consistent with current theories of best practices teaching strategies which will raise standardized test scores. The ability to teach reading to any child regardless of age level and to individualize lesson plans for the unique needs of each learner is a must.
4. A Family Liaison: The ability to work with and win the trust of parents from diverse backgrounds. Principals do not want phone calls from parents unless it's telling them what a good job you are doing. They want parents who will go out in the community and spread the word about what a good teacher you are.
5. Creative: With very little money available for classroom supplies, principals are looking for teachers who are able to maximize the use of the materials they are given and come up with creative ways to get free materials if necessary. Examples include: willingness/knowledge of writing grants, utilizing websites such as Donorschoose.org, and working with Parent-Teacher organizations to do fundraising, making your own classroom materials or finding them free online.
To summarize, you must showcase your talents in a clear and concise manner. When creating a resume, portfolio, or cover letter, focus on showcasing the above five attributes. During your interview, highlight and continually refer back to the above five attributes.
What attributes do you think are important to principals today?