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The need for schools to recruit high-quality teachers is paramount and has been further exacerbated by the pandemic. In January 2021, almost one-quarter of United States teachers surveyed indicated that they planned to leave their current teaching position by the end of the academic year (Steiner & Woo, 2021). This number has increased from previous averages, in which only one in six expressed a similar intention. Furthermore, only 69% of teachers indicated they intended to teach until retirement age (Zsmmaro, Camp, Fuchsman, McGee, 2021).
These startling statistics reinforce two major concerns for all schools, including those in international settings. Firstly, there is an immediate need to address and improve working conditions to support the retention of quality teachers. Secondly, schools must be prepared to address teacher shortages and use recruitment practices that will help guarantee classroom vacancies will be filled – not just with teachers, but with effective teachers (Steiner & Woo, 2021). The significance of recruiting quality teachers cannot be underscored, as student success hinges on a student's placement with an effective teacher (Stronge, 2010).
When recruiting new teacher candidates, it is important to be mindful of the considerations that influence a teacher’s decision to enter, remain, or depart the teaching profession. Podolsky, Kini, Bishop, and Darling-Hammond (2016) identified selected major factors that impact a teacher’s decision and how schools may subsequently respond. Here is a selection of four of those factors:
- Competitive pay. Schools should be aware of how their compensation structure compares to competing schools and should adjust their compensation structure accordingly. In addition to salaries and pay structures, they may consider offering housing and other incentives to further entice quality candidates.
- Hiring practices and human resources. Schools should adjust their hiring timelines to ensure hiring decisions can be made early to recruit the best candidates. International schools tend to do this already, but it also may be important to consider a multi-layered hiring process that starts early and ends only after quality teacher candidates are secured.
- Support. Once onboarding begins, schools should support new teachers through an induction program which provides teachers with opportunities for continuous feedback and support. Hiring the teacher candidate is merely the beginning; equipping them to be as successful as possible in the new school setting is paramount.
- Working conditions. Teachers care about the working conditions in their new schools, including being trusted and valued to the extent that they are part of the school’s decision-making processes. Thus, it is especially important to be mindful that teacher retention is impacted by school leadership decisions, working conditions, and opportunities for professional growth. Once hired, these factors will continuously influence whether a teacher remains in their current position.
Bearing in mind these considerations helps to ensure schools are equipped to adjust their recruitment and retention practices to reflect what is most important to teacher candidates. As such, school leaders should continuously assess their current hiring practices to ensure they are producing desired results in the current context.
As schools examine their recruitment practices, they also may need to update their practices to incorporate virtual strategies even more than in past practices. Hanover Research (2020) provides an array of strategies to support virtual recruitment efforts. For example, international schools may consider using video conferencing platforms to interview candidates, as well as provide informational sessions for potential applicants. Social media also may be used to market employment opportunities in the school and provide information about the benefits of working there. They recommend that Human Resources departments continuously connect with applicants at varying stages of the application process when using virtual hiring practices. Additionally, it is important to strategically provide outreach to diverse applicants to ensure the applicant pool mirrors the desired demographics of the school. Websites should be current and feature the strengths of the school (The New Teacher Project, 2014). Additionally, it should be easily navigable and provide information about the desirability of your school.
Perhaps now more than ever it is essential that forward planning occur as you take stock of anticipated vacancies and begin targeting your recruitment efforts. By carefully considering what factors matter to teacher candidates and designing a recruitment plan that meets the needs of desired applicants, schools will be poised to more successfully hire and fill their classrooms with quality teachers in the year ahead!
Hanover Research (2020). Research priority brief: Virtual recruitment and hiring strategies. https://wasa-oly.org/WASA/images/WASA/6.0%20Resources/6.1.7%20Miscellaneous/Download_Files/COVID19/Virtual%20Recruitment%20and%20Hiring%20Strategies.pdf
Podolsky, A., Kini, T., Bishop, J., Darling-Hammond, L. (2016, September). Solving the teacher shortage: How to attract and retain excellent educators. Learning Policy Institute. https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/solving-teacher-shortage
Steiner, S. D. & Woo, A. (2021). Job-related stress threatens the teacher supply: Key findings from the 2021 state of the U.S. teacher survey. RAND Corporation. https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA1108-1.html
Stronge, J. H. (2010). Qualities of effective teachers (3rd ed.). ASCD.
The New Teacher Project (2014). Teacher recruitment roadmap. https://tntp.org/assets/tools/Recruitment_Roadmap_TNTP_12JUN2014.docx
Rachel Previs Ball, Ed.D., currently services as the director of the Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School for Marine and Environmental Science while also working on special projects for Stronge & Associates. She previously served as principal in a public school district in Virginia.
Stronge and Associates Educational Consulting, LLC (S&A), specializes in researching, developing, and supporting the design and application of educator evaluation systems both in the United States and internationally. We work extensively on the related issues of teacher and leader effectiveness with our research-based hiring protocols, professional development workshops, and technical assistance to districts, states, and other U.S. and international educational organizations.