Saturday, 13 March 2010

"That" Teacher!

     Because this is my first year as the principal at Newell-Fonda High School, I am in the process of hiring my first teacher.  As I pulled out my interview questions that I had used in my previous school, I made the startling realization that these questions just wouldn't work at Newell-Fonda.  Being a 1:1 school has made me realize that the standard interview questions just aren't applicable anymore for our school.  I realized I wasn't concerned about how much the candidate knew about American Literature or proper grammar.  Don't get me wrong, I still believe content knowledge is very important in hiring a new teacher.  However, as I developed questions for the interview I wanted to know how my new teacher was going to think outside the box.  How he or she was going to challenge our students beyond just knowing who wrote The Scarlet Letter or where to put a comma.  I wanted to know what online resources he/she had used in his/her classroom.  I wanted to know how he/she used Professional Learning Networks to find innovative ways to teach American Literature or essay writing.  I wanted to see that he/she was excited about the possibilities that the 1:1 environment creates for a teacher and a student.  Ultimately, I wanted him/her to be able to articulate how "special" this 1:1 learning environment is.  I needed to know that he/she understood that in order to truly prepare our students for THEIR future, our teaching strategies have to meet our students' learning styles - and that is where technology fits in.
     In the end, I'm not sure I'm looking for a "new" kind of teacher, but I am looking for a different skill set.  Just as we are expecting from our students, I am looking for a teacher who is willing to collaborate and create.  One who can communicate and network.  One who is willing to take risks and go outside his/her comfort zone.  I want to hear about Twitter and Facebook, blogs and wikis, Google Docs and digital portfolios.  I want to know that he/she is willing to try new things, and I certainly don't expect him/her to have all the answers or know every American author (that can be Googled if someone really wants to know).  I also wonder if our universities have prepared these new teachers for my interview questions because I won't be asking them for their strengths and weaknesses or how much they know about Walt Whitman or Edgar Allan Poe.  Yes, I still want to know about their ideas or experiences with classroom management and assessment.  However, what I really want to know is how they plan to use technology to enhance learning, and how they will use their classroom to produce digitally articulate, creative, collaborative students who are prepared for THEIR future!
     Finally, after all this reflection, I realize that I am definitely excited and encouraged about the challenge and the opportunity to find "that" teacher!!