Should a Districtwide PLC Initiative Impact the Recruitment and Selection of Future Teachers?
Our bias on the recruitment & selection of new teachers follows:
The district should recruit & screen applicants on the basis of whether or not this candidate "appears" to have the qualities/knowledge to be a part of and help our district advance the mission & vision of our district. However, the selection process should happen at the individual school site where the candidate is a potential member of "our" school’s culture. Adlai Stevenson High School (Rick’s former school/district in Lincolnshire, IL) offers an excellent example of PLC selection & retention process:
The administrative team (principal, assistant and department chairs) interview candidates and narrow the pool to three finalists. They then give each finalist a copy of the team’s list of norms, essential outcomes, pacing guides, common formative assessment instruments, etc. to study prior to being interviewed by "the team" they would potentially become a member of.
The team engages each candidate in dialogue about the products: could you live up to the norms our team has agreed to; are there any norms you question;any you’d like to add; could you teach to the list of essential outcomes and follow the packing guide; are there any outcomes on the list that you’re not comfortable with/question; are there outcomes you’d like to see on the list that aren’t; could you prepare student in this course for the common assessments we’ve created; what ideas do you have for strengthening our assessment instruments; etc.
THEN, before a decision is made, the candidate must spend a day at the school teaching a lesson(s) in the course(s) for which they are interviewing. The department chair and members of the teaching team observe the lessons: what strategies/methods and material did the candidate choose to use for the lesson; how is the candidate engaging the students/relating to the students (If the candidate is not able to take a day off from teaching in a current school, a delegation from Stevenson’s team will go to their school and observe them teach).
Finally, the team makes a recommendation to the administration -- which of the three finalists are they most excited about. In most departments the teams report their perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate. The administration then typically offers the job based on the team’s feedback.
Once the new teacher is hired, they are assigned a mentor from the team to meet with during the summer and throughout the first year. And of course, the new hire has the support of the entire team each week when they come together to meet about student learning in their course.
For more information about the mentor program, read the scenario in chapter 2, beginning on page 29, of Professional Learning Communities at Work: Best Practices for Enhancing Student Achievement (DuFour & Eaker, Solution Tree, 1998).