Blog 14—Interviews.

What are we looking for? What are you trying to say? If you’re reading this you have most likely had lots of experience on both sides of the panel. Like most of you, I’ve sat through a number of panels this term. What’s struck me is I seem to be looking for the same thing whether it’s a graduate or principal class position. Of course the depth and detail you expect changes, but the key points remain the same.
When giving feedback the other day, I found myself drawing the model below to explain the gaps in the interview. When I reflected on the conversation, I realised that I was looking for this in all interviews. There is nothing ground-breaking about the data cycle here, it’s the inability of interviewees to talk to it that’s frustrating me.
Let’s look at a couple of examples.
No 1. Principal Class Interview – You are given some school level data and asked how you would drive improvement in the school. You need a model to disseminate your thinking. Whether it’s the PLC Inquiry Cycle, PDSA or the model above you need to start and end with the data. If you don’t have the model to drive your presentation you risk over talking and the message gets lost. Start with your data analysis and how that links to the curriculum. Talk about how you lead teachers in the conversation and use the data and curriculum to challenge their thinking and get them on the same page. From there you can set common goals and develop your instructional model for improvement. You must and I repeat must talk about how you collected evidence to see the progress the teachers and students made and the cycle starts again. You might not always make the progress you hoped you would and that’s ok.
No 2. Classroom Teacher Interview – You ask a question about running an effective reading or maths program. I have found this model really helpful in ticking off in my mind that the applicant has the full picture. Often teachers miss the link between data and curriculum. I want to see they understand the data and look to the curriculum for the next steps in learning. Often they will go straight to strategies like reading conferences, guided reading or the Daily 5 but miss this important step. Teachers seem to be getting better at talking about data to start the unit, but often miss important points about differentiation, growth and reflection.
As an interesting side note, a couple of years ago we added demonstration lessons into our graduate interviews. It was a process I’d seen used in Malaysia and wanted to try it here. We found that some graduates talked the talk but couldn’t walk the walk. So, we had the shortlisted applicants come in and teach a 20 minute maths game to different classes. If we were satisfied with their teaching, we would follow up with some further interview questions. This certainly helps us identify who could relate well with children.
I’ve also heard of a school using a speed dating technique to sort through the hundred or so graduate applications they received. They invited applicants in for 5 minute ‘chats’ and then decided if the applicant was suitable for further interviews.
It can be quite a laborious task at times and I’m always looking for alternate means to decide the best applicant for the position. I hope you are all having a successful recruiting season and get the best teachers in front of our students for the 2020 school year.