From Preparation to Placement, Personal Fit Matters for Teachers

Teacher at the front of a classroom with students raising hands.

“Effective teachers are the key to student success, yet our school systems treat all teachers as interchangeable parts; not professionals,” declares the Widget Effect by The New Teacher Project (TNTP.)


Teacher trends

This concept of the ”Widget Effect” by The New Teacher Project, starts before educators enter the school door and is reflected as early as the recruitment process in many districts and schools. For far too long we have simply slotted teachers meeting certification requirements in jobs without much thought or data.

With this carelessness, it should not come as much surprise to learn of high turnover rates. Yet, the data clearly shows that the top contributing factors to low retention is lack of alignment with school leadership and work place conditions.  

Now, imagine for a moment that we treated the teaching profession with the same regard as doctors. What would a matching process look like for teachers? What if we encouraged teachers, as we train them to do for their students, to consider their own learning styles, find personal fit and align their own interests with the culture of a building?


Market dynamics   

With news of teacher shortages making headlines across the country, the market dynamics are now shifting favor to teachers and their ability to have more choice in the process. With unfilled jobs spanning districts and communities, teachers are better positioned to consider their own style and beliefs as they look for jobs.

As you prepare to go in for an interview, this is also your time to ask the questions to determine if this school and team are right for you. Here are a few examples that may help as you consider:

  • What is your leadership style?
  • How will my success be evaluated?
  • What does professional development look like?
  • Is there new teacher training and mentoring provided?
  • Can I speak with a few of your current teachers?

We are moving to a place where teacher assignment is a two-way street, and as much about you picking a school and culture, as it is them choosing you.


Respect and transparency

There are many things we need to do as a country to elevate the teaching profession and increase teacher retention.

We need to be transparent about expectations and culture if we expect educators to make a career out of teaching. They deserve to have their expectations match reality. And most importantly, we need to treat educators as individuals and professionals with appreciation, intentional development and respect. 

This piece was originally available on Media Planet

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Alicia Herald

Alicia Herald

Alicia Herald is a senior education innovation fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Herald started her career as a fourth-grade teacher as a Teach For America (TFA) corps member in south-central Los Angeles. She later joined the TFA staff as a national recruiter, selector, and most recently, the founding executive director of the Kansas City regional office.