By Maria Sells, IPLI Mentor and Associate Director of Education with AdvancED
As I sat with my regional cohort group during the IPLI summer institute, I noticed that a great deal of discussion revolved around current openings. During the institute, two of my cohort group received word that teachers in their buildings resigned to move to different positions. So, the unexpected search began for a foreign language and math teacher for these two vacancies in the middle of July.
Does this sound familiar? In the world of education, we all face staffing situations like these throughout the year. It seems like June, July and August bring about rapid changes in staffing, and it is hard not to get caught up in an emotional roller coaster when dealing with something that seems overwhelming.
If you take a look at the IDOE job page, you will see how quickly changes are occurring around the state. There are openings added at an alarming rate in the few weeks leading up to the start of school every year. This means we will experience many changes throughout the state over the next few weeks, and the domino effect that happens when schools hire new people for their positions may end up impacting your school right as you are preparing to begin a new school year. When this does happen to you, it is always helpful to remember that great leaders “Hire the Best, Expect the Best, and Wish the Best.” I don’t really remember where I first heard these words or who spoke them to me, but I have found that they had a profound impact on me as I worked my way through different administrative roles throughout my career.
Hire the Best
No matter how many individual positions you may have to fill or how short of a timeline you have to fill those positions, it is always best to take the time to hire the best. Do your homework on candidates and be patient in finding the absolute best fit for the position. Nothing is more important to the success of your school than making “good hires.” Your students deserve the best person to help them reach their full learning potential. Good hires are those who show promise and a willingness to do whatever it takes to develop their own skills in an effort to reach every student. They do not have to be a “superstar” already but have the promise of becoming one with some support and guidance. Taking the time to hire the best now will save you a great deal of stress and additional work in the long run.
Expect the Best
Part of hiring the best includes expecting the best. The time to set and communicate your expectations is during the interview process. Your expectations of any person coming into your building should not be left to chance or interpretation. Any new hire should be clear that you expect them to do their best every minute of every single day. As educators, doing our best means that in addition to proving we have a great work ethic, we must also demonstrate a belief in the success of every student, exhibit a positive attitude and collegial personality, and display leadership skills. We all know how exhausting doing our best every day is, so it is important that new hires understand your expectations and that you are willing to support them by giving your best to them as well.
Wish the Best
This is the one that may seem hard at first due to emotional ties we all develop over time. When we have superstars in our lives, we tend to create personal bonds with them because they are such positive influences to be around. However, we must recognize that every individual has personal and professional goals and a life outside of our school bubble. When people choose to grow in a different direction, it is a double-edged sword. Of course, we are happy for them to have a new opportunity in which to develop their own potential, but we are sad for our own school to lose such a valuable resource. It is also difficult to keep the feeling of anxiety over trying to replace the individual from impacting our response to the news. Even if the individual leaving is not a superstar in your building, a great leader chooses to believe that he/she will bloom into one with their new opportunities. No matter what the circumstances, it is always best to take a breath, stay calm, and wish them the best.
I found that my life as an administrator during the hectic months between June and August always went much more smoothly when I used the mantra: “Hire the Best, Expect the Best, and Wish the Best!”