My company engages in blatant employment discrimination and I’m proud of it! For the last two years, one of the few mandatory requirements in our hiring processes for ALL positions is a surprising one: TEACHERS ONLY. You must be a current or a former teacher. You must have formal teaching experience in a classroom. And you absolutely must have a track record of success.
In a world where teacher-bashing has become socially acceptable, my explicit bias towards teachers may seem odd. But for reasons that are simple to explain, my preference for hiring classroom educators is overwhelming. I cannot stand hearing someone employed in one of the most challenging, time-consuming, multifaceted career fields out there say “I’m just a teacher.” Just a teacher? There are countless reasons why “just a teacher” is the ultimate qualification for anything. Here are three that come to mind:
1. Great educators are master communicators
The ability to flex communication styles between young children, colleagues, parents, and higher-ups is a crucial skill set for effective educators. These skills end up being so important for the countless number of conflicts teachers resolve over the course of a school year. You want a complex plan is executed to a tee? Ask a third-grade teacher to make the plan and go over the step-by-step procedure. A great educator’s ability to anticipate and proactively address potential misunderstandings is priceless.
2. Great educators have endless imaginations
I need to make 120 copies today. Oh, the copy machine is broken. I can’t wait to have my students do some peer feedback on shared documents today. Crap, the internet is out. There’s no funding for this program, these kids are “too low” to do this rigorous work. We’re never going to able to ___. For great teachers, barriers are indistinguishable from opportunities. Their ability to dream big, create boldly, and dare to improve our world dramatically is the core of the innovative spirit. It is unacceptable that teachers are so often forced to do increasingly more with increasingly less resources. But the creativity and endless sense of possibility that comes from this are indispensable qualities for any career field.
3. Great educators know how to adapt to change
One year as a secondary math teacher, I kicked off the year teaching 7th-grade pre-algebra and 8th-grade algebra. Next thing you know, I was teaching Pre-Calculus during a prep period because one of my colleagues was having a rough time with that section. Then I ended up teaching an entire extra class after school for seniors who needed extra support to pass their math exit exams. But this change was nothing compared to the day-to-day changes teachers have to make in the thick of instruction. Analyzing data to figure where to start. Knowing who their students are to find compelling hooks to spark their learning. By checking for understanding in real-time, great educators show that they are super-skilled collecting and assessing data on the fly and pivoting as needed. And they do this in environments where the only constant is change. As the policies change, and the systems, leadership, students, and exams, great teachers roll with it. Nothing quite like hiring someone who can deal with the reality of planning a perfect experience to have it ruined by an unexpected fire drill. Every. Single. Time.
Show me a great teacher, and I will know, immediately, that this is someone who completely rejects the “not my job” mentality. Show me a group of great teachers, and I will determine, instantly, that they won’t just do the hard work, but also the heart work. Show me a great teacher, and I will always see someone who is inherently qualified to do just about anything.