Rough Interview

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by SCTeachInTX, Apr 20, 2011.

  1. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Scenerio: Experienced teacher comes for an interview. She really knows her stuff. She is nice enough, and has 26 years of experience in several grades including the grade she is interviewing for. Other candidates include a brand new teacher bursting with energy and raring to go. There is a five year veteran teacher with experience with young children, but has never been in a testing grade. The grade that she is interested in is a state tested grade. And last, a teacher with two years of experience lacks personality, (does not seem outgoing) but has amazing references from sources that say she is incredible with children. She, too, has had experience in a testing grade. The team that is interviewing her is a principal, 3 teachers, and the guidance counselor. The principal is 40, the guidance counselor is in her 30s, and the teachers are in their 20s and would be working with her on a daily basis as team mates. All candidates answered questions well. All candidates were friendly, and seemed like they were willing to learn a new curriculum. It would be a completely new math / reading curriculum for all teachers. So.... who do you think the team hired and why?:whistle: I will tell you... And yes, this happened.
     
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  3. LUCHopefulTeach

    LUCHopefulTeach Habitué

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    My guess would be the brand new teacher or the teacher with 5 years experience. Someone who is similar in age, outgoing, flexible, friendly.
     
  4. husker_blitz

    husker_blitz Companion

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    I would say the one with the best testing experience, so that would be the two-year vet (cheap) with no personality but with great testing results since schools are so paranoid about reporting grades not testing well.
     
  5. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Perhaps the "lack of personality" was nerves....
     
  6. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Well, I would hope it was the new teacher, because that might give me some hope (I'm doubtful I'll even get interviews with my lack of experience) I'm actually extremely curious... Given the information, I'd probably have to guess the teacher with 2 years of experience - cheaper, but experience with testing, like husker said....but I really don't know!
     
  7. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Come on..... Give me some more answers. Because I can assure you that the "real" answer is very interesting and may help some job seekers - both new to teaching and those veteran teachers that are out there looking.
     
  8. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Here is a little more info... The school is new. The majority of the staff is young. And the district is very progressive believing in lots of professional development mainly on teacher time - not district time. The school district is also a big stickler for using ONLY programs that they have in place in all subject areas.
     
  9. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    They hired them all!
     
  10. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Love this answer so far!
     
  11. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    If this is the most important hint, I would say the brand-new teacher. Having less experience to draw from, he/she will be less likely to try and use other methods/activities that work in place of the purchased curriculum. Also, being brand-new, they will be more likely to toe the line.

    I can't stand having programs in place that i have to use, especially if they stink. I like to be creative in lesson planning. I probably would not have gotten that job.
     
  12. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I'm guessing the new teacher bursting with energy. The school is new, the curriculum will be rigid and the team members are in their 20's. Hiring the new teacher allows them to still be the "veteran" members and they can work together to mentor/guide the new teacher to their way of thinking. The energy and excitement she brings means she should be easy to get along plus fun to work with, but still respectful enough to understand she IS the newbie and should defer to the group when necessary. She also doesn't bring any established habits or different curriculum preferences that will need to be overcome. She is new, fresh, excited and should be easily molded to fit the profile the school wants. She will also be the cheapest to hire. So there really is no downside to hiring her. The team members can teach her how to prepare the kids for the state testing.

    2-year teacher - She is likely the 2nd choice. Has some experience in a testing grade, but not too much experience that she will be set in her ways. The amazing references are big plus, but the lack of personality is a big minus. The team members will be looking for someone that will be a new BFF as well as a team member and 2-yr's lack of personality may seem like she thinks she's better than them because of her documented classroom success. She might turn out to be OK (personality wise) and get along with the team very well, or she might think she knows more than the team members and they should listen to her ideas and suggestions instead of her listening to theirs. There is a good chance she will be "that teacher" that "nobody can work with" because she thinks she knows more than she really does. She probably won't cost any more than the newbie, since she doesn't have enough experience to qualify for a pay upgrade. They can hire her (with some potential personality problems) or they can hire the newbie that they can mold in their image. Advantage: newbie.

    5-yr teacher/mom - Teacher/mom is a good candidate, but has some disadvantages. First of all, the 3 young kids will be the focus of her conversation and attention most of the time. If the other team members also have kids, this will give them some common ground, but if they don't, then the team members will get tired of always hearing about what Little Johnny or Suzie did last night. It also means teacher/mom will be wanting to go home after school instead of maybe hanging out to build "team unity". Five years of experience means she may be resistant to the new (and rigid) curriculum expectations and want to insert her own methods or ideas. The fact none her experience has been in a testing grade is another disadvantage.
    From the P's standpoint, however, this is an opportunity to bring a "veteran" (but not an expensive one) to the school to show parents (s)he is most interested in hiring teachers that know what they are doing and have the experience to meet the needs of the students. Despite the different status (mom vs single team members), she might make a good fit, depending on her personality. Instead of "hanging out" with the team members, she might slide into the role of "team mom", offering guidance and advice to the team members about personal issues and affairs that they would end up appreciating. Not the same as a new BFF, but someone the team members could appreciate having around when they're b/f is being a jerk, a r/l bff is causing drama, or problems come up with the family. Even though she would be a veteran, she shouldn't be too set in her ways. She's probably been around long enough to understand she has to conform to the school requirements, whether she likes them or not, and likely has the wisdom to just make the best of the situation. So there is a lot of potential for her to be a good fit with everyone. There is also the chance of her transferring her own children (if they are old enough) to the school. That will add to their enrollment, which could help some of their funding.

    26 yr vet - I'm afraid this is a case of having TOO much experience. It's great that she is experienced in the testing grade, but that is really about the only positive she brings to the school.
    Twenty six years means several things; her pay scale is probably maxed out, she is nearing retirement (so there is a question of how much longer she would work), and she will probably be very set in her teaching style and lesson presentation. Of course, she is going to say she has no problem with the rigid curriculum, but we all know she will probably just go back to what she is used to once she actually gets in the classroom. If the P or team members challenge her style, she will say "It's worked for 26 years and it still works now." There is also a huge question of how well she will "fit" with the much younger team members. She has been teaching since they were in diapers, so she will almost definitely have the "matriarch personality" on the team and constantly offer suggestions on how the younger team members could do their job better. So we have a new school with a new curriculum endorsed by young team members and enforced by administration vs a multi-year vet nearing retirement and probably set in her ways. Overall, it doesn't look like she would be a good fit for the school.
     
  13. SwOcean Gal

    SwOcean Gal Devotee

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    Great idea for a post! I love this!
    Wow- hmm. I love Cerek's thinking. I also love MrsC's choice! That would amazing!
    Hmm, I think it would have to be the new teacher or the teacher with no personality and amazing references- although I do hate to think I may have been described as that candidate was while interviewing lol. IDK- it is so nerve wracking going in for an interview- nonetheless one with a whole panel of people! whew!

    So hmm, I say the new teacher.

    I cannot wait to find out! When you do reveal, will you tell us the convo between the interview team and their thoughts, reasoning, and all that? I would love to know the scoop as to why!!!!!
     
  14. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I agree with smurfette and Cerek's reasoning that it will be the new teacher with the teacher with no personality coming in second.
     
  15. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Having done a lot of interviewing myself, I don't think there is much helpful information given in the original post :). I don't say that to be antagonistic, just to say that there isn't anything that sticks out as automatically helpful or not helpful:

    1) Age is irrelevant, except as it is correlated with experience. Older staff I've found tend to be less open to completely new ideas because they have their own, but the trade off is that their own ideas can be pretty good :).

    2) Experience can be great or awful, depending on what it is. Just like with kids, practicing the wrong thing for 20 years can be worse than no practice at all.

    3) Different kids respond differently to different personalities.

    4) Testing grade wouldn't matter to me, because a good teacher is a good teacher. I know that sometimes "better" teachers are put in testing grades, but the funny thing is that whether a child passes a test has as much or more to do with earlier-grade teachers than it does with the testing grade-level teacher, because foundation is just as important to later skill development.

    So, I think all could be amazing and the best teachers ever, or awful and the worst teachers ever - a lot of other variables I think are relevant more relevant. I guess I hope that all of the teachers are awesome and that MrsC is right - that's my vote :).
     
  16. MissBecky

    MissBecky Rookie

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    The veteran

    I'm guessing the one with 26 years of experience. I've been told that a lot of times schools are looking for a balance when considering candidates. Given that the other teachers are younger, probably with less experience than the veteran teacher, it would make sense to put the vet in there. They already have the newer teachers in the school, so why have more of the same? If I were on the hiring committee, from the descriptions of all the teachers, I'd go for the one with 26 years experience...and this coming from a brand new teacher, so I'm not biased. :)
     
  17. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    I really love this thread- great idea SCTeach! It's interesting to see what everyone thinks, and I'm extremely curious to find out the answer...

    I guess this depends on region - in CA, you get a pay upgrade every year for the first 10 years or so (and then every few years after that.) So a 3rd year teacher could actually cost a bit more than a newbie (or a lot, depending on the district), especially if they have a Master's.
     
  18. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    I have to admit, we don't see the cost issue here in this region as much. I've been on many interview teams at my school, and the issue of salary never came up. Master's degrees are a bonus here, not seen as an extra cost. This makes me nervous in case I ever want to move somewhere!
     
  19. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    That's how it should be!!! Here we've had 4 years of layoffs, so cost is a huge issue. And yet, I'm in a combined credential/Master's program, so I'll be more expensive out of the gate...Oh, well.
     
  20. cartwheels

    cartwheels Rookie

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    I'm curious to know the answer. My guess is the teacher with two years experience.
     
  21. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    The brand new teacher. They want someone who fits their personality, and if they were asked to be on an interview team in charge of hiring their own co-worker, that would mean that the principal wants the team to work well.

    So they are looking for someone who fits them personality-wise.

    The veteran is intimidating. Knows a lot. Might show them up. Won't fit team dynamics.

    The two-year's worth of experience with no personality doesn't fit their "take charge" attitude.

    The mom might work, but it sure would be nice to have someone that you can "mother" yourself.

    So you hire the new raring to go person. She'll be molded by your team, or so they think. :) She'll be frustrated that she can't do all those things she's been dreaming of.
     
  22. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    This is the choice I would have made.
     
  23. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    I'm going with the veteran teacher.

    I think the selling point will be her ability to mentor the younger staff, long experience in education means she has seen trends come and go and would know how to take a canned program and make it her own, and 26 years of real classroom day to day experience.

    high jacking for a moment - not that I have even close to 26 yrs in teaching, more like 17 plus the 2 yrs I taught before I had kids, I have to say I am pretty surprised at the way many posters percieved the veteran teacher. Do you all really think that way about veterans, or are you just playing the guessing game with this post?
     
  24. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Do I personally feel this way about veteran teachers? No, not at all. My CT was a veteran teacher with 20+ yrs experience and is, by all accounts, one of the best math teachers in the district.

    I was trying to guess the perspectives of the hiring committee. I initially found it strange that the OP included the age of each member from the committee, then a comment a couple of posts later colored my perception of how *I* think the team members might react to each candidate.

    If I were being completely objective, I would agree with EdEd and, I admit, the veteran was my first consideration because of her experience and the fact she has seen trends come and go.

    The thoughts in my previous post are an educated guess, but it is still just a guess. I placed more emphasis on the perspectives (and possible input) from the team members rather than the principal and guidance counselor and I admit I may just be stereotyping the team members too.

    While I do think the 26 veteran will have something of a matriarch personality, it might be just what the P and team members are looking for - someone with tons of experience, knowledge and the wisdom to know which approaches DO work and which ones do NOT work. She will also probably have the tact and diplomacy to respectfully voice suggestions to the P and team members about different ways to apply the curriculum based on her experience.

    From the P's viewpoint, I think the experience she could bring would be a great benefit, but I still worry about the stability. She may or may not mesh with the younger team members. She is also very close to retirement, so I would have to worry how long she would actually be at the school. Chances are, I would have to be looking for a replacement within 2-4 years (maximum) and maybe even next year if the district offers retirement buyouts to help offset budget cuts.
     
  25. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I'm on a hiring committee...not having been on these interviews, I won't hazard a guess as to who was hired...there's a certain 'it factor ' that makes us think...'that's the one'...I'm not able to surmise who that may be from the OPs descriptions...could be anyone.:whistle:
     
  26. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Sorry, no.:cool:
     
  27. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Here is more...

    Interview question #1:
    We use a reading workshop approach in this district. What do you know about reading workshop?
    Vet Teacher- I have worked in an Inquiry School where all we used was a Workshop Model in all areas of learning. I have been trained by some of the experts that your district uses as resources.
    New Teacher- I know a lot about the Workshop Model. That is all we did in college and my cooperating teacher was a model classroom for Reading/Writing Workshop in a neighboring district.
    5 Year Veteran- We used a Workshop Approach in first grade and I loved it. I think it is the only way to teach.
    2 Year Teacher- We used Open Court in my school. However, I have had experience in student teaching with the Workshop Approach and I was instructed on this in college. I am willing to get training and read to learn everything I can to be successful in your school.

    Interview Question #2: You have a difficult child in your classroom with behavioral and learning difficulties. What is your plan of action?
    Vet Teacher- I would begin by documenting what I notice in the classroom. I would try some motivators to see if I could help the child with behaviors. Many times children are behavior problems because they do not understand. I would also alert the parent to what I was noticing in the classroom and enlist their help in coming up with either some kind of contract or checklist for the child to work on behaviors. If this fails, I will enlist the help of my team or a school based team to ask for suggestions to help this child to become a productive part of our school community.
    New Teacher- I would get in touch with the school guidance counselor and ask for her help. Maybe the child needs some counseling or could be part of a small group that works on behaviors that are appropriate for school.
    5 Year Teacher- I would talk to the child's previous teacher if possible and see if there were some strategies he/she used that might help in my classroom. If I am still having problems, I would ask my team mates for suggestions, and create a parent communication log so that we can track daily behaviors.
    2 Year Teacher- I would call a student assistance team meeting with teachers, guidance counselor, and an administrator to help brainstorm ideas for making this child successful. I will ask for help from the parent and come up with a behavior chart with stickers.

    So.... who would you hire and why?
     
  28. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Yes, I did include the ages and perhaps I should have put the age of the veteran teacher. Her age is 45.

    Personality wise:
    Vet teacher: funny, friendly, knowledgeable
    New Teacher: enthusiastic, idealistic, nervous
    2 Year Teacher: quiet, reserved, smiles
    5 Year Teacher: quirky (earth girl), humorous, team oriented
     
  29. indigo-angel

    indigo-angel Companion

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    I think that the 26 year vet seems to be on the ball. I would hire her. I'd even say that I wouldn't mind her being hired over me if we were competing for the same job.
     
  30. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Another hint... Testing grade is VERY important in any school or district. No matter what anyone says, scores matter. Who do you think the best fit is?
     
  31. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Districts invest hundreds of thousands of dollars on programs. Would you want to hire teachers that choose to let that kind of expense go to waste? The hope is that proper training will help teachers to see the value in what the district vision may be. I am only saying this because it would be a big factor in this district. Is there creativity? If you are creative, there is always room for creativity and staying true to yourself even if you are using a reading/writing workshop approach based on Lucy Calkins Units of Study. Or a math program that is very hands on like Every Day Math.:rolleyes:
     
  32. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    From what I've read. . .the vet teacher.
     
  33. dcnuck

    dcnuck Companion

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    My guess is the 5 year teacher. So when are you going to tell us?
     
  34. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    I'm not saying I would hire the new teacher over the veteran, just that the school district sounds like it wants teachers to follow a script, which might be hard for those with experience. I think a mix of experiences is good for a team.

    Not sure if it's my opinion that got the eye roll or the district. I realize that districts spend a lot of money on pre-packaged curriculums. I would rather the district hire competent teachers than treat us like we are all incapable of presenting concepts to children. It would save a lot of money, too. Personally, I like to take the best of the different curriculums and teaching methods and tailor them to my very needy students.
     
  35. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    The district... And, I see your point. I also see the district side. When your district has a vision of a Workshop Model being the vehicle for K-12 that drives instruction... materials, text sets of books, manipulatives, and professional development are key to getting everyone on the same page. My hope is that creative teachers still have opportunities to be true to their own beliefs and above all put children first.:love:<---Much better use of smiles.
     
  36. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Wow - you're right; they did all give very good answers to the questions. After looking the answers over for a bit, though, their responses definitely reflect their different levels of experience.

    These are the thoughts I would have as a member of the committee.
    (Answers rated from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent))

    Question #1
    26 year - Effectively indicates experience and knowledge of the system in short, concise statements. Portrays reassuring confidence and comfort with Workshop Approach. Could provide good leadership in implementation and application of workshop. Downside? Second statement has a slight air of cockiness/superiority. Will she be a good team member or insist on being team leader because of her experience?
    Overall score: 4.5

    Newbie - Expresses knowledge of system based on academic and ST experience, but doesn't give specifics about program or how she applied the approach herself. CT modeled system in neighboring district. Did she model it in current classroom too? Does Newbie really have actual experience with the model, or just academic knowledge?
    Overall score: 3

    5 year - Knowledgeable of system with actual experience applying model in classroom. Comfortable with system and excited about using it. Downside? Endorsement of system is very generalized. Didn't list specific aspects or components of system she liked best or found most effective. Would've liked more details.
    Overall score: 3

    2 year - Very open and honest about limited experience with system, but expresses willingness and desire to learn. Good attitude. Could be a very good team member.
    Overall score: 4

    Question #2
    26 year - Excellent answer! Demonstrates extensive experience and very thorough approach. Would be a great model for other team members to follow.
    Overall score: 5

    Newbie - Good approach based on level of experience. Understands there may be outside issues. Deferring to counselor is reasonable approach till she gains more practical experience and confidence in her own abilities and strategies.
    Overall score: 3

    5 year - Good strategy. Enlists former teacher for suggestions and current team members if problem persists. Understands importance of involving parents and keeping good documentation.
    Overall score: 4

    2 year - Weak strategy. Should seek and implement individual strategies before requesting committee conference. Asks for generic help from parent, but doesn't offer specific ideas or strategies they could use. Should take more of a leadership role in addressing and correcting behavior.
    Overall score: 2.5

    Summary
    26 year - Very strong candidate. Answers exhibit depth of knowledge, experience and wisdom. Minor concern about how she would "fit" with team members, but could be a great asset for our school.

    Newbie - Good enthusiasm. Answers were very good based on level of experience. Seems to have good foundation of skills, but still has a lot of growing to do. Team members could possibly mentor and mold her in their image, but would they have the time? Might be better to choose someone that can hit the ground running with minimum supervision or help from team members.

    5 year - Also a very strong candidate. Familiar and excited with Reader Workshop. Brings practical experience that would be valuable to the school and team members. Could provide veteran stability to the team while still being a "good fit" with the members. Solid approach to classroom management.

    2 year - Like her honesty in the first answer, but second answer only highlights possible need for more experience. Not sure she is what we are looking for at this time.


    Keep in mind these are just my personal opinions based on an admittedly limited amount of which qualities are really most appealing to the interview committee. I'm still a green newbie myself.

    If I were making the decision, it would be very close between 26 yr and 5 yr vet. The 26 yr brings an undeniable amount of experience and knowledge that could be a wonderful asset to the team. Even if she does leave in 2 years (or 4), she could provide good stability to the school and team during those years.

    The 5 yr vet also brings experience and veteran leadership skills that could be good for the team. She is familiar with the workshop approach and seems to fully embrace it. She could also be an excellent team member.

    After going over the questions some more, I think Newbie and 2 year drop to the bottom of the pile - though it is no fault of their own. They both gave great answers based on their level of experience, the other two just gave better answers (IMO, of course).

    If I base my decision strictly on the answers given, I would have to put 26 year as my #1 choice with 5 year being second. However, if I take the intangibles of team dynamics and personality fit into account, I have to think 5 year moves up a notch.

    I still think it is a toss-up between the two, but if I have to make a guess, I think I would go with 5-year now. She doesn't have the depth of experience as 26 year, but she still has more than the other two. She can provide veteran stability, while still having several more years of service she can give to our school and our team. She can be a good, long-term investment for the school that strengthens the existing team and possibly provides a driving force, even if she isn't in the leadership position.

    While I really like the profound experience and knowledge 26-year brings, I still can't help worrying that we would only benefit from that for a short time, then have to start the process all over again.

    Long term, I think 5-year probably represents the best choice.
     
  37. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Apr 21, 2011

    Ok... I can give the answer OR give 2 more interview questions/answers. What will it be? Whatever you decide, I will answer tomorrow because right now... I am downright sleepy. Ha ha!
     
  38. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Apr 21, 2011

    Well, I spent so long on my post, I didn't see your two responses about the personality types and the importance of a Testing Grade. Given those factors, I think the edge swings back to 26-year vet.
     
  39. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Apr 21, 2011

    If the 26 year vet is only 45, I doubt she'll be out in 2-4 years... I know of many teachers who are still going strong into their 60s...I guess it depends on the person and the state, though...a lot of people in my state can't afford to retire until their 60s.
     
  40. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Apr 22, 2011

    This is where I'm at as well, even with the interview questions. I'd be looking at more subtle signs indicating who was open to learning, who was more intelligent, who had more "with-it-ness," etc. Content of questions is very irrelevant to me. If a teacher/staff member needs content, I can give them tons of content :). What I would need as an administrator is not the content of what comes out, but the process used to generate that content. I'd also be looking for personality matches with the team, which isn't really a content-oriented thing.

    Part of my consideration would be - as others have mentioned - the degree to which I'd want to train the teacher in specific methods. If I had a lot to do as an admin, and just needed someone to come in and do their thing, I'd pick experience. However, if I wanted someone to invest a lot of time in learning new methods specific to the school, I'd go for openness, which I would NOT necessarily equate with being younger. I've met plenty of close-minded 19-year-olds, and plenty of open-minded 45-year-olds. That being said, a blank canvas is usually easier to paint on than a full one, but maybe I just might already like the picture on the canvas :).

    So, can I ask the OP who YOU would have picked, given that you presumably were there?
     
  41. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Apr 22, 2011

    It's more a matter of having your years in than age. Most teachers can begin considering their retirement (from teaching) after 20 years in the system. I think many prefer to wait until they have at least 25 years and some even longer. But by the time you have 30 years in the system, I think retirement from full-time teaching (at least) begins to look very appealing. There is also the incentives offered from many districts for those with 25+ years to consider early retirement to help offset growing budget cuts.

    Yes, many teachers ARE still going strong in their 60's, but many more start thinking about the daily grind and how nice it would be if they could just "cut back" some and not have to worry about the day-to-day stuff all the time (lunch duty, keeping up with money from fundraisers, committee meetings, etc).

    Age does play a factor in the equation though. Those with 25+ years in by their mid-40's can take their full retirement from the school system, but are still young enough to pursue other careers - such as starting their own small business - as well.

    If they're really industrious, they have time to find another job that offers good retirement benefits (like a state or gov't job) and get several years in there as well, making them eligible for two full retirements in their late 60's/early 70's.

    Sorry for the hijack. Back to our original topic.
     

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