Without a doubt, the most important part of my job is searching for diamonds. Of course I am not referring to mining rocks for engagement rings, I am speaking of finding priceless teachers to put in front of our students.
Although FIS has a very low teacher turnover rate for an international school, when a vacancy is to be filled, we may have over 100 applications for a single position because we are searching the world over for the right individual. FIS Principals and I attend hiring fairs in England, the United States, Australia and elsewhere. In addition, openings posted on our website bring in applications from all over the world, including those here in Germany.
As with diamonds, it is those that are truly rare that are the most sought after. FIS sets a high standard for those we invite to join our ranks. Most important is a love and understanding of students. Over many years of hiring I have encountered teachers who know their subject matter like the back of their hand, but would really be best working independently in research than with young minds. Research has proven that students learn best when they make a meaningful connection with their teacher.
Of course a mastery of modern teaching practices is also a must. There are aspects of education that have withstood the test of time and yet it is a field that is also constantly evolving. For instance, knowing how to appropriately integrate technology in the classroom is a necessary skill. We therefore look for teachers that have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to their own professional development. We want teachers at FIS who are also eager learners to ensure their teaching skills will continue to evolve over time.
Then there are intangible qualities that are more difficult to put on a resume, such as an ability to collaborate well with colleagues, an international mindedness that is sensitive to a variety of cultural issues, and an emotional resiliency that is necessary for a successful expatriate lifestyle. We have at least two members of our leadership team speak with each candidate so that they can compare notes and see if their individual impressions of a candidate match.
I also put on my “parent hat” when conducting interviews and, when doing so, try to think how our diverse parent community would respond to a candidate. Would this applicant’s intellectual, social and emotional skill sets meet the high standards of our school? When classes begin next August, will students and parents alike feel that they have won the teaching lottery?
Based on our new hires for the 2017-18 academic year, I am pleased to report that we have indeed found more diamonds to bring a sparkle into the lives of our students.