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Given the challenges of hiring during a teacher shortage, Dr. Skanson takes us behind the scenes to look at his process of how to effectively hire teachers who are a great fit and then build a values-driven staff community. Dr. Skanson also delves into the strategies he employs to navigate biases in the hiring process and the vital role of mindset and disposition in hiring.
In addition to being part of the foundation of School Pro K12, Dr. Eric Skanson has over 17 years of experience in public school administration and 24 years of education at large. He is a seasoned leader focusing on positive change, outstanding culture, and collaboration. Through his doctorate, Dr. Skanson’s academic core focus was on the use of collaboration for organizational improvement.
The Big Dream
Providing opportunities and experiences for students that they wouldn't have access to otherwise. Dr. Skanson emphasizes the importance of nurturing a mindset that views education as a means to impact communities positively. His ultimate goal is to enhance student growth and make schools a nurturing and compassionate space for students.
Alignment to the 4 Stages: Mindset, Pedagogy, Assessment, and Content
Dr. Skanson believes in the importance of mindset in the hiring process. He argues that a positive disposition is essential in educators. Specifically, Dr. Skanson is looking for educators who are positive, kind, and supportive, emphasizing the human aspect of education. Pedagogically, he stresses the need for diversity and balance in teaching teams to create an enriching learning environment. Regarding content, he encourages educators to be conscious of the context, and craft their teaching approach based on their specific school and student community.
Mindset Shifts Required
We need to acknowledge and challenge the biases that often surface during the hiring process.
How do we hire effectively?
Here are the key ideas Dr. Skanson wants leaders to keep in mind…
Key 1: Emphasize character, competency, and craft in hiring, over mere credentials.
Step 2: Conduct a systematic and thoughtful interview process, focusing on asking the right questions (ones that ask about a candidate’s actual experience versus just a theoretical approach) and understanding the candidate's actual impact on students.
Step 3: Ensure diversity and balance in the team, considering the specific needs and context of the school community.
There can be tension between internal and external candidates during the hiring process. Dr. Skanson suggests having a good succession plan in place and controlling the process to make it fair for all candidates. “I think every interview, especially for school leadership positions, should have a balance of an internal and an external [candidate]. However, you have to control the process to make it fair for internals and externals…people will bring in extra information about the internal candidates…let the person talk about their experiences and leave about all the other things [horns bias],” Dr. Skanson said.
One Step to Get Started
Slow down the hiring process and take the time to understand the candidate's character, competency, and craft. Rather than rushing to fill a position due to a scarcity mindset, he advises leaders to focus on finding the right person who will truly contribute to the school's success.
You can find this week’s guest on www.schoolprok12.com and on social media @skansone.
To help you implement the ideas of creating a new staff community following new hires, I’m sharing my Staff Meeting Agenda series starting with co-creating Community Values & Agreements with you for free. And, if you’re looking for more details on the ideas in this blog post, listen to episode 148 of the Time for Teachership podcast. If you’re unable to listen or you prefer to read the full episode, you can find the transcript here.
f you enjoyed this episode, check out my YouTube channel where I share sample student and shared leadership structures:
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Lindsay Lyons (she/her) is an educational justice coach who works with teachers and school leaders to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice, design curricula grounded in student voice, and build capacity for shared leadership. Lindsay taught in NYC public schools, holds a PhD in Leadership and Change, and is the founder of the educational blog and podcast, Time for Teachership.