Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Month in Review

July 4th 2008 in BaltimoreHard to believe that summer is almost over.  Colleagues that aren't in a state with a "King's Dominion" law on the books are only days or weeks away from the start of a school year.  Let me know if you have any lingering HR 'issues' that you need tackled before the start of the year.

Here were the most viewed posts on School HR for the month of July:

Should Principals Have Facebook Friends at Work?

HR for Principals: The Gag Reel

HR for Principals: Interviewing and Hiring, The Post Script

The Principal's Golden Rules

HR for Principals: Interviewing and Hiring Part II

Thanks again for reading, sharing and being a part of my PLN.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Last Minute Guest Post Opportunity

Guest House MotelMy wife, Lisa, and I are taking a well-deserved but last minute vacation next week.  Rather than let the blog sit dormant or re-post old articles I thought I'd open the blog up to fast writing guest posts.  Generally, I write on HR and employee related issues for school administrators but I occasionally dabble in ed tech and general ed related issues so the topics I'll accept for publication are pretty broad.

Articles should be 300 - 1000 words in length and include an author's bio and contact info.  Pictures, if included, should be owned by the writer, copyright free, or under a creative commons license.

Send me a brief proposal (scottazieglereds@gmail.com) and I'll reply with additional instructions.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Principal's Golden Rules

gold cast bar

  • Student learning comes first.
  • Make every decision as if it will be challenged; in most cases it will.
  • Never miss a deadline.
  • Don't mess with the money.
  • We are team and will function as such.
  • Take time for yourself.
  • When you err, err on the side of children.
Did I miss any? I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, July 20, 2012

HR for Principals: The Gag Reel - 5 Questions Not to Ask


Okay, after today I promise I'm done with interviewing and hiring!

In this series we've looked at the process of interviewing and hiring teachers.  I've given you some tips and some things to watch out for.  Do it right and you'll have a building full of bright, energetic, committed teachers and classrooms full of students who are learning and doing exceptional things.  Do it wrong and you'll wind up responding to an EEOC complaint, a law suit, or worse - you'll have teachers who aren't bright, energetic, or committed and your students will suffer.

Today being Friday here's a tongue-in-cheek look at five questions you should never ask during an interview.

1) (Directed to an obviously pregnant candidate) Congratulations on the baby ... do you think its fair to leave your students without a teacher for half the year while you're giving birth?

2) In my experience, no one over the age of 40 knows a thing about ed-tech ... give me 3 reasons why I shouldn't go with a younger candidate?

3) You know, I really need a male teacher to coach defense on the football team but since you're here already why don't I have just a quick look at your portfolio?

4) Says here you already retired once.  Aren't you a bit old to be starting over?

5) Why don't we discuss this opportunity over dinner?

Photo Credit (CC) Tim Ellis

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

HR for Principals: Interviewing and Hiring - The Postscript

True Diversity Dinner

I know, I know.  I said that Interviewing and Hiring Part III was the final installment in the series but sometimes something so important comes up that you just have to write.

Today's installment is the postscript.  The part of the letter that comes to you after all the really important stuff is on the table but that absolutely must be included.

PS - A Word of Caution

I can't give you the back story on this post - confidentiality and all - but let's just say your staff knows your hiring patterns.  Have a proclivity to hire "eye candy?" Your staff knows.  Favor younger applicants over older applicants? Your staff knows. Think only men should teach 5th grade? They know.  Favor one race? Believe me, they know.

And guess what else ... they're talking about it.

Take Aways

  • Look for patterns in your hiring. The easiest way to do this is to pull your hires for the last 5 years and look for commonalities. 
  • Sometimes we have associations based on things like race, age, gender that we're not fully aware of (or don't fully acknowledge).  Go to a site like Project Implicit to test your own perceptions about race.  
  • Make sure your interview panel is diverse in terms of age, race, and gender.  If you have to override a decision made by the panel, be able to articulate sound reasons for doing so.
  • And if you find that you have engaged in some sort of pattern hiring - have the maturity as a leader to change it!
Photo credit (cc) - Mel Green

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ted Tuesday: Arduino

Why haven't I heard of this before?

Open source creation, the makers movement, and kids making incredible things with simple yet advanced technology.   Massimo Banzi shares his vision and his invention.

Direct link: http://www.ted.com/talks/massimo_banzi_how_arduino_is_open_sourcing_imagination.html

Monday, July 9, 2012

HR for Principals: Interviewing & Hiring Part III

This will be the final and shortest post in my series on interviewing and hiring teachers.

The most important question you can ask a candidate during the interview process is, "Do you like children? Do you see yourself liking children in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?" Teaching can be tough - it must all start and end with the kids.

I've run across too many teachers over the years, even first year teachers, who couldn't answer that question in the affirmative.  I know they wouldn't dare interview at your school but better to be safe then sorry!

Classroom with Three Figures
Photo credit (CC) - Flickr username cliff1066â„¢

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Distraction: Free Technology for Teachers

Today, I'm guest posting over on Richard Bryne's "Free Technology for Teachers" with a post entitled, "How to Ace Your Interview for a Teaching Position."  Click through to read the entire article.

Monday, July 2, 2012

HR for Principals: Interviewing & Hiring Part II

Probably the most bizarre job interview she has ever had.
Probably not the ideal teaching candidate!

This post is part 2 in the series Interviewing and Hiring.  Last time we looked at applicant screening and candidate selection (If you missed part 1 click through here).  Today we'll look at the interview process.

I like to break the interview process into three distinct steps or processes.  Preinterview, interview, and post-interview.  Each step in the process is equally important - fail to develop quality interview questions and you'll lack insight into your candidates.  Fail to check referrences and you'll get burned post hire.  So take time to develop each step.  Keep in mind that recruiting, hiring, and retaining a quality instructional staff is one of the principal's most important jobs.


  • Sit down with the job description, the anticipated teaching schedule, and the subject or grade level curriculum to develop interview questions.  Your questions should be as job specific as possible.  If you're looking for an Algebra teacher gear your questions toward Algebra rather than mathematics in general.  If you're looking for a primary teacher ask questions about teaching young children rather than teaching intermediate children.  
  •  Make sure all of your questions relate to the position for which you are hiring.  Do not ask questions regarding age, race, color, gender, pregnancy, religion, national origin, martial status, or disability.  Sometimes even a seemingly innocent question or comment can come back to bite you on the rump.  Let's say you ask an obviously pregnant candidate a question like, "Congratulations on the baby, when are you due?"  You think the question shows a personal interest in the candidate, the candidate, who doesn't get the job, thinks you discriminated against her because she's pregnant. 
  • An aside for my colleagues at the secondary level - I know you need coaches but I think that you should select teachers first and coaches second.  It's okay to ask  something like, "We have a lot of student sports, activities, and interest groups here ... would you be willing to help out or apply for coaching positions for which you are qualified?"  And for heaven's sake don't ask every Social Studies teacher if he wants to coach football.  I can't tell you how many times I had to respond to that question!
  • Do call on candidates to demonstrate proficiency.   Have a computer with web access available so candidates can show your their professional digital persona.  If they bring a portfolio, take a look at it, and let them walk you through its contents.
  • Don't shy away from tough questions.  Here's a few that I like, "How do you build student engagement?" "What does diversity look like in your classroom?" "How do you build on and enhance diversity?"  "How do you respond when a student doesn't get it?"  "How do you support struggling learners?" "How do you support advanced learners?" 
  • Ask, "Can you show me what that looks like either in your portfolio, your online work, or by sharing an example?"
  • Print all of your questions on a response/scoring sheet and print copies for your interview panel.  Leave room for panel members to record notes and reactions.  
  • Assemble your interview panel.  Include department or grade level chairs, assistant principals, curriculum specialists and other experts.  I'm not inclined to include parents and students on interview panels but this is a growing trend.
During the Interview

  • Don't rush the interview, allow ample time for each candidate to share his vision and experience.
  • Stick to your predetermined questions but feel free to ask reasonable follow-up or clarifying questions.
  • Let the candidate do most of the talking.  
  • Don't argue with or prod the candidates for answers.  If an answer is substandard, note it on your response sheet and move on.  
  • Before ending the interview thank the candidate for their time and let them know the process you will employ for making a final selection.  
Post Interview

  • Immediately following the last interview have the panel rank their top candidates and compare your rankings.  If a panel member has a favorite, allow them to advocate for that candidate.  Try to reach consensus but reserve the right, as principal, to make the final decision.  Make all decisions contingent on a favorable reference check.
  • Check references.  Don't rely on the references submitted to a web-based applicant system.  I once read an applicant's reference that was sent to the same email address the applicant used to register.  Pick up the phone and call. 
  • Be cautious about looking at a candidates personal social media pages as there are some major pit falls to avoid.  (The pit falls would fill an entire post so let me know if you'd like additional information.)
  • Select your candidate and follow district procedures for making an offer.  
  • Send a letter or email to those candidates not selected. (Make sure #1 accepts the offer before your send rejection letters to #2 and #3!)
  • Keep all information related to the interviewing and hiring process for three years.  
The last step is to put supports in place for the new teacher in September.  Assign a mentor, visit her class during the first weeks of school and take steps to ensure success.  


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