How Metropolitan School is tackling teacher recruitment challenges amid the pandemic

Header image for teacher recruitment Q&A.

The last few months have challenged us all. In many ways, the pandemic has forced us to rethink traditional practices as we move forward cautiously. 

With all of the uncertainty in the world today, recruiting top teaching talent shouldn’t be another challenge you are facing. 

We wanted to take a closer look at how other international schools are weathering the situation. In this blog post, we'll put the spotlight on Metropolitan School. 

Metropolitan School is based in Cairo, Egypt and delivers an American-based education curriculum while maintaining Egyptian values and culture. The school prides itself in offering students an international perspective and preparing the next generation for globalization and multicultural partnerships. Metropolitan School is the first school in Egypt to introduce an entrepreneurship program.

We sat down with the Deputy HR Manager, Heba Fahmy, from Metropolitan School to gain an insightful perspective on some of the burning questions you might be facing about recruitment today.

Keep reading to learn about how Metropolitan Schools are proactively dealing with unique recruitment challenges brought on by the pandemic. 

Q&A with Metropolitan School

1. What type of teachers is Metropolitan School looking to hire and how many teachers do you typically hire in a given year? 

Metropolitan: Metropolitan School is building a community where teachers, students and colleagues learn and grow together.

We will employ, promote and develop all colleagues based on experience, ability, qualifications, and competence. We will not discriminate based on age, gender, nationality, race, religion, color or orientation.

We are excited we found some highly skilled people to join our team already and continue to grow. We typically hire anywhere between 10-20 overseas teachers annually. 

Ideally, we look for US certified teachers with 3-5 years of experience. It is always a plus if the candidates have previous international experience, but we have also found great candidates who were first-time international teachers.

 

2. Has your approach to recruiting changed since COVID? If so, how has it changed? 

Metropolitan:  Since Covid, we have made some alterations to our usual recruitment plan. We are now a little more flexible with the duration of the contract. 

Since we lost a couple of staff members due to the global pandemic (staff who left for the summer and decided to stay back home with their families), we provided some flexibility with our contract duration. We hired new members on a one year contract. 

We have also hired a non-certified substitute teacher (but with substitute experience) as back-up since an extra substitute teacher is needed due to the new absence and sick leave policies, again related to the pandemic. 

Teachers’ start date changed this year since we flew teachers to Egypt a little earlier this past summer, so we had to accommodate this earlier start with an extra half month of housing allowance. We resorted to hiring non-teaching partners of teachers as subs, also to fill in the gaps.

 

3. Are you currently recruiting for positions? 

Metropolitan: Yes. We will be posting our positions for the new season shortly.

 

4. Why did you choose to partner with Teach Away to support your recruitment needs?  

Metropolitan: Teachaway is easy to access and we have historically almost always received great and suitable candidates through your database. 

Photo of online recruitment.

5. As you are aware, Teach Away has been a ‘digital first’ company for over 15 years - as a valued partner, what benefits has this brought you?  

Metropolitan: This benefit has been dramatically highlighted in your online-fairs, as it allows us exposure without the need to visit recruitment fairs in-person.  

 

6. Do virtual recruiting fairs work as well as in-person recruitment fairs? 

Metropolitan: Virtual fairs are far more effective, in our opinion. The candidates who log in have the right mindset and suit today’s online world’s digital requirements.

 

7. What has your experience been with online recruitment fairs? 

Metropolitan: Productive. We did have successful hires with Teachaway online fairs.

 

8. What were your thoughts on the last Teach Away online fair in October? 

Metropolitan: It was very good and beneficial, the video chat option was also very helpful.

 

9. How has the teaching talent pool changed since COVID? 

Metropolitan: Fewer candidates for sure, as teachers/administrators tend to now think twice before moving, but we do hope for the best for the new season.

 

10. What are your top two challenges currently with recruitment? Have your challenges changed since pre-pandemic times? How do your current obstacles compare to those from a typical year? 

Metropolitan: The biggest challenge has been replacing teachers who left after the beginning of the year. Travel arrangements and COVID testing requirements are the biggest challenges we face with current recruitment.

 

11. What is Metropolitan school doing to retain existing teachers given the challenges in recruiting new ones?

Metropolitan: We are in the process of planning for this. A sign-on bonus is part of the plan. Stricter improvement plans and PD are in the pipeline to address any weaknesses and work on teachers’ performance, to minimize leaving teachers.

 

12. In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about the international education landscape today?

Metropolitan: The biggest misconception is that teachers have it easy when following a hybrid model. 

The reality is teachers have to execute at least double the amount of work just to meet the expectations of a very new and very challenging and diverse hybrid model, as well as serve students and families the best they can. Teachers had to fully step out of their comfort zone to be able to adapt and deliver.

Every school administrator knows how hard it is to keep students and communities and staff safe. We have to develop new policies and procedures, adjust medical coverage policies, keep parents satisfied, keep staff feeling appreciated and ensure students learn.

 

Wrapping up.

We hope you found these answers helpful and insightful.

It looks like beyond the pandemic, digital recruitment is here to stay. But online recruitment doesn’t have to be complicated and can often lead to better results than traditional recruitment methods. 

Does your school need help navigating online recruitment? 

We’ve been in the online recruitment game for over 15 years, helping schools worldwide find the teachers they’re looking for quicker and at a low cost. 

We’re here to help you streamline online recruitment during these uncertain times. 

Join us and other leading international schools like Metropolitan School at one of our upcoming online fairs. You can expand your reach and meet hundreds of teachers who are interested in teaching abroad. 

Or take a look at some of our online recruitment services to find a solution that fits your needs. 

Metropolitan schools already have a number of great vacancies available on the Teach Away job board. Learn more about Metropolitan School.