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teach away teachers shouldn’t be a last-minute hire

It’s like anything really, leave it to the last minute and you’ll end up in a long queue with everyone else, waiting for whatever’s left over by the time you get to the cake counter. (Yes, this metaphor will continue to revolve around baked goods ). Maybe you really want a Victoria Sponge, but you left it late, got stuck in traffic, and well, by the time you get to the bakery, it feels like everyone else has had the exact same idea.

You stand in the queue, dread building, as you watch all the lovely sponge cakes walk off the shelf. Their smug owners are disappearing out the door and into the horizon. The lady at the till chimes “next,” so you take a deep breath, face the counter and try not to cry. There’s nothing left but a sad eclair.

You probably haven’t been asked this question before. In fact, I’m 90% sure you haven’t…

Do you want your teachers to be the Victoria sponge cakes of this world or, well, the sad eclairs?

You might ask what’s so complicated about hiring a teacher? And I counter with this: what is so hard about buying a cake?

It’s life. It’s tricky.

There are often unforeseen obstacles.

Maybe you spent your morning looking for the car keys while taming a toddler. Perhaps there was a traffic accident. There are so many things that can get in the way of buying a bit of sponge cake; a seemingly innocuous item on a to-do list.

Those complications are only multiplied when it comes to hiring great teachers.

Complications new teachers face that take time:

  • Obtaining visas is no joke. You are going to want plenty of time for candidates to get their paperwork in, sort themselves out and sail past this hurdle. With a job offer, there’s unlikely to be any issues aside from actually having the time to go through the process.
  • Booking flights can be pricey. This takes time, especially if candidates are footing the cost. Hiring far enough out that they can take advantage of cheaper flights will be a massive bonus for some. Nobody wants the stress of putting last-minute flights on their credit card right before they move to a new country.
  • Finding and researching accommodation. You might have a fair idea of where teachers will end up living. But they don’t! So this will be a big concern. They will want some idea about availability, costs and if you offer a stipend. Other concerns will be proximity to the school and basic facilities, how the average kitchen is equipped, what it might look like. You don’t need hard-and-fast answers, but painting an honest picture of what teachers can expect in your country is something you need to have thought about. Because these are questions teachers will have.
  • Packing up entire lives. Whether it’s forwarding their post, giving notice on apartments, finding suitcases, saying goodbye to family and friends, trying to get their lives under the weight limit of 50 kg… all of this is a headache and a half. Teachers need time to sort it all. You don’t want teachers arriving half-organized and stressed out of their minds, they need time to adjust to what is a significant life change.
  • Giving notice in their current roles.Many great teachers are already teaching, which is wonderful – they have experience, they know what the job takes. Too often I see schools hiring teachers out of work, even though they may not be the best candidate. Great teachers often find their next role before handing in their notice, or start looking before renewals. That means you need to be on the lookout for teachers now, and not just when you need them.
  • Researching your school. Some people will just go where the wind takes them, with little concern for logistics, school culture and all the rest. But most people want as much information as possible. They will need some time to google you, read online reviews and get a feel for the school and surrounding area. People can spend hours and hours researching a two-week holiday, imagine how long they can spend researching a place they’re planning to set their lives up in.
  • Reaching out to other teachers at your school. This is one of the best ways to transition a teacher into your school. Set them up with a communicative, like-minded teacher who was either in their shoes or has enough empathy to understand what moving across the world is like. The new teacher is likely going to want to ask them a truckload of questions about the school, and well, questions take time…

This might sound like an awful lot of hand-holding to you. But taking the time to consider where these teachers are coming from and the time it will take for them to make a balanced and informed decision is pivotal. You don’t want them to agree in a hurry and then jilt your school at the last minute. If they’ve had time to consider and become properly informed, they’re going to be a lot happier and better prepared in the classroom.

Rushing it reduces the quality of teacher at your school

I was recently chatting with a school that is struggling to recruit teachers in Moscow. They’ve got a strategy in place that they assured me “always worked before.” I bet you’re wondering what that strategy is? Well so was I!

Naturally, I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions or make any suggestions without getting a feel for what was really going on, maybe something about their school was broken? It couldn’t possibly be as simple as a defunct strategy, maybe their website was down, or they were cutting spending on recruitment.

After a few minutes it became clear what the problems were:

  1. Their recruitment strategy was too basic. It left too many rocks unturned and far too many teachers unaware of their presence.
  2. They left recruitment too late, so ended up hiring teachers by waiting for staff in other international schools in their area to jump ship.

Yup, they were recruiting their competitors’ castoffs

I’m all about reduce, reuse, recycle in the broader sense – but when it comes to teachers, I’m not so sure. If they just happen to be hanging about, and you happen to be hiring, how much of a choice are they making? Isn’t it better to hire teachers who have decided wholeheartedly to work for you? Who are excited to make a home there and see what you have to offer?

Will a quick hire be the best possible teacher you could imagine working at your school? Just because they happen to be in your city…is a convenient hire, the best hire? Clearly they, or the school, were unhappy – and you have to wonder if they’re going to be able to stick it out at your school.

Are you hiring quitters?

Your strategy is SO 2000 and late…FIX IT! ️

….as the heading implies, trends do not last forever, and you need to stay ahead of them. Just when you get comfortable with your strategy, it is likely that there will be a new innovation or development that can enhance your recruitment. Finding a recruitment partner (like Teach Away..ahem! ) is imperative when it comes to keeping your school moving forward.

Think about it this way…

Why do parents choose to send their brood to your school and not your competitor?

If your STEM teaching staff are made up of your competitors ‘castoffs’ and not the finest educators you can source, are you really going to remain the top choice?

Do you personally rush into choosing a new role the second you have let your school know your intentions to leave? Or do you research schools and roles for months in advance, carefully constructing a hit list of desired locations and target schools?

I’m guessing the latter. It’s only fair that you give your future teachers the same time and consideration you expect. That means – using recruitment solutions, social media, your website, better job postings and making your school as visible and transparent as possible.

Don’t let poor timing be the enemy of your school’s excellence.

In case I haven’t hammered the point home already, all of this takes time. And it’s my job to help you find that time and make sure you get the best quality teachers teaching in your classrooms. If you’re curious about how to make recruitment easier, tweaking your strategy, or just having a general chat about whatever ails your school…feel free to contact me! I’d love to hear your thoughts.