In my role as the Dean of Academics at Ursuline Academy of Dallas, there are three challenges for us in the hiring process:
During our interview process, we look for candidates who we believe are going to be an excellent fit for our community. At Ursuline, that means a teacher who is genuinely excited to work in a faith-based school. Additionally, we seek teachers who demonstrate a genuine eagerness to grow in their craft and profession. Successful candidates for Ursuline teaching positions authentically engage in giving and receiving feedback, even in difficult moments. And they find joy working with teenage girls.
As in many schools, the interactive part of our hiring process begins with a 30-minute initial interview. Then, If the candidate feels they may be a good fit, we invite them to campus to conduct a sample lesson for a class of students, after which we ask the candidate what they think went well during the lesson and what would change if they could go back in time. We want our candidates to be able to reflect on themselves and their thought processes. Candidates also submit an Ursuline employment application and resume. After one more final interview, we call three references, and we ask the candidate to submit a writing exercise with typical scenarios they may encounter at Ursuline. The writing exercise gives us insight into the approach and tone with which a candidate would approach these scenarios.
During our interview process, we leave time for candidates to ask us questions. The most important question I get is, “Why do teachers love working at Ursuline?” This question encompasses so much, and I know the concerns underlying this question are “How will the school support me? and “Will I belong here?” I recommend that anyone involved in hiring spend some time reflecting on their answer to this question. What support and opportunities exist at your school?
At Ursuline, that looks like highlighting our faculty support, school culture, and the great opportunities unique to our school. From our Mentoring Program that ensures a positive onboarding experience, to our sense of camaraderie among our faculty, fostered by meaningful support and training systems, to our travel-based professional learning opportunities, I am able to articulate what makes Ursuline a distinct community that teachers love to work in. Whether or not a candidate asks this of you in an interview, having a compelling answer prepared will help you find candidates who are great fits for you and who understand both what your school values and what this opportunity offers.
Looking ahead to the next several years, we must continue to find ways to retain excellent faculty. Hewing closely to the question of “Why do teachers love working here?” not only in the hiring process but as part of all your systems for faculty support, will serve as a consistent reminder and connector for your faculty of why they love your school community.
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)