Recruitment and Induction Systems
This chapter begins the first of six in discussing the different systems involved in schools that will play a role in systemic disruptive change toward a greater education system. In all organizations, a key part of implementing change is recruiting and inducting new employees into the organizational culture. Schlechty suggests that, too often, schools do not have adequate induction systems in place for new employees. New teachers and principals are just thrown into the mix with only the classroom knowledge they gained in college, which is not enough for the job. One piece of the puzzle in creating great schools is designing and implementing effective induction systems in schools. Schlechty suggests that induction does not begin simply after one is hired, it begins when a potential employee begins research on the school district. The interview is the first formal part of induction and schools must be careful about how these occur. “Rushed interviews, sloppy communications, and poorly designed information packets all communicated that the school leaders are more concerned with filling positions than they are with the quality of the persons who fill these positions” p.73. Even if a school is in dire need of teachers, the selection of these is selecting those who will mold the future of the country, something which should not be rushed.
In order to design an effective induction system, there must be a clearly defined vision and mission and goals must be actively set and pursued. Everyone in the organization, from top to bottom, must also have adequate knowledge about these missions, goals, and visions for the organization and pursue them actively in their day to day routines. For example, a school district that believes that all students are capable of learning at high levels must hire teachers who deeply believe this and convey this message the to its community. Schlechty’s quote about this is as follows: “it would seem, therefore, that the beginning as well as the end of an effective system of induction is the creation of a clearly articulated system of beliefs to guide action and a well understood sense of purposed and direction among those employed in the school. p72”
Induction systems must encourage teachers and other school staff to promote engagement of students as well as other faculty members. Systems must be designed around the promotion of engagement because one cannot encourage engagement in an environment that does the opposite. Induction systems should encourage teachers to not simply be grudgingly compliant to engagement producing systems but to be morally involved. Calculative support is also not acceptable when it comes to systems designed to produce engagement because it is not genuine.
The overall culture and language of the school must also focus on engagement if that is to be the main goal and concern of the system. The focus must not simply be on having students in euphemized study halls but engaging them in their ‘off time’ in activities directly related to their passions and desires that will help them grow.
Recruitment is the beginning of induction and the process must be effective if the system of induction and the system itself is to be effective. Effective recruitment systems, like induction ones must have clear standards for admission that are clear to those already inside the school and those outside who may be applying. In recruiting for schools, ‘signing bonuses,’ merit pay, and ‘combat pay’ are not effective incentives. These incentives are only temporary and merit pay does not have a way to adequately asses quality teaching (test scores are a lousy excuse for a measurement). Instead, those hiring for schools should focus on offering growth opportunities for individuals such as leadership seminars, promotion from within opportunities, and potential career options down the road as incentives. Schlechty suggests that “it is well to tend to factors like salary and limited financial incentives, but the truly powerful incentives that can attract talented persons are embedded in the way the role of the teacher is defined and the work of teachers is designed” p. 78. Teachers need to clearly understand what their role would be in a particular school and be able to assess if he/she feels that they fit in that role. If the role is not defined, problems of productivity or role conflict may occur.
Once teachers have been selected through recruitment, those effective induction systems are put into motion. It is unrealistic to expect school employees to feel ready and capable on their first day of work to accomplish and deal with everything, but it is especially unrealistic if the teacher has not been formally inducted into the system of the particular school. Classroom education is simply not enough. While it would require a systemic change in the way the new school year begins with new teachers, inducting new teachers in cohorts is the most effective way to induct new members to the school culture. This allows newbies to have shared experiences with other new teachers and allows for a cohesion within the group. It is much less personally straining to go through a difficult or new experience in a group than it is alone.
During this induction process, moral and aesthetic norms will be taught as well as technical ones. New teachers will learn the conventions of the particular system they will be working in and should also be given a mentor. Mentors who are already in the system cans serve as a ‘big brother or sister’ to the new member to guide them in adapting to the norms and the challenges of their new surroundings. Newly hired teachers must also feel as if they are part of an elite group of individuals who were hand-picked for their jobs not simply picked because they applied first. Benchmarks of success and accomplishments by not only new teachers but veterans must also be present, defined, and recognized in order for systemic change to be effective.
Teachers who are hired at schools who are involved in the systemic change that needs to occur must be evaluated and understand that they should be morally committed to see the change through. Leaders in schools must also be morally involved. It is not enough for teachers to simply be, a community of moral involvement must be present.