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Thinking About the
Qualities You Most Want
In a New Hire/Teacher


"Stephen Covey (Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) says that any job is twenty percent knowledge and eighty percent interpersonal skills. I am interested in discerning what interpersonal skills a candidate possesses that will 'connect' with the student. This connection -- this caring attitude -- motivates learners to learn. I ask one particular question which seems to separate the wheat from the chaff. I ask What do you do to make students successful? I am interested in a teaching candidate who addresses the whole child. If the candidate answers the question with a strictly curricular answer, I disqualify him/her. (Mary Ellen Imbo)

"In my school we have a saying that 'learning from a teacher who has stopped learning is like drinking from a stagnant pond.' I want staff who do not avoid change but see it as a challenge." (Thomas Beckett)

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Undoubtedly, you've observed many first-year teachers during your career in education. In all likelihood, you've seen many first-year teachers come and go. If you could offer one piece of advice to this year's new crop of teachers, what you would tell them? What advice would you offer that might help them to succeed where others have not? Click to join the conversation. Share your thoughts and ideas so other might learn from your experiences.

"The one quality I try to find is a teacher who will be a 'kid magnet.' Once a student really connects emotionally to the teacher, then the rest will follow. Many things might lead me to believe that the candidate is a kid magnet. Some are based on instinct -- a feeling that I get from a young, enthusiastic person who has that je ne sais quoi, that intangible spark that would attract kids. I also look for people who are involved with kids outside of the school setting, especially music groups, theater, and sports. If I ask the right kinds of questions to let the personality of the candidate emerge, I can usually find that quality if it's there. Our committee just finished interviewing 26 candidates, and we found three or four with those qualities. All agreed that the candidates have that special something to become superstars -- and we will settle for nothing less!" (Steven Podd)

"There is a scriptural passage that states 'As a man thinketh in his heart so is he' and also 'Where one's heart lies so shall their treasures be.' I look for one whose heart is open and receptive to teaching children -- a person who knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that teaching is the greatest of all professions." (Sylvia Hooker)

Compassion is the key. "It's obvious that one must have many traits to be a good teacher, but the ability to place oneself in another's place is critical to achieving positive results. If a teacher has no understanding of another's feelings, the teacher will most likely be ineffective. When empathy and compassion are present along with intelligence, training, knowledge of subject, creativity... the learning environment is enhanced." And how can a principal determine whether a candidate has the necessary compassion and empathy? "I ask leading questions to determine if a teacher has empathy. I ask How would you handle a situation where one child is always chosen last? or What would you do for a child who always sits alone at lunch?..." (Gary Cardwell)

Take Five more to read one of these articles from Education World's "Principal Files" series: