After Hiring Comes Firing.

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There is no greater responsibility for a school administrator than hiring teachers.

Well, there is the HUGE responsibility of opening juice boxes, but I’m not counting this one (the average civillian just doesn’t understand the complexity of this issue).fired1

I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again, interviewing and choosing staff members who will be in your building for the next 35 years is a big responsibility.

The biggest.

Except for the ability to open a small cardboard box containing apple juice and jamming a 2 inch straw into it without losing an appendage (I’m telling you it’s harder than it looks).

Here is what I know about the hiring process.

The position comes open.  It’s advertised.  Then 849 people you barely know become your best friend.

They email.  They call.  They drop by.  They will corner you in the grocery store.

They wave an uncomfortably friendly wave as they drive by your house for the 40th time.

They hang out in the bushes just outside your bedroom window (I wish I was making this up).

And they all want the same thing.

They want you to hire their niece.

Or son.

Or neighbor.

Or the kid who sat 17 rows in front of them in church ten years ago (being a good sheep in the Christmas play does not guarantee you will be a good Chemistry teacher… I’m just sayin’).

Everyone wants to help someone they know get a job.

And there’s nothing wrong with this (personally, I really don’t mind… and this isn’t sarcasm… as far as you know).


Unless, you hire this person and they turn out to be bad.

Really bad.

I mean bad like you have to duck when you  walk by their classroom bad (don’t laugh… we’ve all had to do it).

Hiring people makes you popular.

Until you have to fire them.

Then you become a terrible terrible person who fired a really nice kid.

A good kid from town.

From a good family.

Who just needed a chance.  Then a second chance.  And probably a 50th chance.

You will know this is true because when the firing takes place a concert-like crowd of people will show up at the school board meeting to express their disgust for you.

Which means it’s easy to hire a townie.  But it’s hard to fire one.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hire locally.  It’s just means they should have had a larger role than Sheep #4 in the Christmas play.

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16 Responses to “After Hiring Comes Firing.”

  1. Christine Archer
    on Sep 8th, 2011
    @ 8:43 am

    Just have to say that I really enjoy reading your blog.

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Christine Archer, Thank you.

  2. Alicia Kessler
    on Sep 15th, 2011
    @ 1:23 pm

    I agree w/the sentiments and I have nothing of value to add. I just liked the use of the word townie. It reminds of a good (or bad) 80s movie.
    Hope your year is off to bang. Mine in the tech world is a zoo.

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Alicia Kessler, All 80″s movies were bad… and good.

    A good tech person never runs out of work. I think Confucious said that. Or maybe it was Jeff Spicoli.

  3. pete post
    on Sep 21st, 2011
    @ 2:17 pm

    Hello Michael,
    Back in the saddle at Trinity – trying to inspire college students to become good teachers without scaring them too much – and assigning them to take a look at your blog for a little reality check. I sometimes struggle with writing letters of reference for students that ask me to do this but I haven’t actually watched them teach or (worse) may not have been very impressed. Then there are those that are very talented and motivated but can’t get past the TENURE blockade.
    Thanks for writing with such honest passion. If I ever send a teaching candidate your way I promise to be blatantly honest as well – although perhaps not quite as thorough as I have to be when my students apply to the school of which my wife is an assistant principal (living with school adminstrator’s can be its own special challenge).

  4. Samantha Rowe
    on Sep 24th, 2011
    @ 6:48 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this post on your blog. Your comments about the juice boxes made me laugh and brought back the memory of a time a juice box exploded when I went to open it for a child I was tutoring. I have to say that I am thankful that I am not in your position when you have to hire a new teacher. I know it has to be hard to not give a job to someone who you know, even if they aren’t highly qualified. I can see it making things awkward when running into them after not giving them the job. The same goes for having to fire someone.

  5. Kim Merk
    on Sep 25th, 2011
    @ 2:22 pm

    Hello Michael,

    Sorry for driving past your house so many times! Just kidding! I am a student of Professor Post’s who is a little older. I decided to take 4 years off and help with things going on around my house. After reading this post on your blog I was reminded of my previous job in a company that sets up cohort programs around the country. My job was to contact candidates and set up interviews. People would contact me in various ways asking question after question in regards to the position. I would ask them if they read the ad that was listed and gave information about the company, and most responded honestly by saying “NO”. I understand that jobs are hard to come by these days, but you don’t even know what company or anything about the company and are willing to apply still? Once these people were hired and given a chance they were proved to be really great, hard-working people. Most people had an ‘in’ of sorts such as a relative or friend referring them. Thank goodness I was proven wrong, and was given a chance to know these people more. Now, as I finish up my degree at Trinity, I understand that sometimes it takes connections to get a job in the education field. However, by showing a trait that proves you are a good candidate can get you places too. Thank you for writing with such truth about what really happens behind the scenes. I look forward to your future blogs.

  6. Lindsay
    on Sep 25th, 2011
    @ 7:37 pm

    Thanks for the post!
    This helped remind me of my anticipation toward the approaching task of finding a job as I finish up my last couple of years of college. I really appreciate your honest viewpoint of hiring teachers and the responsibility that the process entails. It also gives encouragment and motivates me to strive to be the best teacher that I can. Thanks for your blog; keep the posts coming!

  7. Stephanie Gotsch
    on Sep 26th, 2011
    @ 1:09 pm

    Thank you for your insight!

    I really enjoyed reading this post. It kind of scared me to know the extreme measures people take to get a job, sitting in the bushes is a little too much for me. I would not want to be in your shoes when it comes to hiring and firing teachers especially if you know most of the candidates. I admire administrators for school districts because I know how hard it is to run an entire school. I took an education class a few years ago and my class and I were put into two groups. Our teacher explained that we were school districts and we had to figure out what the teachers salaries were, who was in charge of who, etc. Figuring all this out while staying under budget. It was not an easy task at all. This post has also encouraged me to do as much as I can to become a great teacher so when I start applying for teaching positions I will have some great things to bring to the table.

  8. Anita Anderson
    on Sep 27th, 2011
    @ 9:05 pm

    I completely agree with this article. Hiring the right teachers for your school is a huge responsibility. I cannot even image how stressful it is to look through over 800 candidates that apply for one job. This article really shows me, if you are offered the job, out of so many people applying for it, you really have to give it all you got in the classroom and show you are being the best teacher you can be. Teachers are responsible for the life of each child in their classroom and that is definitely not a little job. Thank you for the blog post!

  9. Teresa Ebbers
    on Sep 28th, 2011
    @ 12:57 am

    I found this post really interesting, as being a future teacher and all. It really showed me that out of 849 people if your the lucky one to get the job as a teacher then you better do your best. Because as you said it is really important to being hiring someone who is going to be in your school for 35 years teaching students. If you hire that person and they end up being a bad teacher, you are in trouble because you not only hired them but also the students are in trouble. If the teacher ends up being a bad teacher and is not doing what they are supposed to be doing, the students then may not being getting the education they deserve.

  10. Cassie Horbach
    on Sep 28th, 2011
    @ 9:41 pm

    Thanks for the post!
    I agree with you totally!! I believe that people will do anything to help that one person they knew from that one time. They just like to have the idea in their head that they got the job because of them. I think it would be really hard to fire a person who isn’t working out and that you know personally. But I believe that it is the job of the principal to have the strongest staff in their schools. This post also reminded me of how finding a job when I graduate will be a big struggle, going up against 1000s of other graduates. I am motivated to become a great teacher and stand out from the rest of my competition when it comes time to find a job. I enjoyed reading your post. Thanks again!

  11. Joshua Pollema
    on Sep 29th, 2011
    @ 12:28 am

    Thanks for the post! As my classmates and I are going through our education program we hear stories of all kinds of things in the teaching realm. Sometimes I just think that our teachers are trying to make sure we don’t take anything for granted. I have come to realize that I should take nothing for granted. Good teachers are gifts. They are blessings. There needs to be more of them. Like the article says, its easy to hire a townie, but hard to fire them. As i anticipate becoming a teacher, I will strive to do my best and become a good, reflective teacher. I want to become a teacher that gives his best everyday for the students. Once again, thanks for the blog post!

  12. bryan engnell
    on Sep 29th, 2011
    @ 7:52 am

    Thinking about wanting to be that townie that gets hired back at my old high school it gives me a different perspective on where to teach and what my motives are. I see in schools these days where children of former principals are hired just because of thief connections to the district and I laugh. As sad as it is to say, these days its about who you know and not so much what you know. And that shouldn’t cut it. A person should be hired on what they can do and what they stand for. Not just for a familiar face. It’s happening too often these days when there are great teachers being passed up for good teachers.

  13. Kevin Barron
    on Sep 29th, 2011
    @ 5:37 pm

    Firing people in any profession never seems like a comfortable procedure. Hiring people at my retail job always feels like someone in management became an enemy and you could end up not working with your friend. It happens.

    In education, it is even more significant. I’m responsible for more than your happiness with a new tv or computer- your child is lightyears more important and knowing I have a vital role in the development in a person that will go on to be a fully functioning, taxpaying member of society is a lot of pressure! Do I feel like I will make mistakes teaching, especially in my first few years? Absolutely. However, am I going to learn from those mistakes and use my experiences to make a more positive outcome the second time around? Undoubtedly. There is a lot of competition out there and my first test is proving that I can rise above the others and show I can maintain that upward growth as an educator. Great article, thanks for posting, Michael.

  14. Catie
    on Oct 10th, 2011
    @ 11:47 pm

    It is interesting that this is how administrators feel about hiring and firing. I would never think that people actually do these things to get hired but it makes sense with the economy the way that it is that people would do such things. I sure hope that I am not going to be a teacher that has to go through these things and yes it is very important to hire the right people for the job because these are people that are influencing the children in America and that is a big deal.

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