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Teachers “Audition” for Jobs in Washington, D.C. Public Schools
posted by: Alix | September 27, 2012, 09:34 PM   

With the teaching profession growing and evolving, one theme that remains constant is the fact that effective teachers are the key to student success. In the Washington, D.C. Public Schools (DCPS), human resource personnel are videotaping potential hires to screen for effectiveness as part of a renewed effort to hire quality teachers. These classroom "auditions" allow principals and administrators to view sample lessons in front of real students in order to gauge skill level and boost hiring selectivity.

Traditionally, teacher recruiting has been about resumes, references and interviews. Videotaped tryouts under actual classroom conditions remain rare and are just catching on as an added dynamic in the hiring process. For example, a new survey of Los Angeles teachers by the National Council on Teacher Quality found that just 13% were asked to do any kind of sample lesson plan as part of their screening. This Washington, D.C. initiative is considered to be a cutting edge policy that allows principals to select the best teachers for vacancies in urban districts by seeing them in action in front of students in a classroom setting.

In a school system like DCPS, the hiring process has never been seen as rigorous. "For many years DCPS was known as 'Just show up and you'll get a job,' " said Jason Kamras, chief of human capital for the school district. "We would like to be one of the elite places to teach in America and for people to know that you've got to be really good to teach in DCPS." The District is also competing for staff with high-performing school systems in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Officials contend that selectivity will attract additional effective teachers to the school system.

Ms. Teresa Sowers was profiled in the Washington Post as an educator who went through the intense hiring process. A math teacher with six years of experience, Ms. Sowers took online quizzes, participated in a thirty minute interview with hiring officials, conducted a sample lesson in front of veteran teachers, and finally taped an "audition" in front of students at a Washington, D.C. middle school. Her lesson will now be reviewed by school officials, who will use the 360-degree camera to gauge not only her performance but how students responded.

Following this process, if administrators like what they see, they will upload the video with the rest of her application to a DCPS website where principals can view job candidates. This online bank of potential teachers allows each principal to select teachers for their own unique staffing needs.

While Ms. Sowers admitted that the District's process was tougher than others she has encountered, she didn't mind it. "It's a decent process because it will weed people out," she concluded.

What do you think about adding an audition component to the teacher hiring process? Would the process give principals better insight into prospective teachers to hire?

Comment below.

Comments (1)Add Comment
Not a DC Initiative
written by Kay Jackson, October 02, 2012

This is definitely not a "DC Initiative". I was interviewed and offered a job two years ago with KIPP NYC. I was required to record a sample lesson in my own class and upload it along with my resume. I was also recorded teaching a lesson in an actual KIPP NYC elementary classroom. I think this is a great way to recruit new and even veteran teachers, as it gives you a sneak peak at skills and potential prior to offering an individual such an important position.

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