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To be a successful 21st century principal, you need the right team around you. How do you recruit amazing 21st century teachers?

I’m starting a new international school in Phnom Penh so as head of this international school leadership team, I have been recruiting for outstanding 21st century teachers for the past few months. I have successfully recruited many quality teachers in the past but now I’m looking for something quite different, you see I want to make sure all my teachers are innovative, creative 21st century teachers, who approach education with a focus on entrepreneurship and sustainability. How can you do that too? You don’t need an international education masters degree or PhD to make inroads into international education and the local school system. It all starts with thinking strategically.

Let me share some of my strategies that might work for you too.


  1. I’ve developed a profile of the type of 21st teacher I want to employ; I suggest that you do that too. Start by looking at the best teachers at your school. Ask yourself, or even better, ask your leadership team: Who are our best teachers? Why? What are their attributes, skills and dispositions? Use the answers to these questions to create a profile of the type of teacher you believe is the best fit for your school.


  1. Use your newly developed ‘teacher profile’ to devise a set of 6-10 interview questions to discover the candidates who possess the qualities you are seeking. Develop 4-5 second round interview questions to really dig deep. Have all on-hand for the interview as you may wish to include your second round questions at the first interview if you feel the candidate is displaying many 21st century skills.


  1. Include questions to discover:
    • How the candidate will inspire students to innovate, create and problem-solve
    • Examples from the candidate showing that the teacher has a growth mindset and is ‘a learner,’ ‘a collaborator’ and a ‘change maker.’
    • How generationally savvy the candidate is and what strategies and skills they have to ensure they can work with Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y colleagues while teaching Gen Zs and Gen Alphas
    • Tech savvy, innovative and entrepreneurial skills and talents the candidate possess and how they will utilize them to enrich learning and teaching
    • What approach the candidate takes to problems. Is the applicant a ‘can-do’ person, a problem solver, someone who will show persistence, flexibility and agility?
    • How the candidate will facilitate 21st century learning for the students and community at your school.


  1. Now make the time to scan Curriculum Vitaes, Résumés and application letters and short-list based on those that fit the profile you have created. Preview e-portfolios and other materials prior to the interview. Do not waste your time interviewing those that do not fit your school’s profile.


  1. When interviewing, by all means make the candidate feel comfortable, but remember never provide answers to the interview questions.  Be patient, give them wait time, consider rephrasing or repeating the question but make sure they provide you with the information you require to ensure you are employing a quality 21st century teacher.


  1. Be on the look out for creative and diverse talents. If you notice candidates who fit your school’s profile and also look at different ways to meet the needs of your students certainly consider them. Employing people smarter than you and people who have a different skill set to you adds to the power of your teams.


  1. Look for leadership qualities and how they will complement your professional learning teams and grow your professional school culture.


  1. Always do a reference check, before making an offer. ALWAYS! Be sure to ask if the candidate is safe to work with children and ask the referee if s/he would reemploy the candidate.


  1. The ability to recruit, retain, and reward the best teachers is key for a 21st Century School. Providing ongoing training, development and mentoring once the candidate is employed is also a must.


  1. Use Peter Block’s6 Conversations to invite successful candidates onto innovative projects to develop their talents and offer exciting, purposeful and worthwhile learning projects for them and your students.


If you would like more help with 21st leadership why don’t you attend my next Leadership for the 21st Century workshop in March? I’ll help you identify your strengths and weaknesses as a leader, show you how to disrupt, innovate and bring change to your school as well as create innovative high performing teams to really meet the needs of 21st century learners. Find out more about it here.


The date doesn’t work for you? Then check out my new online leadership course here. You can take it anywhere and anytime.


Looking forward to hearing all about your amazing new 21st century teachers.

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