Those who have read my blog for a while, know how vexed I get about educations willingness to beg for funding to do its job — to the point that begging has become a part of the institution. So you can imagine that I didn’t start this month’s issue of Interactive Educator with enthusiasm, when its feature article was Need Funding? Grant Providers and Winners Share Tips for Getting Approved. It’s a shame, because it probably colored my reading of an interesting and valuable article by Don Lipper and Elizabeth Sagehorn, called How to Hire Tech-Savvy Teachers.
On first scanning, I was not impressed by the article, especially it’s list of “Dos” and “Don’ts“. Reading the article more thoroughly revealed a prevailing theme that the teaching part is of greater issue than the technology part when considering new hires. Can they Integrate Technology. Even Will Richardson is quoted saying, “From a hiring perspective, if you hire learners who can teach, the technology will take care of itself.” I disagree that the technology will take care of itself. But Will continues with the most important thing I found in the article. He says,
If you hire teachers who aren’t really lifelong, continual learners, then you’ll have problems, not just with technology.
Bingo! You know, it’s not about the technology. It’s about the information. If a prospective teacher can demonstrate to me that he or she is a continual learner, and that he is using technology to learn, then I’m interested. Otherwise, I see a relic of times that are long past and a danger to the students in my school.
I talk often about contemporary literacy, where reading expands into the ability to find the truth in the information you encounter, and math expands into the ability to employ information to accomplish goals, and writing expands into skills for expressing ideas compellingly, and all of the ethical issues that accompany an information driven world. Increasingly, I see these new notions of literacy as learning literacies, the skills necessary to learn what you need to know in order to do what you need to do. This is what I would look for more than teachers who know how to integrate technology — I want teachers who are learning literate. THEN the technology takes care of itself.
All that said, the article did include some great questions for interviewers to use when looking for 21st century educators for your 21st century schools. Here are a few:
Note: Some of these are extrapolated from related statements.
- Tell me how you think the future you are preparing children for will be different.
- What web services do you use on your mobile phone?
- What is your favorite gadget and why?
- How often do others come to you for guidance in using technology?
- Describe the last new technology that you used and how you used it — and how you learned it.
- Describe the last thing you learned related to your work, that you didn’t learn in a classroom or from a book, and describe how you learned it.
Finally, I would make sure that the vacancy announcement would state that a teacher portfolio will be asked for.
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