Infinite Resumes Are Never Read
With my rant about the vendor-branding pyramid schemes for teachers out of the way, I was left with a more general unease about the weak communication channels that teachers and schools use to find each other. In short, how can schools be sure they’re hiring great teachers?
I’m setting my pedantic phaser very wide here and using a phenomenally broad definition of great. If we view this from a hiring school’s perspective, let’s assume that the institution has a clear mission and ethos which creates a precise and unambiguous profile of “great teachers.” Even with that in hand, how do you approach the labor pool and find the best teachers for your school?
The systems I’ve seen in place over the last decade boil down to epic stacks of resumes, commercial placement services where fresh college grads cull that down to merely giant stacks of resumes, and personal connections.
I’ve clearly tied my future career prospects to the power of the blog/twitter space to broaden the scope of personal connections. I’m a fair-to-middling conference schmoozer, far more likely to pursue brass tacks conversations with peers than career-focused glad-handing. Given that, I can only hope that if I continue to reflect in public, continue to write from the core of my experience and passion as an educator, then those conversations might balance out the missed small talk opportunities. Some point, in the far far future.
Right now, the value of an educator’s public persona is entirely based on the exposure and involvement of the individual or committee managing hiring and recruitment. If the folk reading resumes think that the blogosphere consists of Facebook and the Huffington Post, then that school has no way to identify the brightest and most dedicated educators in their applicant pool.
As an example, right now I would hire Fawn Nugyen in a hummingbird’s heartbeat (if she was looking, which she’s not). I’ve seen enough of her classroom, her teaching craft, her dedication and imagination, the smiles of her students at a pre-Mathcounts breakfast, to know that she’d make incredible contributions to our teaching faculty.
But the school doesn’t know that. My admin doesn’t know that. The dean of faculty shifting through piles of curated resumes might appreciate the material on Fawn’s blog, but the chances of the 23 year old who prepared that stack at CS&A discovering and recognizing that value is vanishingly small. What makes Fawn’s strengths as a teacher so obvious to many of us isn’t as overwhelming in a hurried once-over of her posts. To be blown away by the value she would bring to a staff requires being an similarly active participant in the same twitterblogosphere. At that point, it’s no longer blog-content that’s driving the decision, it’s because we know her as a teacher. That far future has arrived to tiny fragile pockets of blog-social connection, but that seems to be just as fragile and haphazard as swapping cards at NCTM.
My point is that if you’re counting on someone retyping your blog URL from a printed resume, there’s not much to distinguish anyone’s lived, holistic, authentic work from the two-posts a year resume blog.
Clearly** we need an super-trustworthy ecosystem of 3rd parties to swoop in, identify the Top 100 teacher blogs and hand out some gorram badges!