I am a proud geek, with all of the trappings that come with that title. I enjoy playing around with gadgets. I am a Trekkie and a Star Wars fan. And, I collect comic books. As a self-proclaimed geek, I felt compelled to see the new Avengers movie. I wasn’t disappointed.
As I enjoyed this “team-of-heroes” flick, my experience had led me to expect a certain plot line. As predicted, the superheroes who had been introduced in movies of their own (Thor, Captain America, Hulk, and Iron Man) were brought together to form a SuperFriends team as part of a government programed called “The Avengers Initiative”.
When they were first introduced, there was no “chemistry” and the team didn’t get along. Only after a tragic event did the members gel and begin to work together and become more than just a sum of its parts. It didn’t matter how powerful or capable each superhero was, they couldn’t function together well and the Avengers were impotent until they were forced to form a team.
I couldn’t help but relate this movie to the experience of hiring new faculty. Every principal is faced with this challenge, and most would agree that creating a well-functioning professional learning team is a goal. Most, however, put the perceived quality of the teacher above all else. This is the primary failure of any administrator tasked with recruiting new teachers.
Because, as educators will attest, the quality of a learning team and the shared goals of a group of educators mean more than the skills of a single teacher. Talented administrators know that it is more important to build teams than rosters. Bill Ferriter addressed this same issue some time ago. He argued that a group of like-minded and committed teachers can accomplish more than a disparate band of super-teachers thrown together without any thought given to their willingness to work as a team.
What does this actually mean for the hiring process? First, if you are tasked with choosing who will join your faculty, cast a large net. Bring in all candidates for interviews with potential learning team members. Make sure that you have a chance to observe how the interviewee interacts with both teachers and students. And, when the time comes, make your selection with input from the teachers will be forming a team with the new hire. This procedure will go a long way toward earning the respect of the teachers in your building and developing highly functioning PLCs.
What else would you suggest for those faced with hiring for PLCs?