- The classical Christian movement is still young in America, so the pool of top instructors, while larger than a decade ago, is still not very large.
- Most classical Christian schools are working within severely limited budgets, and so, unlike public schools, they can’t utilize high salaries or major benefits as part of the package.
- Classical Christian education is still comparatively unknown, so good instructors, while intrigued, may not know enough to be bought in.
These are all hiring hurdles classical Christian schools face. But there is one they face which is not necessary, one which can and should be avoided. Current parents and teachers can make hiring season that much more difficult by asking a few unhelpful questions:
“Why are so many teachers leaving?” When an employer puts job openings on its website, no one but the executives and board typically know why those jobs are there. Does it mean someone is leaving? Does it mean someone is moving positions? Are positions being added? There are too many variables and too much speculation for this to be helpful for anyone not responsible for filling the positions. When an employer posts positions, it may not be because those exact positions are up for grabs; it could be that they are considering all options while trying to fill the positions which will actually be vacated. This means an employer may post more than what they need so as to have a wider net. I do this for Sequitur, and I know other employers do it as well. This could also mean they are trying to have as many options as possible as some teachers stay and some go, or as some indicate they don’t know their plans. If a teacher indicates they don’t know their plans, an employer may say, “Thank you for letting us know. We will go ahead and post the position while you determine your plans, and let us know as soon as you can so we can either take the job listing down or move forward with hiring.”
“Did you hear Mr. Fellows is not coming back?” This is another question based purely on speculation, and unless the person has spoken with Mr. Fellows or has a real interest in Fellows’ future, the question is likely motivated by gossip or malice or boredom. Even if it is true that Mr. Fellows is not coming back, no one but Mr. Fellows and his administrator probably know why, and it’s almost never helpful nor professional to spread these kinds of things around. If there is a sincere concern about Mr. Fellows’ departure, the parent ought to not speak with other parents but to Mr. Fellows and the school administrators.
“So, what are you going to do if you can’t fill the positions?” This is the kind of question a board should ask the administration or the administrators should ask one another, but it is not the kind of question which is helpful when coming from parents or teachers. Part of being in a community is knowing what our various roles are. And it would sometimes seem at schools all around the nation that current parents and teachers think their role is to talk and “pray” for the school in order to know every bit of detail going on inside and out. A school board and school administration are there to keep the voyage straight, mature the institution properly, and handle bumps in the road. Some of those bumps include too much talking about the bumps. A classical Christian school is set up not to be a cult of personality; we are all submitting to something much bigger than ourselves. And so filling teaching positions means finding the best people at this time for the right positions, and then that person entering into a curriculum and faculty and helping it mature as it matures them. Ultimately, because it is God who gives good gifts, and a good teachers is indeed a good gift, we must trust God to fill our open teaching positions. If he does not, than we act in wisdom, and we ask for parents and teachers to trust us. Ultimately, we ask them to trust God.
Just as current teachers and parents can make hiring season that much more difficult by asking a few unhelpful questions, so they can make hiring season that much easier by asking a few helpful questions:
“How can we pray for God to provide good instructors?” As mentioned earlier, good teachers are a gift from God. This means good teachers are an answer to human prayer, reaching to divine ears, and flowing from divine providence. It would be far more helpful, when parents or teachers have concerns, to bring those concerns first to God. Indeed, if some of us spent half as much time praying as we did gossiping, I suspect our schools, families, and churches would look much different than they do.
“What can we do to help ensure good instructors are identified?” Current parents and teachers play an important role in letting others know about job openings. The vast majority of hiring still happens by word of mouth, because someone heard about a job and shared it with people they thought may be interested in and capable for the position. When a parent asks “How can I help?” it lends a necessary component to ensuring good teachers are hired: it provides a willing voice, hundreds of willing voices even, to get the word out to the community and beyond. So, what can parents and teachers do to ensure good instructors are identified and hired? They can share social media posts. They can tell family, friends, and peers at church. They can apply for a position themselves. They can help put job postings on various digital or physical platforms.
“How can we make this academy more attractive to prospective teachers?” This is not often a question parents or teachers consider, but it is an important one. When a prospective teacher is considering a school, they should visit. And when they visit, they are getting a feel for the community, for the emotion of the place, for the rhythm, for the steadiness and joy. Parents and teachers play an important role in making a culture which is lovely and worthy of a prospective teacher’s commitment. I’m proud that Sequitur has the kinds of families and teachers who make it a lovely place to visit: from the parent-built coffee bar to the orderliness of carpool, I have no doubt prospective teachers will appreciate what they experience when they come to Sequitur. This can make all the difference.
In all, parents and teachers may think they are not important to the hiring process, but they are. Even if they are not the ones hiring, they can be important for recruiting, attracting, and keeping new instructors. And so this hiring season, whether you are a parent or a teacher, consider the questions you ask. Consider your part in the narrative. Consider what kind of character you are on the stage of your academy. Ask the kinds of questions and be the kind of person whom others would regret seeing leave the stage.