Running an online school - Part 3

This time I will delve into the world of hiring new teachers, which can be a daunting task for those new to running a business but is crucial to success.

Hiring of teachers

This area is tricky. You may have no experience of hiring at all. I suggest you put as much effort into this area as any other. However, I will give you the benefit of my extensive experience in this field. I have interviewed hundreds, if not thousands of candidates, both by myself and as part of a team. You do have to get it right as the hiring process is expensive, difficult and time consuming.

So, what is the hiring process all about? It’s like almost everything in the world of business, probably something like 90% planning, and 10% procedure. You must plan.

Put together a comprehensive job analysis

The starting point is a job analysis. You need to go through everything you will need staff to be and everything you require them to be able to do. Write everything down. Make a list of every requirement you will need. It is important to understand that no two jobs are the same and no two schools are the same. Your school is unique and your requirements are unique. This must be an ongoing process. You need to write down very task that crops up and every situation that you have to deal with and decide if they should be included in your requirements. This process never finishes in the dynamic world of new technology.

Job description and job specifications

The requirements are ordinarily split into two sections; the job description and the job specifications. The specifications are what qualifications and qualities the candidate needs and the description is their duties. You should include in the description all team tasks you wish them to undertake, not just their individual ones. Online teaching, as I have shown in previous blogs, allows for a level of teamwork impossible in a standard environment and you need to take advantage of this.

  • Qualifications: The simplest areas are what qualifications do you require? You will presumably require a professional teaching certificate no matter what they will teach in.
  • Teaching experience: You will presumably require a proof of teaching experience.
  • Experience/certificate in the teaching software: Will you require them to have experience/ certificate in the teaching software or will you train them afterwards?
  • Working hours: You need to think of hours of working in an online environment. What times will you offer? 24/7 for a global audience? Then what hours (time of day) will you wish teachers to work? This must be included in your planning.
  • Business form: Also, will they need to have their own business so that they can invoice you for payment? The country they pay tax in can also be crucial as for instance, the EU has different rules for EU nationals and outsiders and the US has its own requirements for paying people outside their system. If you are going to pay a salary you will need to consider how to make the payment legally. I will cover this in greater detail in a later blog as it will be the next area to write about, payment of staff.

Creating a job ad

After you have put together a job description and specifications, then you need to put it down in a job ad. that will attract candidates. This will vary according to the platform you choose.

Here are some special cases:

  • Hiring friends: Now you may have some friends who are teachers and maybe you can rely on them to start you off. If you are sure they will be diligent, professional and are good teachers, then you possibly can bypass normal hiring procedures. Is it a good idea? Probably not, unless you are sure they are good, and that you will have work for them, and that your relationship doesn’t come under strain with the changed dynamics.
  • Hiring technophobes: If you take my advice mentioned in previous blogs, to definitely not ignore technophobes, as, once trained, they will probably be more loyal because having gone to the trouble of mastering your system, they won’t want to switch, and so you may decide to advertise in a more conventional source, even a paper one. Linking into teacher websites and social media will be how everyone else is doing it, why not break convention and go a different route as well as these? You will get to teachers unavailable to other schools.
  • Hiring those who can be ignored by other schools: There is another avenue open to an online school that could unearth a rich vein of dedicated talent and that is those with disabilities. Pretty much no matter what disability a person has they can pop in front of a computer screen and teach. You could try contacting such groupings and organisations and say you are very open to the idea of hiring such candidates. Again, given the level of discrimination in this area, you may well get loyal, enthusiastic candidates who are below the radar of other schools.

Dealing with unsolicited applications

My experience is that having created a school website, unsolicited job applications come in on a regular basis. You can sift through these and see if any fit your requirements. I have had some success with this. It saves advertising and having to be available at specific times to reply to applications. If, having perused their cover letter and CV, you feel they may fulfil your requirements, you could set up an IM call with any further questions you may have. Unless you have unlimited time on your hands though, don’t contact all in this fashion. If there are discrepancies on their application, unreliable qualifications, bad English or whatever, don’t waste your time hoping they might be ok. Only choose those whose application fits your needs.

In the next blog I will continue in this vein, of how to recruit employees in the most efficient way.

 

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Gus Worth is a highly experienced writer and educator having worked in universities for nearly 20 years and being first published at the age of six. Currently in the English department of the American University in Bulgaria, he also writes extensively for the web and in print for many companies. He has a particular love of online teaching and enjoys helping teachers take their first steps in the exciting world of the future where you can connect with, and help students develop, all over the planet.
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