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Dublin High School’s Principal Carol Shimizu on Hiring Amazing Teachers

October 19, 2015
Dublin High School Principal Carol Shimizu

Dublin High School Principal Carol Shimizu

Dublin High School, and most schools in the Dublin Unified School District, are experiencing explosive growth. Not surprisingly, that means school sites are under pressure to hire new teachers while maintaining the quality of education that has, in part, driven the growth. OneDublin.org recently met with Principal Carol Shimizu to better understand the hiring process for Dublin High School.

Mary Morehead: How and when do you identify staffing needs?

Carol Shimizu: “Staffing needs are determined in the springtime after counselors go to the middle schools to find out how many students are coming to the freshman class, and then working within each grade level of the high school to find out how many students will be returning.”

Morehead: Have you noticed a change in the calibre of teachers applying for positions at Dublin High School, and the number of candidates, given the positive press about the accomplishments of the school in recent years?

Shimizu: “We’re overwhelmed with candidates. This is a destination district, the word is out, teachers come here because they know the schools are high calibre, they love the Dublin community and they see evidence of parent support such as the new facilities and involvement in school events. We have our pick of really strong applicants. We’re very fortunate.”

Morehead: Outline the process that Dublin High School takes to interview candidates.

Shimizu: “In the springtime our District has typically had a teacher recruitment fair for Dublin’s high school, middle schools and elementary schools. There are other teacher recruitment fairs for the Tri-Valley and northern California. Our recruitment fair kicks off finding top candidates before they go out and apply for other positions.

“When a teacher shows interest, they are interviewed on the spot by an administrator and a teacher in the subject they represent. If it is deemed that a candidate is strong enough to move forward, he or she is invited to come back and present a lesson to a class.

“In addition to the teacher recruitment fair, jobs are posted to EdJoin, which is a site where teachers can apply to all grade level jobs in our District. We review the submissions of those applicants, and those that qualify are contacted for an interview with members of their department. There are typically 10 questions and 4-5 people asking the questions. High quality candidates are then invited to teach a lesson.

“Teachers sourced either way are observed teaching a lesson by administrators and teachers in the department, and feedback is taken from students receiving the lesson.

“Teachers who are a good fit for our students, the school and the department go through a reference check and if that’s favorable the teacher is offered a position.”

Morehead: Are you personally part of the process of observing potential teachers?

Shimizu: “Yes, for every lesson.”

Morehead: What do you look for in candidates beyond the required credentials?

Shimizu: “The credentials are first and foremost to ensure we are covering our courses with highly qualified teachers. The other things we look for are rapport with students, comfort with the subject matter, comfort in asking and answering questions, the level of critical thinking included in the candidate’s lessons, their comfort with technology, and their ability to assess student learning and give feedback to students. I personally look at the beginning, the middle and the end of the lesson – how the candidate opens the lesson and introduces the topic, what they’re going to cover, what the content of their lesson is, how they involve and engage students, and at the end how do they conclude the lesson, check for understanding and send the students off.”

Morehead: With the increased focus in STEM education what role does industry experience play in the hiring process?

Shimizu: “We have a number of professionals who sit on boards in support of our Project Lead the Way Engineering and Design and BioMed Academies, and they often tell colleagues, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for example, about positions. We have about ten teachers on-site who have direct experience in STEM education through their first careers. We have several engineers, several chemists, and mathematicians from industry. It’s a lot of word-of-mouth because it’s a big switch to work in a school after working in industry. It takes more than knowing the content. The fit is very important.”

Morehead: How are newly hired teachers monitored after school starts?

IMG_1707Shimizu: “Once teachers are hired there are several processes for monitoring their success. Department chairs drop in on classes and meet with new teachers during preparation periods to make sure they are comfortable with the material, their classroom and the students’ behavior and learning needs. The department chair is one level of support as are other teachers in the same area. Peer teachers meet on collaboration days for their professional learning communities and those colleagues assist with lesson plans, strategies for extending lessons, ways to monitor homework, assessment techniques, classroom management and other strategies for success.

“Each administrator, including me, serves as a liaison to a department, and we look after the new teachers in that department. I work with English, English as a second language and consumer / family studies & health. Maureen works with mathematics and the freshman program. Bill works with science. Karla works with world language. Paul works with social studies, PE and special education. We each have areas of specialization from when we were teachers, and we also work with new teachers.

“On top of all that there is TVTIP – the Tri-Valley Teacher Induction Program. Each new teacher has a coach for two years who works with that teacher to ensure they are progressing within the profession. New teachers attend courses on the delivery of content, classroom management or words of wisdom, things of that nature. The TVTIP coach has a confidential relationship with the new teacher – it’s a 1:1 relationship.

“It’s daunting for new teachers today. Teachers have to know more and be able to do more than teachers at any time in history. Not only do teachers have to be proficient with their content, proficient with the new standards for Common Core, but teachers today also have to be masters of technology – from the use of social media by students, to safeguarding against plagiarism and cheating, to communicating with students. There’s so much pressure on teachers today.”

Morehead: Although it is early in the school year, how many teachers do you expect to be hiring in the 2016-17 school year?

Shimizu: “Hiring for the next school year depends on a couple of things. The first is any retirement or movement among current teachers and the second is growth. We think we’ll grow with the next incoming freshman class which will impact core courses, possibly requiring additional teachers in those departments. This was a big hiring year for us with 22 new teachers so I don’t imagine we’ll need as big a number moving forward because this was a big bubble class, but we will need a few.”

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