It’s hiring season in independent schools. This time is full of contradictory emotions as we think about the people leaving but also imagine the talents and energy any new employees might bring. Last spring I published a post titled “Hiring Mission on the complexity of the process and how, for me, in many ways it boils down to someone who embodies the mission of the school.
So I read with great interest John Spencer’s at TeachPaperless blog on the notion of hiring someone with humility as the key to finding a 21st century teacher. In particular, I love this passage:
I'm not suggesting that administrators should deliberately search for unqualified candidates. Often, the most humble teachers have already done amazing things. Still, humility is the gateway to innovation and growth and sustainability. Humility works paradoxically to bring about greatness. Humility enables empathy and communication and collaboration that goes beyond the structures implemented by a school.
He has prefaced this by explaining that a teacher doesn’t have to know how to use all the technology, but, instead, has to be willing to ask for help. A teacher also has to be open to new methodologies and paradigms.
To me this notion also highlights how we have to re-think the role of the teacher within the classroom. No longer should we perceive a teacher simply as a subject expert, a repository of knowledge. And there is certain lack of humility inherent in that time-honored role. Besides, information is now pretty cheap, even free if you tap into the Internet at your public library. If education is just about running through simple right and wrong bits and bytes, then a teacher really could be replaced by a less expensive, more efficient processor.
Instead, the teacher must exhibit an insatiable curiosity—or at least fake it when necessary—about all that we don’t know. Because right now, the way just about everything in the world is swirling and reforming, we don’t know much. At least not for sure. And that’s really humbling.