When I began teaching, our district had a type of drafting procedure where the names of all of new teaching recruits were placed before regional superintendents who then went through several rounds of choosing the candidates that would be placed under their charge. Principals were asked to submit names of new hires that had impressed them during their practicum placements, when completing volunteer hours, or during supply teaching visits and superintendents used these recommendations, along with other information collected during the interview process, to select their recruits. It was all very private and the results of the draft were not really supposed to be made public. But the principal for whom I ended working in my first years of practice revealed, out of about 500 candidates, I went first in the 1983-84 draft.
I have to say that, after years of being the last picked for teams, it was a real confidence booster to know that I was high on someone’s list!
As the excitement around the NBA and NHL drafts fill the media airwaves, and as the last of the available free agents are signed for both basketball and hockey, I’ve been thinking about whether the practice of drafting teachers to particular schools might actually work in the year 2012. I realize that union officials might frown on the practice and that some may already have their pens poised to ensure that our collective agreements are safe from this type of idea, but think about it for a moment.
Imagine gathering all of a districts new teachers into an auditorium or stadium at the beginning of the summer. There could be marching bands, entertainment and media coverage…lots of media coverage. All of the schools requiring teachers would be on hand and the eligible candidates would be sitting in the audience with their families and friends.
And then the official proceedings would begin. Based on some algorithmic formula worked out at the district level, schools would be assigned their draft order and, one by one, teachers would be chosen to fill available vacancies. As each participant’s name is called, they would be invited to come forward, don the school’s official jersey and take their place on the stage.
I think that this is an idea that has some potential; it’s certainly better than the rather uneventful, if not downright boring, way that teachers are assigned to schools now. I mean, this is important stuff. We’re talking about choosing the teachers that are going to spend 6-7 hours a day with your children. They are going to be responsible for leading them into learning, guiding their thinking, and influencing the choices that they will make. These are the people that are going to help your child find their strengths, their weaknesses and contribute significantly to how they move through the world.
Most administrators that I meet lament the fact that, while demands for high performance are increasing, the amount of control they have over important conditions like staffing, resources and strategic approaches is becoming more limited.
I think that an annual draft would serve to do a couple of things. First, it would allow administrators to have some say as to who is on the bus (and who is not?) Second, it would create a sense of public energy around the quality of teachers that are moving into our system. Third, a draft protocol might go a long way to building a sense of team in those schools where isolation and individualism are the order of the day. Finally, a draft might create a healthy drive towards excellence among teaching professionals.
It could be fun to imagine things like free agency, no-trade clauses, and waivers. It could be interesting to see faculties of education as part of the “farm system” where future teachers are scouted, trained, nurtured and developed.
As you can tell, I’m just starting to think out loud about this—still many directions to take the concept. For now, I’m going to trade some sleep for future consideration!