How to Hire a Good Preschool Teacher

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Although hiring requirements vary between different preschools and early childhood education centers, site directors and hiring managers should follow some basic steps to find a qualified teacher. School (and often state) policy often dictates minimum credentials for preschool teacher employment. Individuals responsible for hiring should follow specific policy guidelines, while maintaining a search for the best teacher to fit the job. This may include education, experience, knowledge, as well as ability to fit into the workplace culture and productively work well with other employees.

Things You'll Need

  • Employee resumes
  • Notepad
  • Pencil or pen
  • Consult all hiring and managerial staff about new employee requirements. Brainstorm a list of qualities, education, and experience that can be considered necessary for the job. Some preschools may need to follow state or school district hiring requirements such as instructional certifications or years of employment in child care. Schools that do not have written policy to follow may want to consider what is important to the center's educational philosophy, such as instructional methods, discipline theories, or community building techniques.

  • Place an ad for a qualified teacher. The job title should be specific and include wording such as preschool teacher, early childhood education professional, child development educational professional, or a similar title. Post the ad in a highly visible, reputable print or online periodical. These may include local newspapers, online community resources, or college employment sites. Include a very brief job description, any educational or certification requirements, and years of experience necessary. Make sure to add a means for prospective employees to submit a resume such as an address, email, or phone number.

  • Review resumes based on educational and experiential qualifications. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children's (NAEYC) position statement on The Standards for Programs to Prepare Early Childhood Professionals, young children can benefit from a teacher's education (in child development or a related field). The higher the prospective employee's education is, the more child development knowledge he may have. Many preschools do not require teachers to have any post-secondary education. An associate's degree will provide a preschool teacher with a basic amount of theoretical and possibly hands-on experience in early childhood education. Bachelor's level employees will have a more in-depth level of knowledge, and may have several semesters worth of internship or practicum experience working under a a more senior level teacher. Preschool educators with a master's degree or higher will have superior knowledge of educational practices and human development. They can be expected to exhibit knowledge of best practices as directed by current research. Additional, bachelor's and master's level preschool teachers may hold state instructional licensure or certification.

  • Look for an above-adequate amount of actual employment experience working with preschool-aged children in an educational institution. This should be quantifiable and verifiable. Being a parent, babysitting many years ago, or occasionally watching a young relative does not count as real-life work experience. A good preschool teacher should have at least one year (most likely many more) of employment working with children in the age group that you are hiring her to work with. Although post-secondary internships and field placement practicums are highly important to an employees' professional preparation, employment experience ideally should be in addition to college or other post-secondary training programs.

  • Check the prospective employees recommendations or references. ask for references who know the individual's capacity to work with children or have specific professional understanding of the early childhood education system.

  • Request all state-mandated clearances. These may include child abuse and state police clearances in addition to a FBI background check.

  • Ask the prospective new hire to come in to the preschool for a half-day observation. This will help the individual understand the preschool better, and give you the opportunity to see how he interacts with the children. Use a notepad and a pen (or pencil) to take brief notes on the candidate's behaviors and attitudes in the childcare environment.

  • Check the preschool teacher's abilities and knowledge against criteria developed by a national association. NAEYC includes a section what teachers should be able to do in their statement on The Standards for Programs to Prepare Early Childhood Professionals. Look for an understanding of child development and learning theory, understanding and respect for other cultures and communities, the ability to observe and assess a child's development, knowledge of developmentally appropriate practices and early childhood content areas, and the ability to act in a professional manner. These can be gauged by observation and sample lesson plan/curriculum documents.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are looking for a teacher to work with a specific age group, such as four-year-olds, focus on individuals who have direct experience with children of that age.
  • If the teacher will be working in an educational team, ask the other teachers for input on job descriptions or daily duties prior to interviewing candidates.
  • Never violate laws or state policies in regards to fair hiring practices.
  • Do not ask potential new hires about information on race, age, religion, martial status, family life, or other similar topics during an interview.
  • Do not allow an interview candidate to remain unsupervised in a classroom with a child or children.
  • Do not disregard school or state policies when hiring simply because the individual seems like a good person.

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References

  • Photo Credit child image by Byron Moore from Fotolia.com
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