The coronavirus pandemic has pushed many school districts to quickly embrace new ways of teaching and learning. It also led them to move teacher hiring online amid uncertainty about the profession.
While some districts — especially those in high-poverty areas — have dealt with teacher shortages in STEM, special education and bilingual education, the pandemic’s impact on school systems may have exacerbated those.
According to a poll conducted by USA Today and Ipsos, a global market research firm, 1 in 5 teachers are unlikely to go back to school if it reopens in the fall because of safety concerns and remote learning challenges.
To combat existing and looming teacher shortages in a time of social distancing, more districts have turned to hosting virtual job fairs.
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Why School Districts Should Embrace Virtual Job Fairs
Beyond the safe hiring environments they offer in today’s world, virtual job fairs bring other benefits that school districts can take advantage of in the near future.
For starters, virtual job fairs are cheaper and more convenient to run because they don’t require any additional travel, advertising needs or location setup. They also enable prospective employers to cast a wider net for teachers because they’re not geographically dependent.
Some recruiters and administrators also say that hosting job fairs and interviews online allows them to better assess candidates and see whether they’re a good fit for their district.
With one-on-one video interviews, Henry County Schools in Georgia found that candidates had more genuine conversations with the hiring committee compared with an in-person interview, Education Dive reports.
Jolie Hardin, executive director of leadership development and employment services for the district, tells the publication that candidates were more relaxed, making it easier to see their true personality. “They appreciate the opportunity to really talk versus the formality of that 30-minute quick interview,” she says.
Finding Ways to Move Job Fairs and Interviews Online
Today, many school districts are using popular videoconferencing platforms to hold job fairs and interviews virtually.
Tyler Independent School District in Texas, for example, is having job fairs across multiple meetings on Zoom — one virtual meeting room per campus. Meanwhile, California’s San Francisco Unified School District interviewed 70 potential teachers over Google Meet in March and plans to do so again this month.
There are also platforms districts can use to simulate in-person job fairs. EdFuel, a nonprofit organization in the educational management sector, offers a platform complete with virtual recruitment booths that prospective employees can click on to learn more about the school they’re interested in and speak with a representative from that school, according to The Washington Post. The California Center on Teaching Careers has a similar platform, which even features a virtual teacher prep hall and is accessible on a web browser.
Other districts have been more creative in how they’re recruiting teachers. Rather than hosting a typical job fair, Pasadena (Texas) Independent School District asked applicants to upload two-minute video applications on Flipgrid, an educational video discussion platform, using a link on its website, the Houston Chronicle reports. The district contacted candidates who met the job qualifications and invited them to participate in a drive-up hiring event at the district’s administration building.
Thanks to technology, administrators and district leaders can still recruit and employ qualified teachers even if they can’t meet them face to face.