In November I spoke at the 5th Annual International & Bilingual Schools in China conference in Guangzhou, China. There were excellent speakers with insightful commentary on the seemingly endless growth in the international education space. They highlighted many challenges associated with this growth - marketing, regulations, admissions. Then they proposed unique and effective approaches to address each challenge.
Except for one BIG challenge; the teacher shortage.
Sourcing teachers has always been hard, and getting them to arrive at your school has always been even harder. But at this conference, the issue seemed even more pressing. Some developers were identifying the teacher shortage as a potential limiting factor of continued industry growth. Not investor funding for new schools, nor a slowdown in parent demand for international education. A lack of teachers. Plain and simple.
Chatting with some principals over coffee about how they planned to tackle the teacher shortage, many noted that they were being forced to spend more on job-posting this year.
“I think you’re tackling the wrong problem.” said one head of school. It was a bold statement that turned heads. I was delighted to hear it because I couldn’t agree with her more.
The head of school was set to launch an international campus of a prominent brand over the coming year. She expanded, “I know getting applicants is hard, but the real problem is sparking engagement after signing a contract. If I don’t get that right, it doesn’t matter how many jobs I post and how many applicants I get. I won’t have teachers in my classrooms on opening day.”
Engagement: the one word that told me this school head would succeed in launching her new campus. She identified the necessity of the business process - the recruitment funnel - while keeping the candidate experience as the driving component. That’s a critical distinction.
Ignoring the rest of the funnel is a major risk for schools. We all know that sourcing - the top of the funnel - is hard. There’s no way around the empirical fact that there is a global shortage of teachers. However, sourcing and hiring are just the first steps in a teacher’s journey to their new school. The complex and friction-filled steps required after signing an employment contract presents a major risk for schools with innumerable opportunities to drop out.
This is where schools can get the most out of their recruitment dollars.
I know those risks well. I’ve led the largest teacher recruitment projects globally, sourcing, screening, processing, and relocating over 8,000 teachers to dozens of countries around the world. If my teams didn’t keep teachers engaged throughout the 6-10 month onboarding and relocation process, neither us nor our partners would be successful.
So, what do we mean by engagement, and how do we effectively engage our teachers during the relocation process? An excellent place to start is by evaluating your current processes to see if you are focusing on your new teachers or your admin staff.
Try asking these 5 questions;
Does my admin team understand exactly what a new teacher is going through in their relocation process?
Do my new teachers have clear expectations for this process? Pathway and timelines?
Is it easy for my teachers to complete the necessary documentation tasks?
Are my new teachers receiving the support they need in the way they want to receive it?
Do my new teachers feel prepared to contribute on arrival?
These are the questions you need to ask in order to bridge the empathy gap with your new-hires.
That is what we mean when we talk about new-hire engagement.
When we empathize with our teachers, recognize and address their pains in the relocation process, and ensure that we are showcasing how working at our school helps them achieve the gains they want to achieve in their life - then we engage. Meaningfully. Authentically.
That is the problem we need to tackle.
That’s why I started SkoolSpot, where our mission is to help international schools simplify the relocation, training, and verification of globally mobile educators. Our platform aligns the efforts of school heads, HR administrators, and teachers, providing clarity into the critical relocation process.
SkoolSpot centralizes the key elements of onboarding and relocation, allowing schools to;
We work with our partner schools to analyze existing relocation processes, make recommendations, and create citizenship-specific, preparation pathways for teachers delivered through engaging and mobile-friendly learning modules.
SkoolSpot simplifies communication through the Social Spot, a single location for your teachers to get the support they need - when they need it. Schools create discussion groups on key topics, reducing email and messaging volume by up to 55%, allowing for increased personalized support when necessary.
Say goodbye to emails full of documents. SkoolSpot centralizes the document submission process, making it simple and easy for teachers and administrators to upload and approve necessary documents.