We Continue With The Funnel : Notes From the Wednesday Podcast
The concept of the funnel: to attract the right kind of teachers and discourage the teachers who do not meet our qualifying statements eg teaching qualification and experience.
We want people to have a standard experience doing a regular curriculum in a regular school. People have to know what they are rebelling against and have a clearly thought-out position about giving freedom to children.
Getting the house in order
When you are inviting people in from outside, you want to put the broom around to get the fluff off the floor. Here the visitors are applicants. We will not treat them as second-category humans but as royalty. We set the standard by the people we accept not the people we reject. When you are imagining someone sitting in their kitchen looking at the advert, the whole process should be a good one. They should say, “That looks like something I could do.” Then they will look further and at each stage they will be drawn in or rejected.
The advert leads them to a recruitment page on the webpage. That page will lead them further into the webpage: gallery, statements, mission statement. We specifically say that they must look at the webpage before they make the application. Then they have to get in touch to ask for an application pack.
We have worms on hooks
It is a taster thing and they can take nibbles and see if this is a job they like. There is an electric fence between tastes: that is because we want some people to drop away. We can let people with too much experience drop away and the people who have no experience. For example, if someone does not accept two years mentoring they are not the one.
We want applicants to know that this is a non-pedagogical school. WE take plain old curriculum and cut it back for the kids. They have to be willing to do this efficiently, expertly.
The information pack
We have a personal letter from the directors which is an important dimension of the application process. Jason was interested in the personal letter from Zoe in his application. Applicants make many applications at one time. What attracts people to a particular school is not the policies being in order, but a school with personality. At Summerhill the application paperwork was simple, but it was personal.
In small schools there is direct contact. We might swear and be rude. The kids might be too. I use the vernacular: “back off and leave the kids alone” rather than saying “it is essential as a part of the philosophy of the school blah blah blah ” I finished by saying you can expect long hours but breathe a sigh of relief that it is not a typical grey school. Then there was the statement that if you don’t think the school is cool you should probably not apply. This might also include if you think you are too cool for the school.
Anyone who comes in to work with us will have to have a bit of a personality
Another challenge is that you don’t want a non-entity. You want someone who has a personality and ideas. We want to develop those people so that they can become the leaders of the school. It is a mirroring of what we do with kids: to train kids so that they can do the work by themselves.
We were going to hire a junior school leader and have an English specialist. Then we started talking and decided that since Jason can teach English we can have a Science teacher instead. That person would develop Science for junior and subsequently senior. We would also like that person to be comfortable with IT.
The junior teacher could possibly do other subjects, say music; we can all pick up the burden of humanities.
We are focusing on the Core and not the Foundation
If you say you want your teacher to be a warm, loving human being, you might go for a macramé teacher. We are not that unconventional regarding the curriculum. We want this cat’s backbone to be a flexible Core: language, mathematics and science. The junior Clubhouse environment thrives on play, activities and projects. But teachers must be excellent with the Core.
If you do not have language in place, you can’t do any of the other subjects well.
The junior mathematics teacher should be able to work up to Year 10 level in the National Curriculum.
We are using the term junior, but in the conventional scheme of things this is 9+ to 13 which is much more like a Middle School in England and Wales. As we have often said, it is the Professional, Veteran Child stage. We think to ignore it is tragic.
This is important because of the funnel. If you only attract primary school teachers and discourage qualifying Middle School teachers you have wasted your opportunity.
Are we confident that our information encourages the right people to apply and keeps the wrong people from replying? When we went into depth about the job we did not go into detail about about some things. There is a lack of information there. For instance,The Clubhouse teacher will become the team leader. The question is what is the Clubhouse. When we have a webpage for the school the Clubhouse will be described with specific text, photos and podcasts. The same goes for other details about Freedom of Choice of Action in Democratic Community. By the time of the interview we expect the applicant will have become familiar with specifics of essentials that we will point out in the Application Pack.
1. The first simple level of our applicant funnel is:
Democratic Free School
Looks interesting but I am not qualified
Looks interesting and I am going for it
2. It is at this stage that we start to provide more information and a detailed job description. They will also get the personal letter.
How much more detail should we put in the job description?
Here there will be statements that say that there are aspects of the job that become a part of the contract of employment. A reasonable job description shows this with some specificity. We will then have the responsibility to help people through mentoring to reach the standards in that description.
There should be a general statement
What is freedom of action and authority sharing? We need to describe this in some detail and have it on the webpage.
You have to imagine people meeting the criteria and not meeting them. We aspire to have people who meet the criteria and exceed them so that they can go about co-creating the school. We have to make sure that the school is so clearly constructed that a strong-minded person can fight against the foundations and grow. We both have experience of people at Summerhill who did not fulfil the criteria. It was not good that they did not keep a clear description in their minds regarding what they should and should not do. It is problematic for everyone.
This is even more important in a new school.
You want a priority of what sticks in people’s heads, because they will not remember everything, for example:
- The letter
- The webpage: freedom and authority-sharing, the Clubhouse
There will be more but we do not want twenty. We want new teachers to be focused of a few essentials and then grow with mentoring.
See You Next Time !