School evolutionary situation and staffing


Mal Lee

A significant issue with staffing is beginning to emerge as the schools at the networked evolutionary stage and beyond employ new staff, teaching and professional support.

The culture, the ecology, the mindset, the expectations of staff in those schools is markedly different to that experienced in the traditional paper based school and as such the selection expectations of the pathfinders are significantly different and of an appreciably higher order than those of the lower order schools.

If one examines the attributes of the schools at the networked, and digital normalisation evolutionary stages and notes their ever-evolving nature, their ever-tighter integration, the networked mindset and 24/7/365 collaboration with their families and community and the imperative of all within the school’s community – the principal, the staff, the parents – having a macro appreciation of the school’s shaping educational vision it should come as no surprise to see the school leadership, and the teacher and parent representatives on the staff selection panels, expecting new staff – teaching and support – to have the apposite understanding and skill set.

It is important to note the expectation comes from both the professional staff and the school community representatives.

It is an understanding and skill set acquired in the main within the pathfinder culture that exists in its entirety in as yet few other schools, but which can increasingly be found within pockets in later adopter schools.

What the pathfinders are finding is that staff that have worked in a temporary capacity in the higher order culture, who are aware of its ecology, have the desired mind and skill set and are applying for a permanent position are advantageously positioned compared to most other applicants, even potentially very capable applicants, currently working within the traditional insular, paper based paradigm.

The pathfinders require teachers and professional support staff able to thrive in an ever-evolving digital and networked environment, who are of a mind and have the skills to contribute to the school’s holistic enhancement. Naturally they don’t want staff in permanent positions that have yet to demonstrate their capacity to make that contribution.

It is appreciated that while today this is a rare situation it is an issue that is set to grow quickly as ever more schools globally move along the evolutionary continuum.

The challenge for the pathfinder schools and those following is to be aware of the situation as they look to appoint apposite new staff and while not for a moment suggesting punishing those applicants who have the advantage of working in higher order school ecologies to be very conscious of potentially excellent staff that have demonstrated their capacity to make a significant contribution to a digitally based school, even though they might be working within a paper based school or coming directly from teacher education.

It is moreover a development that affirms the wisdom of the global moves to accord individual schools greater decision-making and the importance of education authorities and governments better understanding the growing variability between schools, and the implications that flow.