Random Thoughts

Risk takers and podcasts

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

SOSWe had a great conversation last Thursday night on the Shifting Our Schools (SOS) podcast. We ran about an hour and one thing I love about running my own podcast is I get to determine the length. As long as the conversation is good…let audacity roll! 🙂

At one point in the show we start talking about teachers and what we (as technology people who are helping to embed technology into the regular classroom) want to see. We talk about teachers who are willing to learn and banter that around for awhile until we land on this:

“We don’t want teachers as learners, we want teachers as risk takers!”

If you listen to the podcast you’ll know when I say it because there is a long pause as we all let that sink in. But it’s true, as a teacher, as an administrator I want risk takers.

What if we change the interview question from:

Do you consider yourself a life long learner? (A question I’ve been asked in every interview)


Are you a professional risk taker?

Give me an example of a professional risk you took last year?

What did you learn from this risk? What would your students say?

Do you believe it’s OK to fail?

Either way it was a great conversation around what types of teacher we have access to as integrators. We all agreed it was teachers who are willing to take that professional risk and invite you into the classroom that have the most success.

On another podcasting note and while we’re on the topic of risk taking. Dereck Rhoads left a comment the other day on what has become my most popular post to date about Interview questions for International School Job Fairs. While recruiting Dereck used some of the questions that I put forth in the post, changed them, adapted them to fit his needs and used them while recruiting.

But Dereck didn’t stop there. He recorded an interview with a teacher candidate and then posted it to his blog to share with the rest of us.

This has me thinking on so many different levels:

  • How does this change the interview process? Specifically for international educators where distance and costs are a factor?
  • What insight does a candidate now have not only on the questions that Dereck is most likely to ask, but also in getting a feel for what Dereck and his school are looking for in teacher candidates? We international teachers know it is all about the “fit”, about feeling that connection with those in the interview process.
  • How does this change the recruiting process, when you can go back to an interview and listen to the questions and answers and get a feel for a teacher candidate from almost a “fly on the wall” point of view?
  • How does this change the recruiting process for the candidate? Being able to go back and listen to your answers to questions?

What if every interview ended with the administrator handing you a mp3 file of the interview. I think that would be fair. You go into an interview, are asked if it is OK to record the interview, and both parties leave with the recording. Benefiting both the teacher candidate and the administrator in allowing them to further reflect on the interview.


This is just the beginning of what I foresee as a new way of recruiting teachers. International recruiting services better stand up and take notice of what’s happening here. The old recruiting fair model, in my opinion, is on its way out. Like other industries, either find a way to adapt and stay in the game, or be prepared to be asking the question “What happened?”

[tags]interview questions, international education[/tags]

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Your post has really made me think about what I may be expecting when I am finished my education degree in two years. The idea of having an interview recorded would be so helpful. Having the opportunity to listen to the interview while I am reflecting on how the interview went would help with subsequent interviews.

  2. Jeff … I am an independent leadership development consultant working with the Hsinchu International School in Hsinchu, Taiwan. One of the things I have been working with the administration here on is developing what is known as a “Structured Interview Process” which helps interviewers stay focused on what is really important to them and not get as distracted by trivial or outside stimuli. This type of interviewing, which often includes video taping the interview, is by no means new to education. It has been been around for years … particularly in private schools.

    Research has shown two very important considerations in terms of interview and selecting the appropriate candidate – regardless of the field:

    1. Interviewers too often rely on their “gut”, their feeling about a candidate – which has proven to be a poor predictor of success.

    2. The best predictor of future success is past success.

    So how is this accomplished? When down right, interview questions should be established using a Backwards Design process which begins by interviewing you most successful teachers to find out what makes them stand out from the others, designing a set of questions (along with corresponding rubrics) setting up the interview sessions (typically three separate sessions if possible) so a to minimize distractions and, when possible, taping the interview. The purpose of taping is not only to be able to review the tape again if desired for more information or to get a second “feel” for the candidate – but more importantly, these recording are an excellent way to assess both the reliability and validity of your interviewers and the interview process.

  3. Do you consider yourself a life long learner? (A question I’ve been asked in every interview)
    I would hope I never stop learning. When you stop learning you become stagnant and I think that is true of anyone not just teachers.

    Are you a professional risk taker? I feel that I am becoming one. I recently wrote a post on my blog “I Found My Teacher Voice.” As I mingle on the net with more like minded people, I feel more confident in my values and beliefs.

    Give me an example of a professional risk you took last year? I retired from the K-12 classroom in order to teach on the college level and to do more traveling.

    What did you learn from this risk? What would your students say? I learned that there are a lot of things (issues and tools) that the classroom teacher needs to know but doesn’t. I would hope my students would say that they want to use me as a resource as I learn these things.

    Do you believe it’s OK to fail? Most definitely as long as you learn why you failed, and you try again to succeed. For many years I have tried to teach my students that “an error is not a terror.” It is when you don’t try that you don’t succeed.

  4. In my education class at Illinois State University we read the book Chalkbored by Jeremy Schneider and I think this book would be of interest to you. For a few days in class we went over his ideas of how to bring technology into the classroom. I believe he would agree with your quote, “We don’t want teachers as learners, we want teachers as risk takers!” He believes that students are bored in the classroom because they do not engage in activites in the classroom that they do at home. Students at home blog and play on “you tube” however in school, they are expected to leave their technology at home.

    I think that your interview questions are very thought provoking and interesting. Since I am still in school, I have no idea what the interview process is for teachers. I will surely think of answers to these questions before I become a teacher. I hope to be that teacher that takes risks in the educational system.

  5. I’m a great believer in taking risks and encouraging risk learning – in fact, that’s how I learn best – but I’ve also recently realised that we need to also send the message to educators that it’s ok to make mistakes or ‘fail’.

    As professionals, educators are often expected to be ‘perfect’.

    How many times have you heard: “You’re a teacher, you should know that”…

    To become the educator you’ve always dreamt of being:

    It’s OK to:

    Take risks
    Make mistakes
    Evaluate and share your mistakes

    Allison Miller
    Adelaide, South Australia

Write A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.