Greater Impact: Teacher Talent Matters
Teacher talent matters at the high school level. When searching for a high school, look for teachers who care about students and can nurture their growth.
BY Hannah Buchholz
In the video above, LuHi Principal, David Ness, talks about the importance of filling classrooms with teachers who:
- Are experts in their field
- Have a passion for their subjects that’s easily recognizable by students
- Can relate to their students
- Care about students and can nurture their growth
One of our Core Values as a high school is hiring very talented people to teach our students. As Dan mentions in the video, we look for “Talent Whisperers.” Daniel Coyle describes Talent Whisperers in his book, The Talent Code.
[Talent whisperers] know how to identify so closely with the needs and personality of a young person that they can coach and coax them to the next level of performance; they know how to be tough and tender, cold and hot, as the need arises. They are intensely interested in the talent and in the person trying to become better in that field of human endeavor. (Coyle, Daniel, 2009)
So, how do you measure a teacher?
Can you tell a teacher is excellent based on their advanced degrees? Maybe you judge a teacher by how well their students do on ACT, SAT, AP, or other standardized tests. Or perhaps it's simpler than that.
As Dan points out, you know good teachers when you see them.
If you want to know if a teacher is excellent, relatable, and intriguing - observe them. We have a standing invitation to any parent - prospective or current - to come sit in on any class.
What does this mean for your high school search?
If observing teachers at all the schools you are considering seems overwhelming, we get that. That's where trust comes in. Choose a school administration you trust to make the right choices for your student to have the best experience in and out of the classroom.
A few ways LuHi builds trust with our families include:
- proactive check-ins with teachers and students (especially students who are struggling) throughout the year
- mid-semester surveys from students about their classroom experiences
- staff time for collaboration on engaging teaching strategies
- administration check-ins with staff for alignment on core values
Our Assistant Principal, Paul Blomenberg, shares how this plays out day to day: “We systematically check in with students, their teachers, and their parents throughout the year. Through conversations and observations, teachers notice the kids who aren’t performing at their full potential. They also can recognize those who aren’t bought into our culture and core values.
Teachers can share those names with me or someone else in the administration. We can broaden the feedback by asking other teachers for input. I can follow up with struggling kids and reach out to parents. I can share the teacher's feedback, and we can make a plan to get everyone back on the same page. The goal is a partnership - for us to work together to find the right solution for their student.”
This partnership with families adds up to an uncommon freshmen experience.
How do we find and hire highly talented teachers?
In the audio clip above, our Executive Director Dan Gehrke talks about how we define excellent teachers and then find them to hire them. As he says, it's one of the things we are most obsessed with at LuHi.
One advantage we have when it comes to hiring great teachers is the Concordia University system. Many students who earn their teaching degrees from one of the Concordia Universities around the country grew up attending Lutheran schools and have a desire to work at a Lutheran school. This built in farm system helps us find teachers who align with our beliefs in the midst of the race to get the best teachers.
At the end of the day, our administration puts in the necessary time and effort to attract and retain highly relational teachers and coaches to surround our students.
A LuHi Core Value: Highly Talented Teachers
Thinking back to your high school years, you may remember a teacher you connected with. Perhaps that teacher even impacted the field of study you went into in college and beyond.
Your student spends 8+ hours a day with the adults at their school. Once students get to high school and take part in extracurricular activities, the number goes up. Every adult your student spends significant time around is impacting your student. For better or worse, they are a role model.
We are intentional about surrounding students with teachers who connect to kids. We look for teachers to contribute to our culture. That is the example we want our students to see: a pattern of connection and contribution. We lead, they mirror.
Modeling accountability, drawing out students’ best efforts, communicating often with parents, and sharing expertise are indicators of a talent whisperer. This is what we expect out of our teachers. You should expect the same.
Originally published in 2018, updated for accuracy in 2022
Greater Impact: Why Core Values Matter
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