Recruiting Tomorrow’s Leaders: A New Partner’s Perspective

Each year, Teach For All partners invest an enormous amount of energy into identifying their countries’ outstanding graduates and young professionals through targeted recruitment and rigorous selection. The 2013-2014 school year marked Teach For Belgium’s first recruitment and selection cycle. This September, 31 Teach For Belgium participants will begin teaching in classrooms and launch their life-long journey to improve educational opportunities for all Belgian students. The following are the reflections of Teach For Belgium’s Director of Recruitment and Selection, Christel Ergo:

At last—Teach For Belgium’s first cohort of teachers has been selected!

Although we allowed ourselves a full year for recruitment and selection, putting strong processes in place and operating within them was challenging at times. Teach For Belgium recruits teachers specifically for subject areas in which there are shortages, such as math, the sciences, and Dutch. Finding strong candidates for these subjects—especially Dutch—is difficult, and required a great deal of creativity and perseverance from our very dedicated staff. Throughout the recruitment process, we were also hard at work developing all of our selection and assessment materials. Our staff has been very busy!

When we began, Teach For Belgium was completely unknown, but we worked to establish relationships with 11 universities, many alumni associations, and several employment organizations. We participated in job fairs and conferences, organized classroom presentations, were present on many websites and Facebook pages, and sent out numerous mailings. Our efforts were rewarded by 335 applications for 30 teaching positions.

We invited approximately 150 applicants to our assessment center, where eight to ten candidates at a time spent a full day participating in selection activities, such as  mini-lessons, group projects, role play, and interviews. At the end of each day, we were able to determine which candidates embodied the qualities we believe are crucial to successfully leading a high-need classroom. Over 75% of the top candidates accepted our offer to join the program and 31 participants have begun pre-Institute training.

A new organization’s first year is never easy, but Teach For Belgium’s has been rewarding in many ways. One highlight for me has been the brilliant people I have met—from candidates (selected or not), to corporate partners, to fellow education non-profits, to Teach For All network partners—who are willing to understand and support what we do. I’ve learned so much from speaking with them and sharing our ideas and opinions, I believe it has made me a better person. Most importantly, it makes me believe that, with so many people striving to change education, Belgium’s schools will be able to achieve drastic improvement.

Our first successful recruitment and selection process was made possible thanks to the efforts of the entire Teach For Belgium team, as well as Teach For All network and partner staff, and many volunteers and other supporters in Belgium who have helped us in countless ways.  Audrey, Teach For Belgium’s Head of Training, and Norica, our Head of Placement, and their teams are now busy with the development of a very strong training program and with finding teaching placements that match our participants’ possibilities. We’re confident that the successes we have achieved this year will lay the ground work for future recruitment and selection cycles, and will enable us to expand our capacity to find outstanding participants and support them to become change agents for our country’s education.

Learn more about Teach For Belgium's first cohort of teachers on Facebook.


Spotlight on an incoming teacher:

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“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” —Confucius
To me, fighting against inequity means giving all children the opportunity to develop their skills through quality education that recognizes their individual needs. Having a positive view of what students can accomplish is essential to their development. This is what gives them confidence in themselves and allows them the freedom to make choices regardless of their capabilities or limitations. This outlook is also essential in motivating students to learn and encouraging them to work hard.
As members of the first cohort of Teach for Belgium, we face challenges ahead. First, we all want to establish a climate of trust that enables every young person in our classroom to achieve their full potential. But we also want to be agents of change by contributing to a system that is bigger than us. We know there are challenges—but what a joy to be able to work for a cause that’s important to us!
I was recently told that "Success is going from failure to failure without losing heart." Indeed, I believe that perseverance is the most important skill to pass on to a young person. With perseverance, children learn they are always able to rebound, whatever the challenges they face. It’s a valuable skill for all of us!