In a world where people meet their future spouses at Match.com, use LinkedIn to make professional contacts, and Meetup.com to make friends when they move to new cities, a start-up has come up with a permutation for those seeking teaching positions.
myEDmatch, a new online platform, uses an algorithm to match teachers to schools that share similar cultures and values.
"It's like online dating for education jobs," the myEDmatch website states good-humoredly. (Hence the cheeky headline on this item.)
The group's idea is that "fit matters"—teachers who may be highly successful at a school emphasizing flipped-learning or project-based learning, for instance, might not be as effective in schools with other approaches.
The group's co-founder, Munro Richardson, says that the idea of fit has been largely missing from debates about teacher and teaching effectiveness. "Teachers are not widgets, and you can't assume you can put a teacher in any environment and get the same outcome," he said.
Richardson is a former vice president of education for the Kaufman Foundation. Co-founder Alicia Herald used to be an executive director at the Teach For America program. The two hatched the idea together after working in Kansas City, which has had a lot of education upheaval of late, but has not had the talent draw of cities like New Orleans, to which teachers have flocked. myEDmatch is still based in Kansas City, and the site launched Feb. 25.
Here's how it works. Schools and districts put up a profile including details on their mission, instruction, professional-development opportunities, and school culture, among other things. Then they can search profiles of teachers, who can upload such artifacts as videotapes of their teaching, lesson plans, resume, and classroom artifacts.
Herald said that the group looked at organizations, charter school networks and districts that have specific missions reflected in their hiring criteria to come up with the algorithm that matches teachers and schools. Their examination included the Knowledge is Power Program, Yes Prep, TFA's Teaching As Leadership framework, and the Dallas school district's criteria.
The site is free for teachers. Schools and districts pay an annual fee from $999 upwards depending on how many schools they want to showcase, jobs they want to post, and HR folks who have access. So far there are about 100 schools and 2,300 teachers online.
It's interesting to consider how this new platform reflects some policy shifts nationwide in how teachers are recruited and placed. Some districts, including the school system here in the District of Columbia, are using many more techniques to gain a sense of teachers' skills and values before they're hired.
And one of the goals of "mutual consent" teacher placement—a practice in which principals and teachers get to select who works in their schools, rather than being forced to take teachers assigned by HR—is to improve the fit between teacher and school culture. (With its implications for seniority-based policies, mutual consent remains controversial, particularly among teachers' unions).
Meanwhile, it's well documented that teachers often leave positions because of working conditions rather than issues with pay. And new research indicates that teacher turnover, in addition to being costly, also depresses student achievement.