How to Hire, Train and Retrain Teachers Who Get Stuffs Done

teacher training
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Hiring, training and retaining teachers get better with practice, so it’s no surprise that most times, school owners make mistakes when hiring, training and retraining teachers. In my book Teach that Teacher, I wrote about teachers who are doing below the expectation of school owners and how such teachers can be trained. In this post, I will dive into how to hire, train and retrain teachers so they get stuffs done and grow your school for real.

As a reference, see Charles Burck, Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan’s Book called Execution which is about the discipline of getting things done. Larry and Ram talked about executives who get stuffs done and those who don’t – and how they contribute to the success of the organization. I will talk about how it could be applied to the education sector and how to recognize teachers who have the potential to get stuffs done.

Some of the data I use leverages on the data from my books –Teach like a Consultant – a book for learning the fruit basket model for empowering underachievers and Teach that Teacher –how to train underachieving teachers- that I wrote in May 2020, where I shared factors that contribute to students doing below their potential and teachers doing below school owners expectations respectively


How I earned the right to talk about hiring the perfect teachers

I started training teachers in August 2016 which was the first time I had a good understanding of how a teachers’ certificate can contribute to how much he can get done. I trained the teachers for three weeks in a concept called global competence which was about skills that teachers need to be able to compete favourably with peers all over the world. During the class, a large number of teachers paid attention perhaps because what I was teaching was new to them and because they took a pre-test that clearly challenged them.

I made them take the same test as a post-test and was surprised that those who had high scores where those with higher educational qualification. Some months later, precisely in January 2017, I had an opportunity to trained a different set of persons –this time they were mostly graduates in diverse fields in personal development for global competence and I saw a correlation between the post test scores and social skills – those who didn’t do well in the post test were people who are considered to have great interpersonal relationships.

I started a couple of research to find out why those teachers who were most qualified got better grades and why those graduates who were considered social had less grades. These led me to research and learn about the concept of underachievement. And i soon found Nava Butler-Por, Author of Underachievers in School: issues and intervention and learnt that emotional and motivational issues such as peer pressure contributes to people’s underachievement – that is doing less than their potential.

Underachieving Teachers have not lost their Potentials

You see, Butler-Por (1987) argues that underachievement is not caused mainly by inability to do    better   but by   either  a  conscious    or  an   unconscious     choice  and    this  suggests    that  a  typical underachiever can reverse his or her underachievement, if he chooses to. Further research shows that when people “underachieve they do so based on two factors- emotional  and motivational factors and factors concerned with strategies for learning.  Thus such a person can   be   entrusted   to   reverse   his   underachievement   using the   right   strategies   by   an informed mentor or guide.

But what does it mean for a teacher to be an underachiever? The answer is “an inability to perform in line with expectations based on the teacher’s qualification”. A teacher’s underachievement is not defined by the school owner’s expectations based on the goals the school have or the tasks assigned to the said teacher but on the teacher’s ability or potential based on his qualification and resume. Thus   training   an   underachieving   teacher   is   supposed to   equip   him   to   be   confident   and professional in line with his   qualification. 

This got me thinking and I realized that many school owners may have misdefined teachers’ underachievement and their role when they hire, train, and retrain teachers. My research into how school owners can train such teachers led me to a quality control tool called the Deming cycle or the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle for promoting continuous improvement in processes and I have since bagged a diploma in Total Quality Management.


The Survey

In a recent survey I conducted on my Teachers on a Mission facebook group, I  asked  which one of two teachers A and B could be sacked if a school had to  go through a downsizing . Teacher A has a Bachelor in education and is very good at his job, trustworthy and doesn’t stress his employer and Teacher B has Masters in Education but doesn’t do as good as expected. Over 99 percent of the respondents choose to sack Teacher B.

The Survey uncovered what school owners’ value in their employees and professionalism and trust factor was on the top of the list. Some respondents mentioned that they could retrain Teacher B which further suggests that many other factors contribute to how schools hire, train and retrain teachers. Thus any one of both teachers could have been a great choice.

Perhaps in this example, the best step is to aim to retain both teachers. But if retaining them is not applicable for many reasons such as if the school can’t afford to retain both teachers, then no law stops the school from retaining any of the teachers that contributes to her bottom-line.

Rewards promotes performance but coaching is more important

To retrain a teacher that is considered an underachiever like Teacher B, the focus should be about performance on the job. Every teacher has a qualification, yet not every teacher shows peak performance at the job- which obviously was the case with teacher B. This is obviously so, because you can have two teachers who have very similar qualification in the same schools and yet they will be at different levels of performance due to their habits.

In the book, Execution, Larry discussed how difference in bonuses, options and salary increases contributes to promoting a performance culture at Honeywell and why in order to make a lot of money, employees have to get stock options. He recounted how a seasoned professional who was good at the job but didn’t show further potential gets a large cash bonus, but a lower stock allocation and no stock grants yet another professional who has a lot of potential but didn’t do as good a job at that time gets less cash and more stock options because her potential makes her an asset to the company’s future and the stock options can motivate her for the long term.

Larry further explains that rewarding people for doing their best is how to get a performance culture but it’s not in itself enough. The most important are coaching sessions designed to help people master required behaviours. Thus rewards and coaching could be great motivating factors.

Use the Deming Cycle in retraining teachers

The Deming Cycle was proposed by W. Edwards Deming to continuously analyse and measure if results meet expectations in business processes. The Deming cycle shows what need to be changed and it is most useful for measuring results. Like they say you can’t control what you can’t measure. Also called the plan-do-act-check cycle it has four steps:

·         PLAN: Design training concept for improving the performance of the said teacher.

·         DO: Implement the concept and record results

·         CHECK: Assess the results

·         ACT: Decide on changes needed to improve the concept and Repeat the cycle.

The Deming Cycle

As you can see, the Deming cycle can help you plan out how to work on a teacher who is doing below expectations. However, it may take your time and resources. Which might be why hiring the “perfect” teacher from the beginning could be an alternative.

Hiring the perfect teacher begins with having the right Organizational Culture and having Clear Goals

The right reward system and coaching drives organizational culture and both are important for the organization’s success.  Charles, Larry and Ram assert that the culture of an organization is a reflection of the behaviour of the leaders. Thus employees that consistently deliver, deliver of their own character while those who don’t deliver are a reflection of their character and the organization’s culture because the leaders get the behaviours they exhibit and tolerate.

Hiring the perfect teacher begins with having an organizational culture that embodies result and being sure of the short term and long term goals of the school and how the said teacher fits in. The reason behind this is simple. When teachers get hired by a school, they usually conform to the behaviours the school exhibits and tolerates. So the right organizational culture and clear goals is essential. I’ve already suggested many ways that schools can embody such an organizational structure and get teachers to work in line with set goals. 

An organizational culture that not just appreciates but embodies results is important. This is the reason schools that sack Teacher B would have been right. Because organizations get behaviours they tolerate.


I understand that hiring, training and retraining teachers can be tasking. But you see, an understanding of the conditions that can influence teacher performance and how to define school owners’ expectation of their teachers can go a long way. Schools that consistently hire, train and retrain their teachers to meet their expectations foster continuous improvement that makes a lot of difference.

Underachieving teachers have potentials too even if they don’t have the right results to show for it due to emotional and motivational factors and the strategies they use in learning their crafts. For school owners looking to hire, train and retrain teachers, an understanding of underachieving teachers is essential. I also recommend the Deming cycle as it can be a useful tool for promoting continuous improvement in such teachers.

A clear understanding of the kind of teacher that qualifies as a perfect teacher is important in hiring, training and retaining teachers. An organization culture that rewards and promotes performance and embodies result is also important for attracting the perfect kind of teachers for your school. You would make a lot of difference if you put in place coaching opportunities for your teachers because  thus also goes a long way to contributing to how teachers get stuffs done and contribute to the growth of schools.  

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