Matching teachers and schools using the online dating model

A teacher at DC Prep works with a student. \'Overtime this could be such a good tool for us,\' says DC Prep\'s Rick Cruz about myEDmatch.com. (Courtesy of DC Prep)

Megan Cloherty, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – It works to find love, so it could work to find a job. That’s the idea behind a new job-searching service that matches teachers with schools using online matchmaking technology.

Three D.C. charter schools have already signed up for the new matching service.

MyEDmatch.com launched two weeks ago, and so far, 3,500 teachers nationwide have signed up with the education technology start-up out of Kansas City, Mo.

Teachers sign up for free and create an online profile to brand themselves by highlighting their strengths and experience. They are prompted to outline their teaching beliefs as part of their profiles, and that helps the site match them with schools on the same educational page.

A school pays a subscription fee, allowing it to further explain its mission and needs. Then, both teachers and schools can search for their best fit.

“Teachers traditionally look for jobs in a very information-poor environment. School websites are inconsistent in terms of the quality and kinds of information that’s available. There’s no single place where teachers can go and find information about a school,” says Munro Richardson, co-founder and chief operating officer of myEDMatch.com.

Finding the right teaching environment is essential to an educator’s success, he says. One in four new teachers who has been in the classroom less than four years points to dissatisfaction with the working conditions as the number 1 reason to leave the classroom, Richardson says.

“It’s not because they don’t like teaching. It’s not because they don’t like the kids. It’s not because they don’t think they can do the work. It’s because they’re not happy with where they are at,” Richardson says of teacher attrition.

More than 600,000 teachers change schools in the U.S. every year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. It’s a problem that Richardson says the Department of Education has been desperate to solve for years and has been a focus of education policy.

Charter schools have an especially difficult time finding the right fit as they look for teachers who match not only their teaching style, but their mission, Richardson says.

In the District, the SEED school, Achievement Prep and DC Prep have signed up with myEDmatch.com. The site will save DC Prep administrators time in the interview process, says school CEO Rick Cruz.

The site allows schools to search by experience, specialization and see whether a teacher would be willing to move for a job.

“I think it’s a great tool to identify teachers outside of the local region that we might want to bring to our organization. We also think about it as, ‘Gosh is this going to be a tool for us to get poached from,'” Cruz says.

It’s easier to search for a type of restaurant you might like than a type of school that fits your teaching values. Richarsdon makes that analogy when explaining the need for the matching service — not only for teachers to find the specific job they want, but for the schools to recruit educators.

“It allows them to look through a large number of teachers in a very quick and efficient way by identifying those particular factors they’re looking for whether it’s certification, specific background or content expertise,” Richardson says.

The search function could prove helpful for teachers, especially in shrinking districts such as Washington, Richardson says. In November, D.C. Public School Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced the likely closure of 20 schools across six wards in the fall of 2013.

Though D.C. Public Schools launched a campaign in early March to recruit top talent for their classrooms, the school system had not heard of myEDmatch.com and is not considering it as a recruitment option at the time, says District spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz.

So far, 16 states are represented on myEDmatch.com, a number Richardson says will grow. No schools in Virginia or Maryland have signed up for the service yet.

Both the schools and teachers manage their profiles on myEDmatch, so Richardson says there is the possibility that they can paint the rosiest picture possible. But he says, that is just like any resume.

“Just like anyone who is on an online dating profile, you have to make your own assessment. And obviously the more honest you are, the more successful you’re going to be to be able to hire the right teachers,” Richardson says.

Objective data are posted on each school’s profile, including a school’s student achievement scores, size and average class size.

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