Everyone remembers that one teacher—the one that left such a distinct impression that you actually started to call English your favorite class even when you’ve always been a “math” person. To paraphrase BASIS Independent Brooklyn French Subject Expert Teacher Mr. Mandeville, at BASIS Independent Schools, all teachers are that one teacher—each one forges a true connection between their students and the lessons being taught, instilling in them an avid love for their subject. Good luck asking one of our students what their favorite class is. They either tell you, enthusiastically, “all of them!” or, “it changes each year!”
Our blog posts focus on a variety of school-related topics—the student or parent experience, teacher interviews from a pedagogical perspective, or events and stories from around campus. We thought we’d flip the script for this one and shed some light on what it’s like to work here and what we look for in the hiring process.
We’re always looking to build up our talent pool of people and professionals interested in employment with our program whether there is an immediate opening or not. If you know anyone who is seeking a change or may be down the line, please encourage them to join our talent community and explore current opportunities across BASIS Independent Schools.
What do we look for in a teacher or an administrator?
From math teachers in primary school to performing arts teachers in middle school, we look for evidence that potential teachers have subject expertise in their field. This allows them to teach high-level content knowledge and application in novel and challenging ways to best fuel critical, creative thinking. When it comes to Learning Expert Teachers, their expertise is not necessarily focused on a particular subject, rather in pedagogy and/or early childhood education. It is also common for many of our teachers to have a master’s degree (or higher) in their discipline.
Ideal candidates embrace our philosophy that kids can do more. They are excited about raising academic standards to the highest international levels in a joyful learning environment. We look for a passion for teaching and the ability to take difficult, advanced information and break it down in a developmentally appropriate way for students to grasp. BASIS Independent teachers are the reason our students are learning successfully at an accelerated pace—they create access points for students to relate to the content matter and form a classroom environment where students feel comfortable taking risks. The element of trust between our students and teachers is crucial to student achievement and happiness.
When it comes to administration positions, we’re looking for individuals that are driven and motivated by impact. They want to take on a role where they feel they can help harness the energy of a school for good, and have a lasting impact and effect on students and teachers alike. The best administrators don’t rest on their laurels. They inspire, motivate, and guide teachers and students to be the best they can be. Service-oriented and eager to bear responsibility, they’re the biggest champions of teachers and students, and they look over our school community to ensure every member has a positive experience.
How does BASIS Independent Schools select teachers?
We employ a unique approach to teacher hiring that puts the student front and center. After extensive, selective interviewing, final candidates are invited to teach a demo lesson in front of a group of our students at our Teacher Demo Days. Our Heads of School assemble classes of students, and candidates get to show their stuff—they are encouraged to challenge students, prove their subject expertise, and demonstrate their ability to communicate high-level subject matter to a full class.
We assess a candidate’s “fit” through student engagement. Even as young as kindergarten, these students can indicate to us whether they were able to understand what was being taught or if a teacher was successful in getting them excited about a topic. Our students know their feedback weighs heavily in our decisions and take their job seriously!
This format allows us to ensure only the top individuals are chosen to lead our classrooms and to determine whether they are suited for our high-energy, high-performing school environment.
What professional development is available for teachers and staff?
Many schools have to bring in outside talent in order to train their teachers; at BASIS Independent Schools, we procure this talent from within our own network, and, of course, do what we can to support teachers in pursuit of external training and growth opportunities. We have been able to produce a shared curriculum to use as an essential resource, from which teachers can access activities that have been perfected by other teachers across the network, assessment tools they can incorporate into their own best practices, testing tools, and more. The lines of communication are always open within our network and support avenues, ensuring that teachers have everything they need to succeed, while allowing them the freedom and autonomy to develop their lessons according to their passions.
There is plenty of room for career growth: we offer teacher training during the summers and other training programs that provide opportunities for teachers to become Subject Advisors (mentor teachers sprinkled throughout our schools) or aim for full-time positions. Our trainings provide teachers with the opportunity to learn how other educators are teaching, to harness those best practices and, in turn, share with the rest of the community. This allows teachers new to the field (or even veteran teachers) to learn from some of the best in the world.
In addition to our own trainings, BASIS Independent teachers are given opportunities to participate in conferences which highlight their interests. Some of our teachers have been greatly inspired at these events, and have even developed proposals to share their own ideas with the larger teaching community.
One of our Heads of School has stated: “We keep an open door policy with our teachers when it comes to professional development. Much like we put students in the driver’s seat of their own education, we welcome teachers to come forth with ideas for furthering their training and classroom management expertise. We've sponsored teachers to go to conferences around the country and take classes right here in New York City."
We also spoke with Senior Director of School Services, Ms. Pierce, who says, “We hire teachers who would be amazing in any teaching environment. But they choose us and stay with us because they know they are a part of a group of people who are going to stretch them professionally. Even the best teachers have the ability to grow here—they see what others can accomplish in the classroom and are inspired to map out a path for their own students to reach that high potential.”
What’s the work culture like?
“You meet and work alongside some of the most interesting people, and it makes you want to come to work every day,” says Ms. Pierce.
BASIS Independent Schools attract people who have an exceptional work ethic. This common characteristic creates a palpable energy in our offices, classrooms, and hallways, and our community thrives off of it. It fuels individuals in all roles to want to do more and to grow more. Most importantly, it allows people to connect; they bond, collaborate, and excel together. Our work culture is one where colleagues are friends and mentors, where they are surrounded by people they relate to and want to spend time with.
In the classroom, we also empower our teachers to provide instruction and assess learning in the ways that fit their passions and their students’ needs. By allowing this autonomy and flexibility, teachers are able to explore different applications of knowledge and can better foster creativity and support, truly making the classroom their own.
“I love working at a school where everyone is striving to be better than we were the day before,” says Ms. Korik, Director of Student Affairs for Early Learning at BASIS Independent McLean. “With high expectations for ourselves as educators comes high expectations for our students. We work together, pushing ourselves and our students to be the best we can be. I also am proud that no two classrooms are identical. Our teachers’ instruction differs based on their students’ unique needs and their own diverse backgrounds as educators. Their instructional style and interactions with students reflect the understanding that we are all individuals with our own strengths.”
So, is it really any different teaching here than at another school?
We asked one of our own—Ms. Wendel, Math and Psychology Subject Expert Teacher at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley to weigh in on the question:
“Here, the main focus is on the students, and we teach students how to be responsible for their own learning. Especially in the modern world, it is important that students are self-confident, curious, and open-minded when they approach new tasks. Once our students become motivated, insightful, and enthusiastic thinkers, we consider ourselves successful teachers. Furthermore, BASIS Independent Schools offers an amazing network of like-minded professionals. The collaborative environment is the best I have ever experienced. Teachers here work closely together within their own school but also across different schools and even different continents, sharing best practice material and helping each other become the best in what we do.”
What about administration? What makes an admin role unique?
Mr. Francher, Director of Academic Programs at BASIS Independent Fremont, offers an answer to this question: “Working as an administrator for BASIS Independent Schools is a very rewarding and challenging experience. We are given far more freedom to make the job our own than any other school system I have seen. We are also given the opportunity to explore new avenues for conquering old problems as we fine tune our processes each year.”
On being asked the best part of his job, he says, “Working with a team of individuals that I trust. Being surrounded by such amazing individuals makes tackling any problems that come up manageable, and makes each successful year that much better.”
Want to stay in touch about opportunities to join our staff and faculty, or know someone who would be a great fit? Visit our careers website today!