Education competencies for teachers and school leaders
These education competencies represent many of the attributes, behaviors, areas of knowledge, skills, and abilities required for successful job performance in education. Schools and districts around the country are using these tools in a variety of ways.
Overview: Who uses competencies and why
The Education Competencies are designed to help educators and administrators develop professional skills and proficiencies. They can also be used to help school districts and other educational organizations find the right job candidates to fill key jobs. The interview information on the How to use tab helps people hiring but is also a good tool for professionals to use to identify areas of improvement.
Each Education Competency includes a definition, four levels of proficiency, sample interview questions, activities and resources to develop skills, and examples of overdoing the competency.
Certain roles have greater dependencies on specific competencies. The success profiles show the competencies valuable in different job roles.
Start using the Education Competencies
The Education Competencies represent many of the attributes, behaviors, areas of knowledge, skills, and abilities required for successful job performance. Each Education Competency includes a definition, four levels of proficiency, sample interview questions, activities and resources to develop skills, and examples of overdoing the competency.
The Education Competency Wheel has been in use by educators since 2006. It was created by leadership and talent consulting experts at Lominger and adapted for education. Schools and districts around the country are using this tool in a variety of ways. If you are interested in learning more about the Education Competency Wheel please consider attending the Microsoft Institute.
- Building effective teams
- Customer focus
- Integrity and trust
- Interpersonal skills
- Managing relationships
- Managing vision and purpose
- Motivating others
- Personal learning and development
- Valuing diversity
- Developing others
- Directing others
- Managing and measuring work
- Managing through processes and systems
- Priority setting
- Time management
- Timely decision making
Success profiles overview
The Education Competencies define many of the attributes, behaviors, areas of knowledge, skills, and abilities that will lead to superior job performance and professional growth in the education field.
Not all competencies are relevant for every job. Certain roles require an emphasis on specific competencies. For each of the following four positions, a profile has been developed that identifies the critical competencies required for success in this position. Use these profiles when considering potential candidates and when conducting interviews.
This profile defines the critical competencies a successful regional superintendent in the 21st century should possess.
This profile defines the critical competencies a successful principal in the 21st century should possess.
High school teacher
This profile defines the critical competencies a successful high school teacher in the 21st century should possess.
Primary and middle school teacher
This profile defines the critical competencies a primary and middle school teacher in the 21st century should possess.
High school student
This profile defines the critical competencies a successful high school student in the 21st century should possess.
This profile defines the critical competencies a successful college/university professor in the 21st century should possess.
This profile defines the critical competencies a successful teaching assistant in the 21st century should possess.
This profile defines the critical competencies a successful college student in the 21st century should possess.
Using the education competencies
Great leaders define, shape, and inspire the human experience. In a world of ideas, we are adrift without the leaders who realize them. For this reason, effective leadership is critical to the success of any organization. With each new student, new partner, new parent, new hire, you have an opportunity to help your school district achieve greater success. That responsibility can be overwhelming if you approach it haphazardly.
With preparation and planning, you can focus your efforts and make decisions that add to the long-term health and success of your school district. If you are an administrator, teacher, student, or parent, you can use the Education Competencies to define a job profile, assess candidate competence, and plan for personal and professional growth.
Define success with competencies
Competencies describe the functional and behavioral qualities that an individual must possess in order to help an organization achieve success. Each role in an organization requires a different emphasis or mix of competencies. Microsoft worked with Lominger, a leadership development firm, to develop the Education Competencies.
Several years ago, Lominger developed Microsoft's own set of competencies that helped Microsoft managers and employees build a successful organization. The competencies provided Microsoft with a common framework for hiring and professional development that can be described, discussed, and implemented with precision across a global company.
Success in education
Like the Microsoft competencies, the Education Competencies describe the full range of characteristics needed to help a school district achieve its organizational goals and vision. They were developed in partnership between Microsoft, Lominger, and school leaders from around the world.
At the core of the Education Competencies are six qualities that individuals need in order to help school districts succeed in the 21st century. These qualities, or success factors, are:
- Individual excellence: Ability to achieve results by working effectively with others in various circumstances.
- Organizational skills: Ability to communicate by various means within different organizational settings.
- Courage: Ability to speak directly, honestly, and with respect in difficult situations.
- Results: An emphasis on goal-oriented action.
- Strategic skills: An array of skills used to accomplish focused, longer-term goals.
- Operating skills: An array of skills used for daily management of tasks and relationships.
These six success factors form the organizing principle for the Education Competency Wheel, a visual depiction of the 37 Education Competencies. The success factors make up the inner wheel and are defined by associated competencies.
For example, the success factor Courage is defined by the competencies: Managerial courage, Assessing talent, and Conflict resolution. Those three competencies describe the attributes, skills, behaviors, and knowledge individuals need to develop and exhibit Courage, a vital factor for individual and organizational success.
Make hiring decisions with the Education Competencies
You can use the Education Competencies to define a job profile, structure an interview process, and assess candidate qualities. Use the following process to design and execute a plan for hiring that next great school district employee.
1. Create a Success Profile that defines the open position.
A successful hiring process starts with the goal in mind—a clear description of the job responsibilities and the unique mix of competencies required for success. A Success Profile goes beyond the usual scope of a job description.
In a job description, a supervisor usually lists the tasks to be performed in a role. A Success Profile, however, describes not only the tasks, but how those tasks will be accomplished, including the personal qualities, skills, behaviors, attitudes, and knowledge required for success in the role.
There are Success Profiles that describe the job responsibilities and competencies for four typical roles within a school district. If you are hiring for one of these four roles, you may need to customize the job responsibilities section or adjust the mix of competencies to assure greater success within your unique school setting.
If you are hiring for a role that is not listed, use these Success Profiles as models for designing a new one that lists the unique job responsibilities and competencies required for that role.
A clearly defined Success Profile allows you to communicate the requirements for the position to potential candidates, recruiters, and people involved in the hiring process.
2. Create an interview loop and communicate the Success Profile to people involved in the hiring process.
Now that you have identified the unique blend of competencies required by a candidate to successfully perform in the position, you can use those competencies to structure an interview process, also known as an interview loop.
Follow these steps to create an effective interview loop:
1. Identify the mix of perspectives needed.
The interview loop consists of several people (usually 3-7) who have unique perspectives related to the position for which a candidate is being interviewed. For example, if you are hiring for a high school teacher position, you might include in the loop teachers from other disciplines or levels, a student, a parent, and an administrator.
It's usually best to form an interview loop to interview all candidates for a given position. That way you have the same pool of evaluators assessing each candidate with common criteria.
2. Assign each interviewer one or more competencies on which to assess the candidate.
When you make these assignments, consider the interviewer's experience with and understanding of each competency. For example, you might have a school administrator, rather than a student, assess a candidate for the Strategic agility and innovation competency. On the other hand, a student might be the perfect person on the loop to consider the candidate's Listening competency.
3. Create the schedule for the interview loop.
Now that you have identified the people involved in the hiring process and assigned each of them competencies to assess, you can schedule interview times. Coordinate with each person on the loop to set up a time that he or she can meet with the candidate.
Once you have created the interview schedule, you can manage the interview process throughout the day. You can share the schedule with the recruiter or other individuals in the loop in case you are unavailable to oversee the process at some point during the day.
3. Interview candidates, determine their match with the Success Profile, and provide feedback to successfully complete the hiring process.
Before meeting with a candidate, review the Success Profile for the role and the competencies that you are assigned.
Understand the job responsibilities associated with the role.
Make sure you understand the definition and proficiency levels (basic, intermediate, advanced, or expert) of the competencies you are assigned to evaluate. The proficiency level descriptions provide details that can help you assess how well a candidate displays a competency. Determine which level of proficiency is appropriate for the open position before the interviews begin.
Each competency has several interview questions that you can ask a candidate during an interview. You can ask those questions as written, or modify them to make for a more conversational tone during the interview. The answers to the questions provide useful examples and insight into the candidate’s level of proficiency related to that competency.
After the interview, take five or ten minutes to reflect on the merits of the candidate. Describe your overall impression of the candidate, his or her qualifications related to the job responsibilities, and your specific insights as to how well they exhibit the competencies you probed.
Each interviewer should email an assessment of the candidate to all the other loop members immediately following the post-interview reflection. That way everyone on the loop stays informed about the progress of the candidate.
In the subject line of the email, summarize your assessment with an up or down vote of "hire" or "no hire." In the body of the email you can provide a detailed assessment based on your observations of the candidate.
4. Keep the big picture in mind.
As you consider a candidate for hire, think school district first, open position second. This might seem counterintuitive. Why consider anything other than the requirements of the current available position In today's employment market, people tend to change jobs every two to three years. If you look for candidate qualities that succeed in the school district, as opposed to just the position, the likelihood that the candidate would be able to develop their career within the organization is improved. Over time, that candidate adds more value to the organization by growing within it; maximizing recruitment costs, while decreasing attrition costs.
By focusing your interview session on questions and considerations drawn from the core competencies, you can evaluate the candidate against criteria that leads to success beyond any single role. Successful candidates can use the competencies to grow within and beyond their jobs over a period of time. The Education Competencies provide assessment critical to personal and professional development.
Create a development plan with the Education Competencies
Whether you are new to your job or are a long-time school district employee, you can use the competencies to create a personal and professional development plan. Even as a parent or a student, you become more valuable when you know your capabilities and how they can be used to help solve problems and better serve others.
The Education Competencies can help you identify skills and behaviors you use, or could use more effectively, to get results.
1. Assess your current situation.
Locate a Success Profile that defines your role or function within the school district, such as teacher or administrator. If one doesn't exist for your role, work with your supervisor to create one. Describe your primary job responsibilities, core competencies for your role, and the suggested proficiency level for each competency.
Assess your current proficiency level for each core competency.
Compare your current proficiency levels with the suggested proficiency level for each competency. The difference between your actual proficiency level and the suggested proficiency level is called the "gap." This gap analysis provides you with information about which competencies you currently express well, and which ones you could develop further.
2. Determine how you want to grow.
Are you interested in improving your performance in your current role Or do you want to move into another role Perhaps you'd like a promotion into school administration, or perhaps a lateral move into another teaching role. Once you identify some options for how you want to direct your career, take the next step.
Grow in your current role. The gap analysis you conducted in step 1 should provide you with information about skills, behaviors, and knowledge that you already possess and express well, and those that you could improve in order to get better results in your current role. Continue to step 3.
Move up or laterally. If you decided that you want to prepare yourself to change your role within the school district, the next step is to perform a gap analysis between the Success Profiles for your current role and the role to which you would like to move.
Identify any overlap in job responsibilities and core competencies. The more overlap that exists, the more likely it is that you are already functioning within the scope of the job you desire. If there are similar competencies, check to see if the suggested proficiency levels are the same.
3. Create a development plan.
Identify the gaps between your current competencies and suggested competencies. If you are considering a new role, you will probably have new competencies to consider as well. Self-assess your current proficiency levels for the new competencies and compare them to the suggested proficiency levels for the new competencies.
For any gaps you notice between current and suggested proficiency levels, devise a strategy to gain the needed experience and skills. Use the development resources to create a plan that identifies developmental activities that you can pursue to develop your competencies and close the gap between your current and suggested proficiencies.