If Match.com can pair a couple destined to be together, could a similar site match teachers with the right school?
According to Munro Richardson and Alicia Herald, the answer is yes.
The two reformers are the founders of myEDmatch—a website launching on February 25 that will make it easier for teachers and schools to "meet their match."
How it works is simple: Educators and schools build profiles that include virtual portfolios, sample teaching (or introductory school) videos, and class curricula.
Taking this one step further, the teachers and schools are asked about their beliefs around education. This, Richardson thinks, is the glue that will hold the two parties together.
There is all this talk about teacher quality and teacher effectiveness, Richardson said in an interview, but there is one important issue that's missing from the discussion. If a teacher does not fit in with a school's "mission and culture," Richardson says, "it will not work out."
"We can't treat teachers like widgets," Richardson said. "You can't put them in any environment and expect to have the same outcome."
Recently, Eduwonk blogger Andy Rotherman also wrote about this issue. "One aspect of the school choice debate that gets surprisingly little attention," he wrote, "is that choice is good for teachers, not just for students and families."
Factors such as "fit" and "school choice" contribute to the high teacher turnover in America.
During the 2008-2009 school year, for example, 7.6 of public school teachers switched schools. It's also becoming more common for teachers to leave the profession altogether. Forty-six percent of new teachers leave the profession within five years.
Teacher attrition is costly—over $7.3 billion each year, according to The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF).
The goal of myEDmatch is not only to match teachers and schools, but to keep strong teachers in the profession.
To make this happen, myEDmatch asks teachers and schools these important questions: "What is most important to you as an educator to be successful in the classroom?" and "What does it take for a teacher to be successful within your school?"
From there, the questions are broken down into seven dimensions: mission, staff culture, professional development, instruction, planning, student culture, and school environment. Each teacher and school rates the importance of these categories, and then the two parties are given a list of potential matches.
I think we can all agree that most of the time, the most successful couples have aligning belief systems. MyEDmatch hopes to prove that this is also true for teachers and schools.
Jenny Inglee is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the Education Editor at TakePart. She has taught English in Vietnam and tutors homeless children in Los Angeles. Email Jenny | @jennyinglee | TakePart.com