Monday, August 3, 2015

Back to School



Back to School Time!!



It's that time again.  Back to school.  Only I'm not where I intended to be when I left school back in May.

Last spring, I began my search for my first Assistant Principal position.  I filled out applications.  I went to interviews, when I could get them.  I sent thank you notes and followed up and did everything I thought I should.  I was willing to relocate.  But eventually, the stack of carefully worded rejection letters (when they were even sent) started piling up on the corner of my desk.  "Thank you for your interest, but you were not selected.  We chose someone with more experience."

If this is correct, it appears there is a cycle of administrative openings that are being filled by other administrators from other districts.  It's like some mad game of musical chairs.  In spite of many job openings posted, evidence points to very few actual opportunities for anyone trying to get their foot in the door.  Okay, I get it.  I may have to leave the state for my first position, and then come back when I have experience.  Not my first choice because I love it here in Oklahoma.  But, I'll deal with that next year.  In the words of Scarlett O'Hara, "I can't think about that right now."  The kids are coming, and I'm not ready, physically or mentally.

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Today I spent my entire day at the Career Tech Summer Conference, and it helped.  I'm starting to get my mojo working again.  I'm thinking about getting a 3D printer...planning fundraisers....robotics team maybe.  I'm doing what I love.  I miss the kids.  So, maybe I have to take out more student loans if I want to continue work on my doctorate, pay my bills and help my daughter through college for the next year.  I can always try again for that elusive Assistant Principal position next year....right?  Right? Time to woman up and get ready....the kids are coming!!

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I am apparently, not the only person out there who is having challenges in the job market.  CASE IN POINT--

I stopped by the hardware store this afternoon on my way home to pick up a few things for some last-minute home repairs while I still have a few days of summer.  Checking out and I see a young man walk into the store and ask the manager if they were hiring.  The young man was carrying a skateboard.  He was dirty, wearing dirty clothes, ripped pants and didn't even bother to turn his hat around the proper way, much less take it off.  Oh, and he brought along his greasy-haired tattoo-and-muscle-shirted sidekick for moral support.
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Needless to say, he was told no.  

We are always told "don't judge a book by it's cover."  I have students tell me every day "I hate people who judge me before they ever even know me."  I love all my student, and have a special place in my hard for the students who come to school dirty, hungry and poorly dressed.  I want to provide those kids with a safe haven, if only from 8:30-3:30, where they know they will be fed, they will have running water and air conditioning, and someone will care enough about them to make them take off that dang hat!  But here's a cold water dash of reality.  We as educators need to make our students aware that outside of our cloistered walls of public schooling, they are being judged, and being judged hard.

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I teach a career teach class, but perhaps I am spending far too much time trying to interest students in exciting careers, and not enough time on the basics of what to do to actually get that job once they decide on it.

1.  Be clean.  Even if you are homeless, you can wash up in a Quik Trip sink on your way to ask for a job.  

2.  Dress as nicely as you possibly can.  If old, worn jeans are the best you have, wear those, but wear your absolute best, cleanest clothes.  Spit out your gum, take off your hat, and look the nice manager in the eye.  Introduce yourself and shake their hand.  Wanting to impress someone to get a job is not the same thing as being a sell out.  There are lots of poor, unemployed people out there who are very firm about not "kissing up to the man."  I appreciate the conviction, but I'm afraid you can't buy groceries with it.

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I think it might me a good idea to actually spend a little time this year showing my students how to apply for a job.  Lord knows I have had enough experience this past year.  Hmm...maybe I am more ready for back to school than I think I am.
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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Keep Moving Forward

I have spent the past year searching.  A long time.  A year.

I have spent the past 12 years as a classroom teacher, and a few years ago, I decided that it was time for me to make the leap to administration.  I love kids.  I love teaching.  But I also love the thought of helping to set a school culture and helping teachers and guiding kids and impacting lives that you can sometimes only do from the main office.  I didn't make this decision lightly, and I didn't make this decision because I am burned out in the classroom.  Far from it.  I think I have just hit my stride.  Good time for a change.

As I finish my internship process and start to go on interviews for Assistant Principal positions, I have discovered something that was surprising to me.  It doesn't feel like I'm looking for a job.  It feels like I am looking for a family.  Like the character from one of my favorite movies, I have been on quite a few "adoption" interviews.




And like the character from the movie, I have gotten a lot of rejection letters.  And emails.  And phone calls.  For some reason, I haven't found a position yet.  It's a lot of work, on top of my current teaching duties, my internship and my full time grad school classes.



Yet, with every interview I get, I learn something.  I get to meet new people.  I'm making contacts that, regardless of whether I actually get a position in that district, will be valuable down the road.  I'm enjoying the process, and trying not to get too stressed about whether or not I will or will not find a position for next year.



With every interview, I try to put as much of myself in the interview as possible.  Yes, I know that flies against traditional wisdom.  You want the interviewer to project what they are looking for onto you, and like you so they will give you the job.



But it occurred to me that somewhere out there is a Principal who is already looking for someone just like me.  They are looking for someone who is enthusiastic and ready to do just about anything to be a positive impact on the lives of the kids.  Someone is looking for an Assistant Principal who's first thought is not "suspension" but support.  Somewhere out there is a school that is looking for a positive new member for their family.



Now all I have to do is find them....and keep moving forward.