The Search is On
So you blew the Praxis out of the water, your Master’s degree is hanging on the wall and you are fired up about getting a job that will actually allow you to pay back some of those student loans. Well let me start there. Just as teaching is not exactly a get rich quick plan, neither is administration. Remember you will no longer have your summers free to earn that extra cash, nor will you be able to sneak off to the beach for a couple of well deserved recuperative weeks. Assuming that you have now read the disclaimer for being a school administrator and still want to be one, we will continue.
Irons in the fire:
This is the stage at which you have decided to put your resume in the hands of potential employers. Before I delve into this, let me say that it is generally good practice to keep a current resume ready and available. The deadline for accepting resumes is always the day after you hear about it.
When searching for an administrative job you need to be more selective than you were when applying for teaching positions. When in search of a job, teachers often apply for anything within the allotted driving distance. This approach is frowned upon in the administrative circuit. You should be looking for a school that is a good match for you and your leadership style. For example: if you don’t have a lick of artistic talent then you may want to avoid the Fine Arts School for the Gifted. Administrative resumes usually make it to the district level and a shot-gun approach at a job search will quickly be recognized and interpreted as desperate.
So, you saw an ad on Career Builder that fits into your five-year plan of Educational Leadership advancement. What is the next step? Apply for it immediately. When you begin hiring staff for yourself, you will notice the great care you take with the first forty resumes or so and how your diligent attention to their detail will fade after you find a few decent candidates. The early resume gets the job. Your resume is now in the hands of your potential boss. Now it is research time. Become an expert on the institution for which you hope to work. Do you know last year’s test scores? What is the school’s mission statement? Do you have any friends from college that work there; will they put in a good word for you?
You Landed An Interview:
There are a few questions essential to ask during an interview for a leadership position, questions you may not have thought about. The answer to these questions may affect your view of the position. The first and most important question: Why is the position available? This is code for, “Did the last guy get canned and if so, why?" Another important question is, “if offered the position who will I report to? If the answer is more than one person, be very cautious. Ancient fortune cookie reads, “One body can not answer to two heads."
You’ve Been Offered the Job:
Here’s a good question if offered the job: “Did the team of teachers who interviewed me, choose me?" If the administration went against the recommendations of the interviewing faculty / staff and offered you the position anyway, your next year as their boss could kill you.
Another situation that could bring you to an early retirement is skipping the interview process altogether and being appointed to a position in which the last guy was loved by everyone - except the superintendent. If you take that job, do it with the utmost humility. I cannot underscore that enough. You will never fill that last guy's shoes; accept it and let your new staff know that you understand their disappointment in losing such a great leader. And, you may only hope to do as good a job.
Making a Smooth Transition
As you will soon learn there are a few things that do not get into the leadership text books, and only experience will teach you these things. I have gathered several truths in the past 13 years that may help you as you start a new position. You may scoff at the fact that, in addition to educational leadership experience, I will also draw upon my wealth of coaching experience. Don’t forget that your staff is your team and you are now or will soon be their coach.