About Me

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I've been an educator since 1995 where I've served as both a teacher and administrator. I believe that serving others is the key to success and make it my goal to be a servant leader for students, teachers, parents, and the community. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Interviews-from the other side

All summer long, I've been interviewing for administrative positions.  Now that I have accepted a position, I get to be on the other side of the table.  Yesterday, I participated in two interviews for teaching positions at my new campus.  It was different being the interviewer.  For one thing, the pressure was off (in a way).  It was more relaxing simply asking and listening.  However, at the same time, there was the pressure to ensure that the right person was hired.  I also noticed that, inside, I was rooting for the person to do well.  During my time in the "hot seat," I got that same impression from my interviewers.  Yesterday, I hope that the candidates could tell that I wanted them to succeed.  

Looking at candidates from an administrative perspective allows for a different viewpoint.  Just as those who interviewed me had to predict my future success for their district, I had to do the same thing.  One of my mantras is that if the best are hired up front, it will mean much less work on my part in the future and much less frustration for the recruit.  In addition, it's important to determine if the candidate is "highly qualified" based on NCLB requirements.  If not, they will have to jump through a few hoops to get that qualification, which, in turn means more work ensuring that this occurs.  

I am realizing that there is an art and a science to the interview. Picking the best candidates based on just a few points (interview, paperwork, references, portfolio) is not a simple process. I also realize that the results of the interview could be either extraordinary or detrimental to the school.  This is not a task to be taken lightly.  

Ultimately, outside of ability, which is important, I am looking for someone who cares deeply about kids and is determined to do whatever is necessary to ensure their success.  If this quality is present, then many other deficiencies can be overcome.  Without it, there is little hope for success. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

After 2000 miles and 7 interviews

As the title says, I've traveled over 2000 miles this summer and been through 7 interviews.  Each one was a growth process for me and helped to clarify my leadership style as well as my commitment to this profession and being a leader in it.  Now, after all that, I've been offered a position within 10 miles of my front door in my own school district.  Would I trade the time I spent filling out applications, updating my résumé, rewriting my cover letters, traveling, and spending time in the hot seat during interviews?  Not in a million years.  

I related to my wife recently that for most of my previous interviews (for teaching positions) the process has been very straightforward.  In most cases, the interview was a formality as my qualifications and experience were more than what was expected for the position.  This was different.  Districts have to know that their leaders are going to be able to do the job and bring the school forward from where it is now.  I don't have the track record, just the qualifications. Therefore, the interview process has been both challenging and refreshing.  I've learned something new at each interview and, through reflection, been able to identify areas of weakness that I need to improve in.  In fact, I think it would be helpful to have an interview every week just to stay focused on improvement.  I can do that through reflective questioning on a weekly basis and use my responses as a tool for improvement. 

Now that I am moving into this new position, the time for working and showing what I am made of is here.  Yes, I still need lots of work.  That will never change.  But, each day, I must show consistent growth until I become the  very best I can be at this position and am able to move up.  Constant improvement is the goal.  I am up to the challenge.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

2nd Interviews

2nd interview #1 is over.  I didn't get the position, but the experience was priceless.  It is honor to sit in the presence of fellow educators and be able to speak openly with them.  #2 is supposed to be tomorrow.  However, in the meantime, an opportunity has opened closer to home and it looks promising.  So now I have a dilemma.  Do I focus my time on the one closer to home or do I o ahead with tomorrow's interview knowing that I probably won't take it?  Tough choices. 

During this process, I've also learned the value of mentors.  Prior to Monday's interview, I contacted a mentor and he was able to help me clarify some of my responses as well as model good coaching strategies.  I've learned that, when I'm in the presence of a great leader, I need to take the time to learn as much as possible.  

Right now, I'm hoping that I'm offered the position closer to home because it would mean not moving as well as continuing to make an impact in the district.  I can see lots of value in staying there as I already have relationships in the community and I can continue the work I've already started.  I will still trust that I am going to end up in the right place in the end.  In any case, all of the interviewing I've done this summer has been valuable as I've made contacts, clarified leadership strengths and weaknesses, and am better prepared for the task at hand.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Interview 5 and 6

Over the last 4 days, I've had two interviews.  Both, in my opinion, did not go as well as I had hoped.  I felt as though I was stumbling in several areas, but apparently the committees did not have the same view.  I've been called for second interviews on both.  At this point, I can see several possible reasons.  One, the schools are getting desperate to get someone on board. Two, there were very few applicants. Or, three (and I hope this is the correct one), the committee was truly impressed with me.  I went into these interviews recognizing that, unlike other interviews where I was selling my skills, I needed to sell me.  The committee is not buying a bill of goods ( or a skill set), they are instead buying into a person.  Skills are necessary, but it is more important to have the right person in place. I hope that I can be that person and display the skills, temperament, and work habits necessary to be beneficial to the success of the school and every student in it.  If not, it is still an opportunity to get to round two and see what happens next.  This, in of itself, is an honor and a privilege. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Interview 2

Okay, interview #2 (and, technically, #3) took place today.  Number two was supposed to be tomorrow, but the school called and wanted to schedule it over the phone.  This was a first for me, but a good experience.  I realized that, when you are talking to people with the same goals, it is easy to talk and share while not worrying about having the "right" answers. In this case, our goal is the effective education of children as we prepare them to be lifelong learners and contributing citizens to this great nation.

Interview #3 was live and long.  Eight interviewers were there and each presented a series of questions, a few of which I was not prepared for.  That was okay because it made me think on my feet.  This was a district that I would like to work for and one that was moving in the right direction.  I was refreshing.  At the end, when it was my turn to ask questions, I think I surprised them with my questions.  The questions were geared towards finding out their perception of the district and to give me an idea if these were people I would want to work with.  Some of the questions included five year plans (which the principal was we'll prepared to answer), what the district motto meant to each member of team, and how the school was perceived by the community.  At the end, I was pleasantly surprised when I was thanked for asking probing questions that made them reflect on their own performance.  I was the last interview of the day and one member said that it was refreshing to end on this note.  

So, from my perspective, whether I am offered the positions or not, it is always refreshing to spend time in the company of other leaders, getting to share my own passion in response to their questions, and then to challenge them to reflect on their on practice.  That's what learning is all about, isn't it.

Now, I head out of town tomorrow to drop in on the phone interview school (see paragraph 1) and then it's on to a hotel several hours down the road in order to be rested for interview #4.  As I've said in previous posts, I know that God has a place for us and I am open to wherever it might be.