I never really thought of myself as principal material, but about 10 years ago I went ahead and added my K-12 principal's certification to the master's degree I was getting at the recommendation of one of my professors. I'm very glad I did it, but I've never actually USED this certification. I'm lucky enough to work in a district where teachers are given many opportunities to fill leadership positions so I've never felt strongly enough to leave the classroom and pursue something else.
And then about 3 weeks ago an internal job listing popped up. This listing was for a coaching / supervisory position. While I wasn't exactly sure what this new position would entail, it sounds like the job that I had been waiting for to finally try out my admin certification. As appealing as it sounded, however, I wasn't exactly sure if I was ready to leave the classroom or my amazing team. It really felt like we were just getting started and had so much more work to do. So, stay where I'm comfortable or take a shot at a new challenge?
I had 4 days to decide whether or not to apply.
I'll spare you the hemming and hawing that went on through 3.5 of those days, but in the end I sent my letter of interest and resume off to Human Resources. I received a polite email thanking me for my interest and letting me know they'd be in touch about the interview process.
About a week after that I received my second email scheduling my interview for June 11 at 11:00. The nervous butterflies fired up as soon as I saw the subject line, but thankfully I needed to get through those crazy last 4 days of school. So I knew the interview was coming but I chose to pretend it wasn't there. I will also spare you the gory details of the shopping trip that was necessary because I didn't have a single "interview appropriate" piece of clothing. Thankfully I have a wonderful teammate who is a shopping pro, and she worked her magic; I believe, however, that I was more of a challenge than she let on. (My lack of the girl shopping gene could be a topic for another post sometime!)
Tuesday morning rolled around. My preparation for the interview really focused on two things: looking up information on the new multiple measures teacher evaluation format being rolled out by the state of PA (Ha! There's nothing.... check for yourself) and developing MY list of questions. The hemming and hawing and debating with myself had gone on most of the last two weeks, resulting in very little sleep and lots of worrying if I was doing the right thing. I wanted to make sure I got enough information about the position that I would be confident it would be the right fit if I was to leave the classroom.
After waiting about 50 minutes the first candidate walked out. I knew right then that I was not supposed to have this position. The other candidate is amazing, somebody I look up to, and this person could do incredible things with their vision in this position.
Following a brief introduction of the process (I knew and have worked with every person on the panel) I answered my 11 questions based upon the competencies they identified for the job. One thing that become increasingly obvious to me was how much I love and believe in what my team is doing. So many of the questions were answered with success stories from my team, challenges from my team... it was all about our team and how we're helping kids. It seemed to be another sign that I was supposed to stay where I was at.
We wrapped up with my questions about the position, and that was an interesting experience. Many of my most important questions didn't have answers, and thankfully I was told that. Another important question I asked was not answered so honestly, and that was the "nail in the coffin" to me. If somebody can't be honest with me during an interview how were they going to be as a colleague? So I left feeling extremely proud of myself for the answers I had given, but I also felt as though 1,000 pounds had been lifted off of my shoulders. I knew this job was not the right fit for me, and my heart was happy to know that I'd be staying in the classroom.
Today my gut feeling was made official. I received the call from HR telling me they had selected somebody else for the position. I probably surprised our HR Director when I told him that I was thrilled to hear that, but it's the truth. The candidate they picked will do an amazing job (I am truly looking forward to working with this person and getting suggestions from them), and my teammates and I will do an amazing job for our kids in the classroom.
It was truly an honor that I was one of only two people selected to interview for the position (who knows, maybe I was one of only two crazy enough to apply!), and I am very proud of the answers I gave and how I conducted myself. More than anything this helped me realize how important my kids and my families are to me, and I am thrilled to be staying put despite the challenges we continue to face.