It’s amazing how stressful it is to search for a leadership position. Many of us have the same story where we start by searching for an admin position and we are open to searching for a position that we are currently in (ie. homeroom teacher, middle school math, counselor). Having two options is comforting and feels like a safety net when it comes time to tell our current schools that we are not renewing our contracts. There is one big problem with this, more of our experience, and potentially our talents, are with the current position. We are often interviewed and considered for a non-administration position (sometimes with the promise that we will be seriously considered for any future openings) or we are often told on paper or in person that we lack the amount of years of experience or skill sets that the school is looking for in a leadership position.
So, what is the solution to this problem? Just cut the cords and take the leap. Do not open yourself to get a position in the career that you have already had. Only apply for the leadership positions. We need to be prepared for the rejection that is going to come our way as we search for the school that is willing to have faith in a new leader. We need to know that there will be many schools that will not even look our way when they see our CVs. Some schools that we interview with will seem like the perfect fits, but they do not call us for a second or third interview. The interesting thing is that the majority of educational leaders in schools share the same story. Interview after interview of rejections. You will find schools that you are sure will give you an interview and not even make it through the first round.
In some ways, I feel that this rejection piece serves a purpose. After receiving several rejections, even within my own school, I started to ask more questions to the ones who had interviewed me for the positions. “What were my strengths that you noticed?” “What were the growth areas or reasons why I was not chosen for the position?” I did not accept “We went a different direction.” I asked for details of how I can become a more well-rounded leader to be considered in the future. One of the greatest gifts I received from the rejection was that of self-reflection. I realized that I had holes that needed to be filled with new learning and more practice.
Now, heading into a new round of applications, interviews, and hopefully my first leadership position, I feel a little more confident. Yes, I felt quite stripped of my pride at the time of hearing that I did not get the second interview or the position, but now I am better prepared. I have learned new vocabulary for speaking about the way I coach others. I have gone out of my way to better understand the complexities of curriculum and standards and how you create teacher buy-in and opportunities for teacher input to ensure success while implementing new curriculum. If I do not get the next interview, I will be asking questions to find out what I am missing or how I can improve myself in the process.
I am far from fully prepared for my first position, but I am more confident than ever that I have the capacity to continue to grow and learn in the new position and seek out opportunities to fill the holes to be a better leader.
For all of you who have embarked on the journey of finding that first position or who are about to, know that you are not alone. We will rise up from the rejections and find the right school to help build us to be the best leader that we can be.