It was late April 2011. I had just completed my internship and I was celebrating, as every newly licensed teacher should. I had a long summer full of graduate classes ahead of me: the last of my graduate program. Honestly, I was looking forward to a wedding in late May and a honeymoon to follow. Life was good; I had everything I had ever wanted.
Everything, that is, except for a job.
I realized that I’d made good contacts with many at my student teaching school. I loved my mentor teacher; I had solid professional relationship with the assistant principal of discipline (coincidental…not that I leaned on him too much). I adored my students and I learned a lot from my experience. I had mastered just about every part of my internship…except for networking with my principal.
So, I called him.
Sure, I was done with the requirements of my student teaching. I could’ve very easily worked on wedding details from the moment I walked out of the doors of MLK Jr. High School and never looked back. But I didn’t want that. I wanted a chance to be able to work at the school I loved so much.
I think the principal respected my initiative. At least, I’d like to think that. Although he was extremely busy with the flurry of the end of the school year, he suggested that I return to teach for him. I chose the class period (fourth period…I will never forget you!) and the activity (a botched attempt at a belief walk using critical lenses with literature). My students were great sports; all of those babes wanted me to get a job.
After the lesson, we returned to Dr. Everett’s office; it was decorated with UGA paraphernalia. Immediately, I knew he was a good man.
“Your lesson was good, but I wasn’t sure why the students were out of their seats. Some of them got a little distracted, but you seem to have a great command of the classroom.”
That one sentence gave me a lot to think about. I got great feedback. I wouldn’t have gotten this insight had I just walked out the doors forever. I got four incredibly valuable benefits from meeting with my principal.
1. I gave myself an interview. Interviews are impossible to come by in this incredibly competitive field of education. If you schedule a meeting and observation with the principal, you’ve given yourself an interview…no hustling required. Principals love to know what type of instruction is going on inside of the building they are responsible for. If you give him/her an opportunity to see your teaching style, who knows, they just might find a place for you to continue teaching for them.
Also, you’ll get practice answering difficult questions. The principal looked over my resume (of course I had a resume and business card ready for him), and looked at my previous experience working with students: a coaching job in East Cobb.
“I see your only experience is in East Cobb county; that demographic is completely different than ours. How do you think you could possibly relate to our student body?”
If you know me at all, you will know that question made me incensed and offended.
And that is EXACTLY what he intended for me to be.
I answered simply, “Kids are kids; it doesn’t matter where you are or what your students look like, as a teacher, I’ve been faced with similar problems across races and districts. I can relate to these students because I listen to their issues; I work hard to resolve them; and I love what I do.”
He liked that answer. He appreciated my indignation. He wanted to see that I loved my students no matter what. I left the office still shaking. That question will forever be burned in my memory as the toughest, most offensive question I’ve ever been asked during an interview. But I appreciated him putting my feet to the fire.
2. I made a good impression on him and I was highly recommended to other principals in the district.
After we met, he looked at me and admitted, “I don’t have a spot for you for the following school year; but I do know of a few openings at Clarkston High School. The principal’s name is Michelle Jones, a fellow UGA grad.”
You know what I did after leaving his office? I didn’t go celebrate: champagne in hand and a pat on the back for a job well done. I went directly to attempt to give myself an interview at Clarkston High School. And that impromptu pop-by turned into a job my second year of teaching.
3. Other principals asked him about me; he didn’t just furrow his brow and ask, “who?”
He knew me; he saw my teaching style. He wanted to hire me. Next week, I’ll talk about what to expect during a formal interview (and what not to read into), but be prepared for principals to ask others about you. If your principal doesn’t know anything about you, then you’ve missed out on an opportunity to make a great impression on the principal you’re interviewing with.
Make SURE not to miss out on meeting with your principal. You could cost yourself a job.