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Thinking & Musing in Ghana: The Job Hunt

Thinking & Musing in Ghana: The Job Hunt

So Much to Consider!! (Image:
THINKING AND MUSING IN GHANA is a blog featuring thoughts, marinations and reflections from Geoff Smith, the Lincoln Community School Secondary School Principal in Accra, Ghana.
Alright. I’m 58 and job hunting… I admit it, I’m getting old. My spirit is youthful (some say I’m an arrested adolescent), I’m in solid physical shape (I bike, run, swim), I’m reasonably current with teaching and learning, and I’m flexible about where to go next. Seems like I’ve got potential.
But, OMG I have an interview coming up!!!!! I have 25 years as an administrator and I’ve spent hours interviewing candidates for teaching positions but I can count the number of times I’ve been interviewed in my life on my fingers. Not very many, considering I’m almost the big Six – Oh.
Interviewing takes skill, especially interviewing over Skype. Being quick on your feet – at least for me – is always a challenge, as I often consider my most insightful thoughts as a series of linked sentence fragments. Sentence fragments don’t really sound very impressive in interviews! I need the face-to-face conversation, but even then I probably tend to “over talk” everything!
Then there is the brushing up on buzzwords and trends. I certainly had read about STEM in the US and the focus upon Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math and the absolute need to build programs that nurture engineering skills in students. Recently STEAM has become equally valued, and rightly so. The "A" stands for the Arts, and now STEM begat STEAM!
I recently made a comment during the interview about wanting to learn more about inquiry and “digging” into it more. I made it sound like inquiry was new to me. When, in fact, what I meant was – every school (as viewed through most current position descriptions) refers to inquiry in their mission, strategic plan, curriculum documents, etc., and yet I wonder how many of them are TRULY doing inquiry. It takes training and skill to be a really good inquiry teacher, especially at the upper school grade levels.
My point is admitting that you want to learn more about something can sometimes hurt your chances. A few years ago, I was interviewing with a school board for a superintendent position. I admitted that I hadn’t been a superintendent before (not hard to admit since my resume gave that fact away) and I hadn’t been in a position of the bottom-line budget manager... I thought I was stating the obvious; they thought I was signalling my need for excessive help.
Then there is the post-interview autopsy. Why did I say that? What rubbish did I spew with that comment? WHAT WAS I THINKING? The other day I was asked about recent professional development. I rambled on about experiences I'd had with PD the last few summers but I didn’t even mention the hours I spend culling my twitter feed and reading articles, and how much I learn about my profession by my PLN through twitter. Why didn’t I talk about my use of social media for personal learning?
Sometimes you feel as if you have really hit the mark. That’s okay until you ultimately convince yourself otherwise. Or worse, you get the rejection email, even though you thought it went perfectly! Spouses, our “non-opinionated” partners in all of this, have a very specific role here. Bouncing ideas and listening to the autopsy are both valued. But, any soothing words in an attempt to provide comfort are not really considered neutral… nice try, but I know I blew it.
So, how does one survive the process and what reminders really matter as I put my head down and barrel through the coming weeks and months? Here are 5 things that come to mind:
• Always maintain perspective, it’s about the right match.
• After all these years, experience does matter.
• Re-read and understand your philosophy. Is it really what you believe?
• Understand and pitch your assets. Know your strengths.
• Cast a wide net and truly know what is important for the next move. What conditions are essential?
At the end of the day, it’s about a good fit. If you have the skills, knowledge, and experience, there should be a good match out there somewhere. Until then, I’ll keep bolstering myself for my next Skype conversation... in fact, that’s tonight, in six hours!
I'd better get ready, go to the gym and loosen up, cram in a few articles, re-read my resume, maybe even take a nap so I’m well rested and my sentence fragments are longer than seven or eight words in length. My palms are sweaty already!!

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11/02/2014 - mb
Great write up about your experience. Am going through the same as I have an interview tomorrow. Trying to figure out how to prepare is the tough part. Think I'm just ready for it to be done!
10/30/2014 - jd
Well said! I'm also going through the same. Best of luck to both of us.



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