The Roller Coaster Part 2

So I had a decision to make: Stay where I was as an instructional coach? Pursue other opportunities in the district to acquire administrative skills? Or re-apply for the principal position?

Re-apply. Click, click, click, the roller coaster begins the ascent upward to the next peak. This time it feels like time is standing still. The application window felt like it had been open for two years. Finally, my interview was scheduled. I prepared by revisiting my coursework and reflecting on my internship. I downloaded generic questions and crafted my answers. But honestly the interview was a blur. I was less sure of my responses. My confidence was gone. Click, click, click. I was wondering if I had met the height requirement for the ride. Was I really tall enough? Maybe I should be in line for the Merry-Go-Round. Things seem less complicated in that line. Round and around, I can do that. Eventually…I get a call from the district office– Is it the one I have been hoping for?

“We would like to congratulate you. You have been selected… for the next round of interviews.

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” Whoosh! The cart wobbled as it tipped over the edge and we sped downward with concentrated force. Here comes the moment where that sick feeling re-enters my stomach. I know I can be a principal who elevates the conversation. Or at least I think I can be that person, that principal, right?

Click, click, click. After thinking, processing and talking with friends, I realize I am in the right line. As much as I say I want to get off the ride-I really don’t. Now I am wondering how I can reflect on my interview experiences and craft a clear message so my answers are real, genuine and demonstrate my leadership skills? I continue to read and reflect on different approaches to leadership: Schmoker, Wagner, Hargreaves, Fullen, Reeves and Marzano. I reflect on how my vision of leadership and change echoes these scholars. I continue to think about how I can really elevate the conversation and create space for teachers and students to learn and grow. I make a commitment to revisit the definition of principal as a master teacher – a leader with one foot in the classroom. I will cover classrooms while teachers explore leadership roles and collaborate. Click, click, click, time passes more quickly this time. Before I know it the day of my interview is here.

This time I am ready. I actually talked from the perspective of an administrator. I owned it. I believed it. I spoke with conviction about my vision of leadership and what tools I have to impact teachers, parents and student learning. It was actually fun – sitting across the table with colleagues who were interested in my leadership skills and how I could implement change and impact school culture

This time when I drove home, I felt content that I had accomplished what I hoped to, that I was in fact on the right ride. I knew regardless of the outcome that I had done my best. The next day I was offered the position of elementary principal. Whoosh! I am now wondering if I had even been on a roller coaster or if I had just been in line, imaging what it would feel like to ride. Am I now just crossing the threshold, through the gate to get in the cart? Join me this year as I blog about my rookie year in administration.



Jen Robinson

Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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