Leaping into the Abyss

Leaping into the Abyss
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You’ve polished your resume, attended a recruitment fair, interviewed with some great schools, but you still don’t have a job offer for next year.  Now what?  Join the club.  The recruitment process in international education must be one of the oddest of any industry.  You must first decide whether you want to stay or go at your current position, often before you know if there is a suitable opening at a different school, and if there is, there is no telling whether that position will still be available when the recruitment fair begins.  I suppose the positive side to all of this is that at many of our schools we tell our students to be risk takers, and we undoubtedly model that trait in the recruitment season.

For those of you who are trying to make the leap from teaching to admin, the recruitment process is even more risky.  Should you take another teaching position if you can’t step into a leadership role this time and postpone your leadership move for a few more years?  The irony of the whole thing is that as a budding school leader you’re probably perfectly qualified for teaching positions at schools you would have jumped to be at last time you went through the recruitment wringer.

As I have had the opportunity to speak with a number of school leaders, as well as interview for a number of leadership positions, I keep hearing the same thing “Don’t give up, it’ll happen.”  Logically, this is likely true, since the more times one applies and the more experience one gets in the meantime, the more likely it is that eventually that person will be the right fit for some position.

It’s hard to argue with the advice “Don’t give up, it’ll happen,” but what if you don’t have the patience to wait?  After all, as a generation X or Y’er and a millennial, patience isn’t  always one of my best traits.  So although I think patience is a virtue to strive after, I also believe in action and doing.  That’s why in addition to the advice “Don’t give up, it’ll happen,” I’d like to add “but do something big now!”

Obviously everybody’s situation is different, and the decision to stay or to go is something everybody must decide on their own, but that shouldn’t stop you from doing something big now.  Like what?  I suppose whatever you’re passionate about, for instance: blog, do action research, publish, prepare a workshop for next years conference, network ideas with other professionals in the region…and most importantly make your contribution public so the rest of us can follow your progress and be inspired.

Personally, I understand how draining the recruitment process can be, but I also feel some excitement standing out on the ledge over the abyss, maybe even a little freedom, because although I may have felt I was perfect for ‘this job or that job’ one more ‘no’ keeps me nervous enough to continue creating and thinking entrepreneurially about the possibilities in my future.

Author: Andy Aldrich

Andy is a founder of Learn[ed]Leadership as well as a school administrator at Punahou School in Honolulu, HI. In addition to pontificating on ideas in education, Andy stays busy chasing after his daughter and impressing his wife with his big muscles.

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1 Comment

  1. Well said. It sure is an interesting experience. Appreciate you mentioning the upside of being a role model of ‘risk-taker’ for our students. If nothing else I feel like it also teaches resilience – a trait that one needs a lot of as an administrator, don’t you think? Interestingly the journey doesn’t stop there, does it? I always wonder about not only when that break will come and what happens after that 🙂
    Wishing you the best.

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