My thoughts drifted for a moment……I think I am answering a parent question about the diversity of a community and how to help build community in a diverse population, or was it a diverse community that results in diversity or a population that is diverse and community that makes a population and what was I going to do???? Hmmm…this is very confusing isn’t it? At least, that was the internal dialogue when sleep deprivation, dehydration, tension, and possibly aliens swooped down upon the room, clouded my thinking and momentarily shut off some inner switch.
“Excuse me”. I find myself saying. “I think I need some water”. Feeling the color draining from my face, I get up and take a few steps, grab a water bottle, catch my breath, rally my thoughts, sit back down, and attempt to recover a response. I ramble for 10 more seconds and then realize I better cut my losses on the diversity question. I press “Ctrl-Alt-Reset” to reboot my brain and take another swig of the best water I’ve had in weeks!
The momentary abduction and time travel abates, the color returned but the incredible embarrassment remained. I manage to recover, last another 40 minutes and, I believe, save the interview. Parents remain behind, ask reasonable questions, stake a claim or two about topics they would like to address and the parent interview is over. Phew! I have 2 hours until my next interview.
I think it’s important to consider the job search as a type of sport. So, if today’s collection of interviews was a 4 quarter
sporting event clearly I was down early by double digits after my fumbled “moment” but I think I rallied to at least tie the score after the first quarter……Lots of potential sports analogies. I can hear the announcer recapping the first quarter.
“He was down early, but the comeback gained traction with his description of his most recent parent evening presentation.”
I pride myself on parent relationships and the ability to connect and communicate with parents. Should the job hunt be successful I’m not particularly concerned as I know how to support that partnership. But, the moment was a singular embarrassment. But, I also knew, right away, it would make a great story! It could have been worse, that’s for sure.
I wander the campus, a spectacular campus at 5000 feet in elevation (maybe it was the altitude)! I wander around classrooms speaking to students and teachers at random. I’m a nosy stranger trying to understand the pulse of the high school campus.
The game continues with a Student Council interview during lunch. This is fun. A former JIS Pattimura student who recognizes Rhona, and a 12th grader who used to attend LCS years ago who is good friends with some of my current students are among the handful of student leaders. We talk policies about student athlete absences, discuss whether the school needs a track, the merits of 85 minute blocks vs 60 minute blocks in a schedule and in general what the students feel is needed at the school. It’s lunch time, a bit rushed, but they were interested in sharing opinions. Talking to thoughtful kids who want to engage with you always leaves me hopeful. It goes well, it’s mid-day, I glance at the scoreboard and things are promising.
I enter my 4th quarter interview with the search committee knowing that a strong closing performance is important. Sleep deprivation is countered by yet another double expresso – and some tasty coffee at that. A potential colleague reveals his true love – his office coffee machine! Life is good.
A healthy exchange with the selection committee, no alien abductions, no “senior” moments, no drama, results in a promising overnight scoreboard. Day 2 closes with Rhona and I out to dinner with Tony and Nancy Mock. Unbelievably this is the first time we’ve met this fun couple but our paths, mutual connections, and histories are well connected from our collective years in Asia. Wonderful to make new friends over dinner.
So, what did I learn?
- Multi day interviews with various constiuents are challenging. But, they provide opportunities. A singular moment, unless it’s a real doozy, does not seal one’s fate. If you treat the experience like a sporting event, you have to figure out how to keep the offense moving, defend your territory with integrity, rally when needed, and go for the big play when you have the opportunity!
- Finding stories and anecdotes that meaningfully reflect your practice is helpful. These can be told from the heart! I remember the author John Marsden talking about writing to Grade 8 students. His most important advice was to write about what you know. Telling relevant anecdotes, related to your work (and the question at hand) is a powerful tool.
- If you don’t have a good answer, sometimes it’s really okay to admit that you need time to either better understand the scenario or that it’s difficult to speculate. In other words, grasping for a poorly considered but a seemingly defined answer may do more harm than good.
- Being true to yourself and finding the comfort zone in conversations is essential.
Day 3 looms ……. and so do a couple of interviews and decision time…..