Getting Ready for the Next Step in Leadership

One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.

– Arthur Ashe

As we approach the spring, typically administrators are gearing up for their internal letter of intents to determine who will be with them during the upcoming school year, teachers are reflecting and reviewing their options on whether or not they want a change and districts are planning their spring job fairs in an attempt to catch the high quality teachers early. As a future administrator candidate, how do you prepare for your next step in leadership?

I recently found myself in a quandary when I returned from the Thanksgiving break to discover that in approximately 2 weeks, I needed to find a new Assistant Principal for the second half of the school year. As I completed the task of finding a new AP, I reviewed all 81 candidate applications, references and resumes. You see, each document would shed a light on who the candidates were and whether or not they would be a great fit for my school. The challenge of course is how do you narrow them down to your top five for interview candidates? How do I find those resumes that provided artifacts as a  summary of their skills, abilities and accomplishments? As I reviewed the candidates, I quickly realized that people are not good at selling themselves.

What is the purpose of a resume? A resume is a quick advertisement of who you are. It is a snapshot of you with the intent of capturing and emphasizing your strengths and interests that will secure you an interview with an organization that could use your expertise.

So I asked myself, if I could speak to some of the candidates and provide feedback on some things to keep in my mind as they are beginning to apply for that leadership position, what would I say? Well, I will attempt to provide my 5 top things future leader candidates should keep in mind when applying for a leadership position.

  1. Attention to details matter. Stand out from the crowd with high quality content and a clearly written, error-free document. Don’t forget to have someone review your resume for errors, formatting and key information. Remember, your resume and cover letter is also a reflection of your writing skills and ability to communicate with others.
  2. Reflect leadership. When applying for a leadership position, be sure your resume reflects leadership experiences held during your tenure in schools. Your resume should reflect the job you are seeking. Leaders look for individuals who have experience leading others and leading change. This includes positions such as grade level chair, department chair, MTSS chair, School Improvement Team, etc.
  3. Do your homework. Research the school in which you are applying to. A web page or social media page will tell you a lot about the culture and climate of the organization you are applying to. Yes, data is important, however, data alone does not always tell the story of who the people are that make up the organization. How do you connect to their initiatives? What is important to the organization and how can you support or enhance what is already there?
  4. Update your references. Be sure you have updated references on your resume and in the online portal that your completing your application in. During my review of applicants, I found that many applicants had the same references from when they may have applied for a position with the same district over 2 years ago. In my district, we must have a reference from your current or most recent supervisor. Be sure your references are aware that you are applying and be sure they are able to give you a favorable reference.
  5. Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure. ~ Confucius. Prepare for the interview. It is never to early to prepare for your interview. If this is your first time interviewing for a leadership position, ask your current leader or friends in leadership to conduct a mock interview for practice. Nervous jitters can get the best of us. Research possible questions that are typically asked in these types of interviews. I have provided a video below that I have shared with many aspiring school leaders who have expressed interest in tapping their toe in the leadership pool. Principal Baruti Kafele’s video on “More Thoughts to Consider for the Assistant Principalship,” is one of the best videos I have found that gives you the “real talk” on interview preparation. Most importantly, know why you are wanting to be a leader. Your passion for leadership will come out during your interview.

So, are you ready for your for the next step in school leadership? Good Luck!

My First Blog Post

A New Year of Possibilities in 2020!

Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create. ~ Jana Kingsford

#2020Goals!  Every year I have attempted to make new year resolutions as it pertains to my life as a school leader and separate resolutions as it pertains to my personal life.  I make a plan to create a vision board, write down my goals on sticky notes or share with an accountability partner thinking that this time, I will stick to what I said I would do.  

Early in my career as a principal, one of my internal struggles was how to lead effectively while staying present for my family. I remember leaving school on my work phone, pulling in my garage on my work phone, walking in the house on my work phone and eventually falling asleep fully clothed on the couch as I attempted to sit for a second to gather myself before tending to the family.  I was lucky if I was able to walk in the door and turn my computer on just to finish the work I did not get to finish at school.  This was my poor attempt to leave at a decent time from work because I spent more time in the classrooms than my office.  Amongst the 100 things that I wish I knew then that I know now, is how to create the balance between work and home.  I constantly felt guilty for not being more in the present with my children, helping my husband prepare for the next day and giving myself permission to let go at times.  I had the constant pressure on myself to be the best and do my best because my teachers and students deserved it.  I came across a quote from Author, Heather Schuck, ” You will never feel truly satisfied by work until you are satisfied by life.”  Often times as leaders we feel that if we don’t give our all to something, we will fail at it.  As a new principal, I thought that the more I put into the work, the higher student achievement would be.  What I failed to realize at that time was that my bucket also had to be filled in order to fill the bucket of others.  I also learned that I do not have to slack in one area in order to give my all in the other.  Balance is key! 

So my wiser self began to pull back on sending out emails at 1 a.m. in the morning, leaving my laptop in the car until the kiddos are down.  I also began to turn off my cell phone once I leave my office and allowing my leadership team to stay a little later so I may  attend my own children’s school events.  Finally, creating more impromptu date nights with the hubby on a school night at the Mexican restaurant around the corner from the house has proven to be time well spent.  oh, please do not think that this is something that I have mastered (Not by a long shot).  I am truly a work in progress.  My wonderful and supportive husband and I are working on creating balance in our lives. Also being a leader of others in his career as you can imagine creates a busy and sometimes hectic schedule for our family.  I have decided to approach this goal the same way I approach my school improvement plan.  Set my goals for work and family (with my spouse), work on 1 goal at a time, revisit and reflect on the status of that goal and make adjustments as needed.   I quickly learned that the do as I say, not as I do for my staff and children is no longer acceptable, because they are holding me accountable as well.  


So my #2020oneword is “Balance”! My wish for all school leaders is that you truly spend more time on filling your bucket so you are more effective with filling the bucket of others.  My wish for you is that you realize your self-worth and how deserving you are to be satisfied in your work and personal life.  My wish for you is to have true joy and satisfaction in your work as a mom, wife, daughter, friend or school leader.  My final wish for you is to have “BALANCE!”  Think of the possibilities!

Let Me Introduce Myself

Great leaders harness personal courage, capture the hearts and minds of others and empower new leaders to make the world a better place. – Maxine Driscoll, Founder Think Strategic

Hello and welcome to my Principal Captain Kirk Principal Blog.  I am so glad you are able to join me on this journey to focus on effective school leadership and while creating balance as a mom, principal, wife and educator.  I have been an educator for over 20 years and currently completing my 10th year as an Elementary Principal.  I started this blog because I have found a new way to carry out one of my passions for providing tools for other school leaders who have the constant challenge of balancing leading schools and leading the home.  A couple of years ago, I found myself questioning my why and my ability to get the results that I know my students deserved and my staff was capable of bringing out.  I soon realized that I needed to reflect on myself and how I was leading others.  Surely, if I was feeling the fizz, so were my staff and school community.  I quickly had to turn inwards and find a way to reinvent myself. Up to this point, I only used Facebook and no other social media outlets. Having preteens in my home and spending more time with my 5th graders, I realized that other social media programs such as Instagram and Twitter would soon be my one of the catalysts to my reinvention. I found that my way to reconnecting to other school leaders and teachers on these sites. Who knew that there were thousands of ideas floating around in the social media world just waiting to be borrowed. After joining a few Facebook sites (I’ll mention later in my posts) and following a few school leaders on Instagram, I found a community that I shared similar visions with and truly were collaborative in nature. This was my time to look past my brick and mortar school, my district and even my state!

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