I keep an eye on the job listings for independent schools in my region. When I see one that looks interesting, it's a chance to test my inclinations, to ask myself whether I really think I'd be happier at this other job. This practice mostly serves to limit my occasional grass-is-always-greener inclinations and to remind me that I'm happy (if a teeny bit bored this year) where I am. So that's a good thing.
But on Friday I read an ad that I can't seem to forget about. I don't actually think that I'd get the job, but I'm seriously considering applying for it, to stretch myself and to find out more about this kind of job so that if I remain interested, I'll have a better sense of what to work on to prepare myself for a future opportunity.
This attractive ad is, unexpectedly, for an administrative position! Yes, I know I didn't like being department head last year, but as my mother-in-law (a retired head of an independent school) pointed out to me more than once, there is a lot of variety in administrative roles, and some of the specific things I didn't like about heading a department wouldn't be part of other roles. And the hardest part of the job last year (other than dealing with Ex-Co-Author) was working with the FGS academic dean, who is a nice woman but pretty crazy-making for the department chairs. So in my weekly persuing of job ads, I always read carefully the full position descriptions for things like academic dean roles ... and I always wind up thinking, "Nope, not for me."
... until this ad, that is. It's for a combined Academic Dean and Dean of Faculty position. The latter is the administrative position I've thought from the beginning I might like, but they're fairly rare. And I love the way that this ad is written -- incredibly positive, and much more about what one would be striving for in the position than a cut-and-dried "here's what your responsibilities would be" description. For example, here's one sentence of the description: "The Dean is a passionate advocate for faculty interests and an equally passionate steward of the mission and vision of the School." Also, it's a girls' school, and you know that single-sex education for girls is something that I've been a real proponent of.
I'm surprised that I'm so enamored of this possibility, because it's a boarding school two hours from where we live. So getting this job would mean uprooting D's and my lives and selling or renting our house (I'd be inclined to do the latter, since we really do love our house). But somehow that uprooting does not detract from the appeal of the job and maybe even adds to it.
I'm very aware in all of this that this is my 8th year at FGS, which means I've now worked here longer than anywhere else. Maybe that's a reason for the bit of restlessness I've been feeling lately. I'm certainly enjoying my AP Lit class, but teaching my three sections of freshmen, while reasonably enjoyable in the moment, are not making my heart sing.
It's also true that I'm facing the fact that staying in my current job means that my income will stay very predictable, with about a 3% cost-of-living adjustment every year. Not too shabby at all, but not the easiest way to tackle the debt that D. and I have accrued over the last few years as her health and unemployment have been a bit rocky. Moving to on-campus housing and making a higher salary would certainly make more of a dent in that debt than continuing as we've been.
Anyway, for all of these and other reasons, this job is seriously if unexpectedly attractive to me. It's a school I know only by (excellent) reputation, and I've spent a lot of time this weekend perusing the school's website and growing even more interested in the position.
Here's why I think I won't get the job:
The first requirement for the job is "experience in independent schools as an educator, administrator, and leader." Educator, yes. Administrator, really only the acting department head role last year. But I like that "leader" is the third option, and I think one could argue that I've been a leader at FGS even when I haven't been an administrator. But still, I think I look shaky on this point.
- Another requirement is "demonstrated success in leading an institution or program through strategic planning, institutional change and/or growth." Again, my answer is "sort of." I did chair a committee when FGS went through its accreditation process five or so years ago; I did institute two significant program changes last year as department head; but I'm not sure I've got much else to point to on this front.
- I'm also a little iffy about "knowledge of best practices in curriculum development, pedagogy, and educational technology." I mean, I think I have pretty good at each of these, but that's not the same thing as having the right terminology. But I think I could get up to speed.
- The last requirement in the ad is "advanced degree and continued professional development in school leadership." Now, do you think that means "advanced degree ... in school leadership"? Because that I don't have. I do have an advanced degree, of course, but it's in English, not in any education field. And what is "continued professional development in school leadership"? Whatever it is, I'm pretty sure I don't have it.
- Finally, one needs to submit five references. There are certainly more than five people who could say how great I am! But they're all at FGS. I'm realizing that my professional world is all about my school and not about, for example, collaborating with teachers at other schools or contributing to my local association of independent schools.
So that's five reasons that I probably won't make it past the first round of the application process. There are also multiple reasons that I would make a good fit, so I'm not doubting myself or my qualifications, just being realistic.
And despite those five reasons, I'm seriously thinking about applying. For starters, I'll have to write a statement of educational philosophy, which is the sort of thing that's good to articulate every few years. Secondly, I'll wind up sitting down and talking with the various folks I'm going to use as references, and that will be a great opportunity for some mentoring; it also may open the way for some quasi-administrative roles at FGS that will help prepare me for future opportunities of this kind. Third, it looks like all candidates have a preliminary conversation with the search firm that the school has hired, so that's some interview experience right there.
All of this has provided much unexpected food for thought, as you can imagine. And even though I don't think I'll get the job, it feels good to be striving for something.