Friday, May 25, 2007

Job Descriptions: To Tell the Truth...

... or not.

Isn't it nice when a job description actually tells it like it is? I've been reading plenty of job descriptions at the NAIS Career Center website, and I suspect not all of them are being totally frank.

I read recently about a firm in England looking for someone to "trample on willing men." That's right; they're looking for a dominatrix, someone to
earn £100 a day for "wearing leather and stomping on S&M fetishists who enjoy being trodden on".
Tom Stern at Fast Company has a few job descriptions he thinks would tell-it-like-it-is. Here's one that fits, perhaps, with the independent school world:
Must be able to work long hours; proficiency at showing resentment about same will help you blend in with our staff of embittered, power-hungry people all of whom think they have the one right answer. An early awareness of the fact that non-profits are often not mellow at all, but microcosms of competitiveness and dysfunction to rival your average Hollywood studio is helpful. Experience shopping at Whole Foods essential.
My favorite job description I've read recently was from the Motley Fool. They were looking for an Office Jester (I kid you not). The job seems easy enough at first blush:
The ideal individual will embrace our core value of Joyful Optimism, bringing humor, entertainment, and amusement to all employees and visitors of Fool Global HQ. This is not a new position but it offers great flexibility in execution.
But once I read the primary responsibilities, core competencies, preferred qualities, and educational requirements, I realized there was no way this was really my job.

Current on all reality TV? Nope. Pop Culture expert, able to postulate about Season 3 of Lost? Well, pop culture, perhaps, but Lost; no way. Always at the ready with a quip or comeback? Sure, but do they have to be painless? Equally comfortable in a jester cap and bear suit? Okay, finally something I can handle. Proven game room skills as a formidable adversary in Halo, Ms. Pacman and Bubble Hockey; ability to convincingly let management win on occasion? Management will definately win since I don't do arcade games. Crazy hair? Hey, come on; I'm bald, darn it! That's just not fair. And, as to educational experience, albeit I have a fine pedigree, it just doesn't measure up to the Fool's requirements: Clown college, Improv school, Brown, or equivalent experience.

Here's my ideal: Teach, coach, counsel, and lead in a small, independent, secondary, boarding school. Bring it on, please.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

What creates excellence?

Originally uploaded by Tidewater Muse.
Many schools claim to be about excellence. Many schools claim to seek excellence. The cynic in me suspects many of these claims are mere hype, mere words on the wind, mere comments to assauge key stakeholders and confuse the masses.

Some schools actually do what they preach.

Dave Sherman asked earlier this month, "What Makes the “Best” the Best?" Indeed, what does make the best the best?

Mr. Sherman offers suggestions on what makes an excellent school and what makes an excellent teacher. Perhaps there's nothing earth-shattering, but he a series of worthwhile suggestions. From his "What makes a teacher successful?"
They ask thought-provoking, higher-level questions. Remember Bloom’s Taxonomy? If you have not looked at this research in a while, it might be time to pull this out and re-read it. I have seen teachers make flip charts with questioning prompts based on Bloom’s six levels of questioning (Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation). They use specific verbs that engage their students in critical thinking. They require their students to answer higher-level questions orally and in writing.
See Mr. Sherman's full post about excellence, and consider how you can ratchet up your own performance and the performance of your own school.

I know I'm thinking about it and considering what I can do starting next year when I'm back in the classroom...

Now, if I just knew where I'd be in the classroom...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Nothing to update

Lecture Hall
Originally uploaded by aNNa Munandar.
Here it is, better than half way through May, and I have nothing to report.

Last week, I applied for a dean of students position at a midwest school; today I received this in response:
Thank you for your interest in working for the School. Your application materials have been received and forwarded on to the hiring manager for the position to which you were applying. Due to the high volume of resumes that our organization receives, you may not receive a response if we choose not to interview you. You can assume that if you have not heard from us in one month's time that your application is no longer being considered. A full listing of our current job ads can be found on our website.
Oh, that's just cheery.

The flip side is that this school has, at least, set expectations. I have yet to hear anything from either Saint Swithins-Nestled-in-the-Appalachians or Saint Swithins-Along-the-Big-River. I'm feeling feeling the love.