The Roller Coaster

Jen Robinson Education, Teacher Leadership

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I am not a throw your hands in the air, eyes wide-open roller coaster rider. I am more of a “death” grip on the safety bar, feet wedged to the floor, eyes closed kind of rider.

Earlier this spring my district posted a vacancy for an elementary principal. I was finishing my last administrative class and awaiting my scores from the state licensure test. I submitted my application and letters of recommendation right away. The window closed and the interview team selected candidates. Thirty-five narrowed down to fourteen. My interview was one of the first. I knew there would be other more qualified applicants. All I wanted to do was make their decision more difficult, bring my name to the conversation. I wanted to talk about using the tools of cognitive coaching with students, teachers and parents. I aspired to talk about providing support to teachers – because we know the most important work happens in the four walls of the classroom. I anticipated discussing the importance of creating space for teachers and students to learn and grow.

My interview came and I felt good about it. Of course I had great answers to the questions while I drank my coffee driving to work the next day. Reflecting on my responses, I remained true to my beliefs about education and learning. My voice was heard, I was me.

I was selected as one of four to return for a second interview. The other candidates had several years of experience in administration. I was honored to stand beside them during this process. I knew my “game” was at a different level. Now I just wanted to do well. Get my name out there in a different light and allow the district to see how I can if given the opportunity elevate the conversation around supporting teachers and impacting student learning.

By now I am already buckled in.  A week went by and I received a phone call. A principal had been selected. Deep breath in, click, click, click, the rollercoaster advances up the incline toward the top. “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” the cart wobbled as it tipped over the edge and we sped downward with intense force. My stomach dropped, a rush of despair ran through me. However, another principal position had opened…

So now, I have decisions to make: Do I stay where I am as an instructional coach? Do I pursue other opportunities in the district to acquire administrative skills? Or do I apply for this principal position? Click, click, click…


Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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Comments 1

  1. Jen Robinson

    Hi Donnie-
    So glad you are back. I love that the classroom gives you a purpose. IA career that you find mentally challenging and stimulating. In the classroom, you are creative and innovative. Thank you!

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