What’s Next? Grace Under Fire



Formerly a teacher, now an administrator-in-training, Chris Canter blogs about his yearlong assistant principal internship at Fulton County Public Schools in Atlanta, Ga. Canter was a 2010 ASCD OYEA honoree.

This is my final blog, as my internship has officially ended. Sadly, I have little news to report on the job search. Long story short, a mistake was keyed into my application for more than 20 assistant principal positions that were posted, and my application was never seen by principals or area assistant superintendents.

As you can imagine, I am shocked, dismayed, and very disappointed. In working with our human resources division, I have been told that I will be working next year, but the specifics are still to be determined. I have nothing against returning to the classroom, but I do not wish to invalidate the work in which I have been engaged this year. I’m hoping and praying it all works out. There are still some county-level positions and some assistant principal positions open for which I am a candidate. The situation, of course, places me in a very awkward, uneasy position.

With that said, the constant educator that I am sees a teachable moment in all of this. The current state of affairs has caused me to critically evaluate my work during the past year in order to better market myself. In reviewing each task that I performed, I learned a valuable lesson: despite what appears to be a concerning outcome, I have learned a great deal, and I am a better teacher and person because of this internship.

Working with behavior firsthand has helped me to understand children on a new level; helping teachers evaluate their own instruction has helped me to learn to serve as a coach rather than as a mere supervisor in order to help teachers find solutions to classroom dilemmas. Working with parents has helped me to understand that while we differ on some important parenting skills, we still have one thing in common: we love the children.

I see this final phase as an opportunity to live out my ethics. I can either sit around, angry and frustrated, or I can remain a professional. Perhaps grace under fire is the final lesson that I need to learn to be an effective assistant principal. I know the position will come, although I don’t know the path there. I enter into the next phase of my career unknowing, but with my head held high. I have been called into the noblest of all professions: I am an educator!

Best of luck to each of you during the 2011–12 school year!