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You have sent your resume to every recruiter, you finally got that interview and you nail it! They loved you and the offer comes in. WAIT! WAIT! WAIT! Before you sign here are a few questions that you should ask before taking what appears to be that dream job.

  • Are you an owner or investor?

We are aware that many times these terms are used interchangeably but they are not created equal. An owner is more likely to have a hands-on approach with what happens in the school.  Business professionals and educators rarely see eye to eye on education. If you find that they are the owners, be prepared to dig deeper to determine their values or what guides their decisions.

On the other hand, if they are investors, they may rarely have any interaction with the school leadership. They may generally settle for monthly reports and often place their trust in the Instructional Leader that they have placed in charge of their investment.

  • Who will be my direct supervisor and what will their role be in the day to operation of the school?

As many schools are owned by corporations or groups that have groups of schools. These schools may appoint a director to oversee the operations of their schools.  If you find that you will be reporting to a director be prepared to ask questions about the role that person will play in the day to day operation of the school. Be ready to discuss their background. Do they have experience running a successful school? Discuss if they have ever operated schools with the same type of curriculum.

I once asked a director in an interview, what is your mission? What do you see as a successful school?

The replay was “Happy parents! Happy students! Happy teachers. Everybody happy”

We all know that is impossible. As the poet, John Lydgate stated: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all the people all of the time”.

These kinds of statements scream “Buyer Beware”.  Do not be afraid to ask your immediate supervisor what their educational beliefs, goals and missions are. The answer to these kinds of questions will give you clear insight into what to expect in their leadership. It also can help to ensure that you share the same values, which is the key to your happiness as a school leader.

  • Which part of the school operation am I expected to oversee?

One thing I have learned about this region is that there are two types of school leaders Administrators and Instructional Leaders.  School battles have been fought and lost in the understanding of what a principals’ role is. Before you say yes, be sure you know what your role will be and do not assume anything. Eastern and Western philosophy of school leadership is different.  Ask questions like:

Who oversees the hiring and salary of teachers?

Who will oversee the maintenance and upkeep of the school?

Who will oversee the ordering of school supplies and resources?

Will I have a say in what is being ordered? What are the procedures?

Do I have the authority to make curriculum changes and implement instructional strategies?

What procedures if any, must I follow to implement a change or reform in the school?

  • What nationality is the majority of the staff?

This may be the most important question of them all. The answer to this question will give you the best insight into the organisation. For example, if you are taking the leadership position for an American school and there are no Americans on your staff.  This can give you an insight into the type of training and Professional Development (PD)  you may have to have provide.

The answer to this question also gives you clues into the culture of the school. One of the greatest things about living in the UAE is that there are people from all races, colours and nationalities, each coming with their own work culture. Having knowledge of the people can give you the opportunity to weigh within yourself if your skill set and abilities are aligned with those of the existing staff.

School Leadership in an international setting can be exciting. When you consider taking a position you want to be sure that you are equipped with all the necessary information to ensure your success. Take the time to ask the tough questions and WAIT for the answers.

By: Loretta Sanders