Rejection is a common element in my life right now. I have been told “no” many times, all in the nicest ways possible. “We offered the position to someone else.” “We really liked what you had to share, but…” “Unfortunately, this submission will not work with our publication.” Here is a running list of some of my bigger rejections:
- Two declined manuscripts to Educational Leadership
- One declined article for Edutopia
- Two proposals to my district leadership about rethinking my current position
- Multiple applications and interviews that haven’t panned out
Failure and I have become quite close. I share this because, as I write, I am currently between jobs. (I thought “between jobs” was a cliché, until I actually started to live it.) I am exploring opportunities to stay connected with schools while finding a bit more time to write, publish, and work with other educators beyond the four walls of a schoolhouse. In essence, I am pursuing my dream job.
In the past I have only lightly pursued the possibilities. Last year I applied for a director of elementary education in the Twin Cities, MN. When I didn’t get a call back, I told myself, “Well, it wasn’t my time. I will wait until another opportunity comes along.” I was tiptoeing across an icy pond, unsure about the safety and not wanting to risk it. The problem with this approach is we become reliant on someone else to create that dream job for us. This may never come along. Only we know what we really need out of our lives.
Professional Reflection: How are we helping our students or teachers develop their own dreams?
At the behest of a colleague/mentor, I described and wrote out my dream job. I detailed how I wanted to spend more time writing on a daily basis, as well as the outcomes I envisioned would be a product of my work and collaboration with others. One example: I would love to conduct research on how a more authentic approach to teacher supervision and evaluation would increase teacher autonomy and student engagement. God knows the current system isn’t working. I have been exploring these concepts this past school year. The initial results have been promising.
Will an open position provide for this opportunity? Do the possibilities currently available share the same values I have and honor my most personal and professional requests? In making my desires known, I may be filtering myself out of positions that would not have been a good fit for anyone, employer or employee. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
Professional Reflection: How does rejection play a positive role in our instruction or instructional coaching?
I continue to tell myself that rejection is the doorway to opportunity. If one situation does not work out, this means that a better option is just down the road. But I am also a realist. I have a family to provide for and I have responsibilities. Maybe the opportunities aren’t readily available in plain sight. I realize that I might have to create my own doorway to opportunity, even if that means chalking an outline on the wall and busting through the drywall to carve out a pathway toward what I want and we need.
Wherever life leads us, we have to find that balance between what the world appears to provide for us and our responsibilities in advocating for and sometimes creating what we want. I am realizing on this journey that it is taking some people out of their comfort zones, even if they are not along for the ride. They like stability, and by golly so should you. But they are not living out my dreams any more than I am there’s.
Spring can be a tumultuous season. As you may surmise, I am not referring simply to the rambunctiousness our students display as we count down the days. I know that I am one of several educators out there also exploring what’s possible in their lives. Stay with it, I say. Keep your mind open to what is possible instead of only to what is available. Have faith that one rejection might well be a bend in the road toward what you truly desire.