Stepping stones and stumbling blocks

“Hi Brenda, glad you could be here today for this interview. You have been in your previous district for a long time. I see it is your hometown. Why move? Are you going to use this as just a stepping stone in your career?”

Great question. I would ask the same question in your position. My career speaks for itself. I am a dedicated employee; I wouldn’t say I like to make changes. I believe consistency in education is essential. I wouldn’t say I like the thoughts of moving people around, which I know this district has done. If I am hired for this principal position, I would ask not to be moved. It takes at least three years to make significant changes for positive growth.

I am making a move now because I am ready for a principal position. I come from a small district, and movement is limited. I have served as an Assistant Principal for the past four years and am ready for new experiences. I plan to retire from this district if I am hired.

As a leader, you often need to ask questions to have the right people in the right places. In this situation, we both wanted to make sure our points were made but for different reasons. The employer wanted to avoid stepping stones, and I tried to avoid stumbling blocks.

Stepping stones are a natural part of moving up the professional ladder. Everyone wants to advance, and when you reach a level with nowhere else to go, you may begin to look for something else. It is natural for people to want to continue to grow. Keep this in mind as you provide employees with opportunities to grow, learn, demonstrate and earn recognitions.

I wanted to avoid being placed in positions that would be a stumbling block, preventing me from accomplishing goals in serving others. It isn’t easy to achieve goals when stumbling blocks are positioned in pathways.

Take a moment a review your current team and the stumbling blocks in place. Are there thoughts, procedures, lack of resources, or others to prevent growth? How do we respond to stumbling blocks?

Recently, my daughter told me they start school in one week, and several of the new hires have quit. Is this considered a stepping stone issue or a stumbling block issue?

Do you place stumbling blocks in place? We could do this without realizing it. Strong beliefs about a topic without allowing debate and listening to the other side can cause an obstruction.

If we can go back to my opening interview, I can tell you I did get the job as principal in the new district. Remember I asked not to be moved? I was moved at the end of the first year to another building to be principal. It was middle school! The previous principal took a job in another district. Was it a stepping stone or a stumbling block? It depends on who’s lens you look through.

Oh, by the way, I never left the district that hired me. Things may have changed over the years, but I never left them. I stand by my beliefs and my word.

Stepping stones are important as long as no one is hurt along the way. Stumbling blocks are part of the journey. Do not let these prevent you from moving forward to accomplish your goals.

Published by Brenda Yoho

Christian,Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Aspiring Author, Motivator, Survivor, Leader, Coach, Mentor and a service agent living a life of purpose. Started my career in education as a teaching assistant, moved into the teaching role, followed by administration serving as Assistant Principal, Principal and Director of Educational Support Programs. Over my more than two decades of educational experience I have served as the Illinois Principals Association Illini Region Director and most recently as a mentor/coach for principals. In addition, I have presented at their conferences over the years. In my final years in administration I served also as the Illinois Association of Title Directors Vice President and Treasurer. I am a survivor of an indirect hit of lightning and an almost fatal accident with a semi truck that hit the car I was traveling in with my family. My daughter, granddaughter and close friend survived as well! My injuries were the most significant leaving lifelong damages.

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