Should you even bother to apply for a job when you know that there are inside candidates? Can you beat out an insider? Are the cards already stacked against you? The short answer is that you should apply—there is nothing to lose. The actual status of the insider or insiders is unknown. The “powers that be”, the superintendent, board members, other administrators, may not favor the insider. The insider may have been on the wrong side of some internal issue, or is just not well respected. Oftentimes, the screening committee or the hiring committee will reject the insider’s candidacy, which results in a wide-open process.
Even if there you wind up competing with an insider, it remains a possibility that you may prevail. You have no control over the status of other candidates, but you do have control over the quality of your performance. All you can do is to do your very best and then hope for the best.
Nepotism and xenophobia have always existed in many of our schools. It goes beyond just knowing someone on the inside to get a job. Sometimes you must be someone on the inside. Under some circumstances you must even live and work in the district. Organizations that regularly practice nepotism are often resistant to change and do not honor diverse perspectives which might come from outside sources. However, leaders in these schools might argue, “if it ain’t broken why fix it”. They assert the need for continuity and consistency. They preach that outsiders don’t relate to their community. They take pride in being a “close knit community”. Conventional wisdom seems to be that the only way to land a job in many school districts is to be an inside candidate. If this is the case, then you will probably be better off not working in a place like this. Be careful what you wish for because you may get it.
Besides being unfair, nepotism often results in mediocrity in that the best qualified candidates are passed up, and the same practices are perpetuated, as the torch is passed to another insider who was weaned in a closed system. The justification for rejecting outside candidates is often that “they’re not a good fit”—which ironically is often true! Unfortunately, sometimes “outsiders” are chosen and then not listened to, sometimes even shunned. However, schools are entities that must continue to grow and learn.
Supervising Difficult and/or Resistant Staff
Every faculty has difficult and/or resistant people. I think that most supervisors would agree that dealing with them is the most challenging aspect of their job. Being a difficult person is a personality trait. Difficult people come in several varieties. They are often whiners, judgmental, opinionated, and negative. Resistant people do not like change. Resistance can range from being fairly subtle, such as avoidance or passive aggressive behavior, all the way to outright defiance, hostility, and sabotage.
To better understand and then deal with difficult and resistant staff, let’s make some assumptions: (1) Being difficult and being resistant are not the same; however, one can be both difficult and resistant. (2) Almost everyone comes to work each day with the belief that they do a good job and try their best. Now that’s what they believe. (2) Being difficult and/or resistant doesn’t necessarily mean that they are bad teachers. (3) What is most relevant is that the supervisor’s most important job is to assure that every member of the staff measures up to the highest professional standards. (4) As a supervisor, you have a responsibility to treat all staff members with respect. Supervisors should never get sucked into looking and acting like bullies by using your position to be punitive or by threatening others. (5) The faculty is made up of intelligent people who see naysayers for what they are and most don’t want to get involved with petty school politics. (6) If you give naysayers more energy than they deserve, it is like fertilizing weeds, the weeds will likely grow, and you don’t want to squander your energies in unproductive ways. (7) Deal with conflicts privately. Do not avoid confronting negative behavior because it will grow if it is not addressed. (8) Supervise to the evidence, meaning gather data and artifacts as they relate to teaching and learning, and holding staff accountable to procedures and policy. (9) If there is evidence that someone is under-performing, then deal with the under-performance as an opportunity for staff development. (10) We all learn best and change our behaviors by reflecting on our own practices and deciding that we need to make corrective actions. As a supervisor, your job is to hold up valid evidence and data to your staff member like a mirror and help them to reflect upon their own actions and the results of those actions.
In short, the supervisor is the professional, is a role model and never acts like a bully.