The interviewer wants to determine your level of experience with making complex decisions. The best answer to this question will involve something that directly impacts the students or teachers. Examples may include curriculum changes after budget cuts or changing the start and end time of the school day. Telling the interviewer that you recognize how your decision will impact the lives of the students or teachers is a great idea.
"The school I worked for was making budget cuts and I, along with the principal and board, had to decide which of two teachers to lay off. This choice was tough as they were professionally capable and I had good personal relationships with them. I made a pros and cons list, talked to their students and their students' parents, and discussed options with each of them extensively before making a decision. In the end, I wrote a stellar recommendation for the teacher we let go, and he got into an amazing school. I think it's essential to go the extra mile when making difficult decisions like this."
"I have had to make difficult decisions, along with my principal, on a regular basis. The most challenging situations are surrounding students displaying behavioral issues. Often we need to make recommendations for these kids to be put into other programs. It is a challenge to talk to the parents about our concerns regarding their children."
"We recently had to evaluate our educational offerings at the school, and for budgetary reasons, make necessary cuts to maintain for the upcoming school year. Valuing the aspects of math, science, history, language and the arts, we had some difficult decisions to make. My team and I worked together to combine the arts program and create a hybrid language program as an offering for student electives. We were able to meet budgetary requirements without compromising the integrity of a complete education - and it is something we are very proud of."
"I made the decision not to change a grade for a football player-even though I was told to do so. He had 51% in my English class, and the administration wanted him to have a 79.5%. It was a large Catholic High School. They fired me!"
Since you are comfortable sharing this example, add more context to your response so the interviewer gets to know who you are. You want to be a standout candidate, so adding more information with your example could be helpful.
"I have once confronted by a very difficult predicament. I was instructed to change a grade for an athlete. There were a multitude of risks for me, the student, and the school depending on how I decided to deal with the issue. Ultimately, I could not go against my integrity, and therefore did not change the grade. As a result, I was terminated from that school. That experience taught me many lessons. I stand firm my values, and know that I made the right decision. I lead by example, and will not alter my integrity personally or professionally."
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"Launching a new site in Atlanta had its challenges, and this created some frustrations with my staff. I worked hard to maintain positivity and to build a culture based on TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More.
One staff member was continually negative, complaining about every little thing. Several of my staff came to me about this because it was starting to affect them. I had to have a difficult conversation with this teacher because I could not allow her to keep filling our TEAM with negativity.
It was a difficult decision to have this conversation because this particular staff member was headstrong, and I knew she would not take this conversation lightly. But, to my surprise, that did not happen. She was receptive and acknowledged her negativity and promised to have a more positive outlook. The risks of my decision could have been a confrontation, emotions, or dismissing the employee. The final impact was beneficial."
Your answer is very detailed and helpful. Nicely done!
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