We started semester 2 today and so we are officially just past the halfway point of the academic school year; a perfect time to reflect a bit on the year so far and to look forward to things to come and to make some plans for what we can accomplish going forward. But let’s not just go through things. Let’s approach this like the Oscars and talk about award winners….
Most Surprising Development
I did not anticipate that the Third Teacher would take off the way it has with my staff. I guess there was some pre-conceived notions here including that secondary school teachers would not be all that interested in their classroom space because everyone shares their room with other people. Most people have the opinion that this is an elementary focus but my staff has blown me away with how much they are into it. I honestly put it out there to see what the reaction would be and people have really ran with it. Speaks to what I have talked about before that teachers are “practical academics” and so want to spend time and energy thinking about things and discussing ideas, but they have to be able to do something with it in the end.
Best Supporting Actors and Actresses
There are so many amazing people in our building but I have to say that I have been blown away by the work that our EAs and CYWs do with the mos needy and vulnerable members of our community. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that our board has had to take a serious look at the way they are spending their special needs money and so there have been some cuts to deal with, or perhaps the added responsibilities of my new role have opened my eyes, but to see what they have to deal with and HOW they deal with it is spectacular. They have a thankless job, literally as their kids will never be able to thank them in any of the traditional ways, but they do their job with dignity and respect. Truly heroic!
Most Proud Moment
This is a tough one but to see how people rise to a challenge is something to cherish and to take notice of. As I reflect on my leadership development I know that I can be a tough person to work with or for. I have a hard time with patience and some times I know that I am starting too many things and that I am pushing people more than they are used to. I have not had anyone tell me to slow down or lay off yet, (though I wonder what good that would do), and in fact I have people now challenging me! People coming to me with ideas about what they want to try in their classrooms or how they think their department model should change. I have people calling me on my spending in that they are asking for things that make real sense and that are in line with the work that we are doing. Great stuff in spite of my hectic pace. (I will reflect on this pace at the end so stay tuned!!)
Most Disappointing Moment
This one is tough too because I see so many things as works in progress so if there we are not at the point I would like then it just means that we need to focus here. I am a bit concerned about some reactions we have received recently in regards to some of the room changes that we had to make for semester 2. This is going to sound a bit hard line but I tire easily of complaining especially when there is not a student need attached to it. We have to work on making our portables more conducive to learning and that basically means getting them networked and wireless. This is a huge undertaking that the board is happily going to do this year so I can understand a teacher’s desire to get inside the building IF they are looking at using web based technology in their teaching. I mean if we keep talking about this stuff then we need to make it happen. My issue comes when people think that they deserve to be inside because of the amount of time they have been employed by the board. Again this is going to sound intense, but classrooms are for student needs, not teachers! If there is a health concern then of course it will be addressed but if it is for convenience then rooms need to be addressed based on learning need. We have science labs, music rooms, gymnasiums and woodshops that are for a purpose and so we need to look at how we use our space for the work and development of students. We tried to accommodate some requests but the spirit of those requests do get under my skin (just being honest!)
Most Anticipated Moments
It is weird to think that we have only got through half the year thus far and that there is still as much time before us as behind but there are some things that I am anticipating. We have our SSLN coming up which will focus on The Third Teacher and that is something that I am looking forward to. I want to get into a real conversation with my staff and those of some of our elementary counterparts about what we can do with our learning spaces and to make some firm plans for how things will evolve over the coming years. Beyond that though I still have an eye on the larger community of education. I am focussed on what we are doing at our school but I think all professionals have to consider their profession and if you don’t have a larger view of things, if you only think local, then you are not making changes necessary for real evolution. I want to see the model change on a large scale and I think this is a step in that direction.
I am also looking forward to our District Review. Sounds weird to think that a review is something to look forward to but I am genuinely proud of what we have done thus far and what was accomplished for 29 years before I got here. This is a great place that is something of a mystery to the rest of the board. We are seen by a lot of people as that big school way off in the far east and I look forward to having people learn from us. I am also interested in the impartial eye taking a look at our work and listening to what they have to say about it. What will they see and what will they think about the learning and the work that happens. Will they see what is really there? What will be their feedback and then how will myself and the staff react to that feedback? What will we do with it? Great stuff!
Most Honest Reflection
The idea of real honesty about self is something that has come about since I started writing this blog and while it is a tough thing to face at times it has been so beneficial to my work. I said earlier that I would reflect on my lack of patience. I have had to unpack that a bit recently and I think it comes from the fact that I have been rather restless for my entire time since I started my admin career. I was never like that when I was a teacher. That is not entirely accurate as I was always looking for new things to try and new ways to approach learning, but I was settled in where I was. I LOVED teaching at Mary Ward. I say that and it sounds like so many other people when they say how they love their job but it must be different for me. I can honestly say that that school, and that style of learning and teaching was so perfect for me that it was truly gut-wrenching when I was moved. It was a very traumatic experience for me and I think I became something of a nomad. All administration is like that in that you have to be because you know that you are eventually going to move on. I guess it was a defence mechanism and will always be but I have to get over it. I was approaching the last couple years of my career as one year placements. If I wanted to accomplish things I felt that I had one year to do it and then I would move on. I never had the plan or the intention to move, but it was just a feeling.
My own struggle with patience will have to evolve with the understanding that not everything can or should happen now. I need to get much better at long term planning and with setting out expectations and plans that last longer than the calendar on the wall. That may be the best part of the principal job. I am pretty sure that I am here for a good bit of time. I have no design, (or qualifications) to make the next move to SO and I am pretty sure that the board will keep me where I am for at least 4-6 years. That means that there is time for things to develop and for work to be done.
Well it has been just over 5 months, what’s next???