Sunday, June 19, 2011
Be honest, never make a decision before you need to, read (and discuss) widely.
These are some gems of advice I've received recently, as I transition from vice-principal to principal over the summer. I've enjoyed reminiscing about the past few years and the experiences I've garnered as a new admin. It was fun and exciting being in the middle of such tumultuous change. I took on my first v.p. job part way through a school year, in the middle of a master's degree, and with a young family in tow. I learned some of the parts of my new role (data collection, supervision of instruction, building management) while also learning how to play ukulele and master various forms of puppetry (Fine Arts teacher). I took on the annual Christmas Concert, taught English as a Second Language/Dialect, led a book study, brewed coffee and shoveled walkways. I loved the "many hats" nature of my job and the ability to work with all students and staff in the school.
When I moved schools last September, the task was to help open a new school -- 700 students from three closing schools coming together into one dual track, K-7 elementary school. We offer a band program, choir, a variety of sports options, Hockey Academy, figure skating, wood shop, Fine Arts specialties and more. We are close to local downhill mountain biking trails and many field trips capitalise on this opportunity. We share our building with a daycare and preschool business, as well as a Strong Start facility. To say this last year was complex is the understatement of the year!
As I prepare for another move and the transition to my first principalship, I am feeling excited and not a little nervous. I will be in two schools, both small and rural. They are very well resourced and have excellent teaching and support staff. I think the piece that keeps gnawing at me is how to "keep it simple" in the face of such complexity. I will do my best to keep the simple goals in the forefront of my mind, and to make good use of my PLN. I'll continue reading the great blogs out there (thanks to @justintarte, @hatcherelli and @jvincentsen) and tackle a few more professional reads over the summer. Most of all, I'll be taking some time to reduce the volume, reduce the complexity, and enjoy some rest time. Sometimes the best preparation is taking time to relax!
Sunday, June 12, 2011
I will be a vice principal for a few more days. Then I will begin to wrap up this part of my career, and look forward to a new stage. I've spent so many days working on becoming an administrator, and a few years as a vice principal learning from my colleagues. It feels strange to be moving to a new school and taking on this new role.
I am keenly aware of the need to continue learning from the students and teachers I work most closely with, and to cultivate a growth mindset in my interactions with other colleagues. I think what is affecting me most profoundly is this fresh opportunity to recreate myself, to reinvest with purpose in my growth as a learner and a leader.
I am very excited to close out my school year with another visit to UBC to participate in the annual Short Course. I think it will be an excellent way to refuel after an exciting (but exhausting) school year. I look forward to making new connections and catching up with friends. I know I will come away with new eyes and fresh ideas.
I am interested to hear from others what works for them when they transition into new roles, as leaders and learners. I am eager to learn about the cultures at my new schools (2 rural schools), and find my niche with my new colleagues. If you have any suggestions or ideas, any and all feedback is welcome.