This has been what I consider my biggest year yet professionally. To even try to describe briefly the personal and professional growth that I have experienced as a part of the SLT opening a new school feels impossible. This short post cannot even touch on the depth of growth and the challenges that we have faced this year.
I have been grateful for the fact that the school is still being built around us. It was very much a construction site when we gained access 4 days before opening and it has slowly opened up as different parts of the site are completed. We open to Years 5-8 next year when we fully open. The gym, DATs room and the music suite will be completed next April. This has helped me to form a great metaphor for this year. 2015 has been about building the foundations of our school. We have forced ourselves to really slow down and develop our collective beliefs about absolutely everything from the way that we communicate to our beliefs about assessment and our appraisal systems. Out of these beliefs, we've developed the principles and our practices. The latter will change as long as they reflect our beliefs. It is the beliefs that are building our school.
I have struggled with my role and to be honest I have experienced a certain amount of grief with the shift from pipeline 2 to pipeline 3. Moving out of the learning environment into a walking leadership role was hard to begin with. I felt that I was walking away from my passion for teaching and learning and working with children. Instead directing my energy into the children it is the mentors/teachers that I am now coaching. It has taken quite a bit of shift in my thinking to adapt to this role but I am finally finding my niche.
The fact that everything is new and a blank canvas for us to work on has been sometimes daunting but also empowering. It's not very often you do something for the first time everyday in a school and this has given us permission to really challenge what we have always done and rethink everything with one word - "WHY?"
The areas that I have really enjoyed rethinking include reporting which we are referring to as "Communicating Learning" and appraisal. I like the fact that we don't believe learning is an event that happens twice a year and that we are really challenging ourselves and our community to re-think what this can look like. The SPS teacher criteria that Helen and I worked on last year seem to fit with the environment that we are working in and link to the PRT. I wonder if others look back on their current reality and desired reality that they compiled in January as much as I do. Have we helped them enough to develop and work on their 3 bold steps to achieve their desired reality? How close are they to their desired reality? I am looking forward to reflecting on this process next term when we work together and reflect on our first year and our individual growth.
I have had some major revelations this year including the following:
- relationships are key and these take time in a new school. This has been our major investment this year at the expense of things that I might have thought were priority this time last year.
- don't make assumptions.
- we all arrive from a threshold that was our previous school.
- good communication is key - people speak in words but see in pictures.
Each of these revelations has been key to help me develop as a leader and find my way more securely into pipeline 3. I thought we would be further ahead with eLearning but to grow our collective capacity has required the development of the culture at our school. Relationships, communication, transparency and a collective vision are vital to our move forward.