As the end of June approaches, I am starting to reflect on this past year with wonder: what worked; what didn’t; what’s next. These three questions have been used in my classroom for several years to assess how my teaching was progressing. Students would use these questions to guide their future practice in mathematics and Science. I tried to find a balance between keeping what’s working, either discarding or altering what didn’t work, and move forward. So I thought I would use these questions to reflect on this past year as a ‘new’ administrator.
Well, I guess my on-going professional development quest worked. Whether or not anyone read my blog posts is irrelevant. The act of writing allowed me to focus my attention around educational ideas that were at the forefront of my practice (I am not a fan of journalling, and just changing the name made it that much easier). It also allowed me to have a document of my learning and thoughts from throughout the year.
I also believe that I formed greater relationships with the staff at my school. Although there will always be those that feel I am not doing the right job, or made the right decision, I feel that I have connected well enough that most of the staff see me as improving in my roll. I am always asking for input and advice, but take the responsibilities of results of the decisions I make.
I also think that I have improved my questioning techniques when it comes to finding out how certain student incidents came about. Sometimes it feels like an interviewing of suspects, but by watching my admin team, I have found my balance between being too tough and being too soft. For me, it is all about building relationships with the students: I try to show that I care (which I do) and that no matter what choices a student made, we can bring about a successful conclusion where lessons are learnt, poor choices have consequences, but everyone deserves opportunities to grow from mistakes.
I think, in some cases, I need to be more supportive of the teachers in my school. Moving from the classroom to the office changed my perspective and thoughts on teachers. Not all teachers in general, just that small portion of teachers that might not be doing the very best that they could at certain times. When a teacher makes an error (such as during report periods, supervision, or even with some of the more mundane paperwork that is required), I need to use that time to help the teacher grow and become great. Re-reading Todd Whitaker’s What great principals do differently has opened my eyes that one of the most important parts of my job is to give teachers the space and support needed to become great.
Now, there are probably millions of things that I could do better, that didn’t quite work, but those day-to-day difficulties are met as a challenge for that time. I think working on supporting the teachers to do their great job in the classroom, providing professional development opportunities and educational leadership would be the main themes that I would like to improve next year (mostly because these areas didn’t really work as well as I had hoped this year).
Really, I want to be more reflective in the office, giving opportunities for building relationships with the students and teachers in the school, and create more time in the day to see teachers and students learning in different environments.
Really, I guess that I would be looking to Dave Burgess’ model of Teacher like a PIRATE…..although I would be “VEEP” like a PIRATE: not as catchy, but well worth the effort. Passion, Immersion, Rapport, Ask/Analyse, Transformation, and Enthusiasm.