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Is it still a thing?

January26

As I officially begin this week as Principal of Assumption College, one of the things most present in my thoughts is whether or not it is significant that I am the first female Principal of the school.  Since the College was lead by Marist Brothers for over 100 of it’s 112 year history, there’s no surprise that it’s taken this long for a female to be appointed!  My predecessor was the first lay (non-religious) Principal, so in terms of being in an era where both male and female leadership of the school was possible, the Governors have a perfect 50-50 track record.

Of course my leadership will be different from those who have gone before me – this would be the case irrespective of whomever was appointed.  Will it make a difference that I am female?  Well, let’s see (I imagine we could make a case for either end of the spectrum of that discussion!).

My gut feeling is that if we accept the premise that every leader is different, then gender is but one of many, many factors that make up how their leadership is experienced by the community.  Like my peers, my leadership approach has been formed by the inspiration and mentoring of many amazing men and women, and it will continue to be shaped by the people and experiences I encounter, and the reflections I have on those experiences.  I accept learnings of the neurologists and educational psychologists that our brain is constantly able to learn and adapt, and as such, approach leadership as an ongoing experience of development and improvement. I also respect the leadership literature that places relationships and trust at the centre of our work.   I won’t always get it right, but I will learn from those times, and constantly seek to ask what it is that our community needs me to be (which sometimes isn’t what it wants me to be).  I will be as courageous as possible in seeking to anticipate the needs of our students, and to work in collaboration with others to lead our community to a place where those needs are best met.  I see all of the above as both my professional and moral imperative.

Given that for much of its history, the school was a male single-sex College, there will undoubtedly be commentary from time to time about my gender, and the way that influences my leadership.  I know enough male Principals who exhibit what we traditionally call ‘female traits’ and female Principals whose leadership style reminds people of male leaders they have known.  I hope we are more nuanced by now to recognise that leadership comes in many guises, and incorporates skills and approaches that can be cultivated for a range of different situations. Effective leaders know their fundamental core, and which components of their leadership to amplify or diminish at the necessary times.

I look forward to sharing my ongoing leadership journey with you over the coming years.  I hope I can lead the community in such a way that our students and staff feel empowered and encouraged to grow their own leadership capabilities, and that together, we can continue to build a learning community that anticipates and meets our students’ needs, so that they can grow into the best version of themselves every day, and be engaged and engaging adults who serve their community with courage and joy.

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New beginnings…

January6

So I’m about a week away from starting a new phase of my career as Principal of Assumption College.  Happily, I appear to have reached that phase in the summer holidays when my mind has turned to towards work (probably induced a little this year by the new beginning, and the fact that I start a new Uni subject tomorrow & need to get some pre-reading done!).

I had a text this morning from a colleague who is also making a new start.  She mentioned feeling ‘sad and a tad lost…but I’ll get through it!’  How graced to hear the ‘in-betweenness’ acknowledged, even celebrated.  Leaving somewhere that you’ve grown and changed, laughed and cried, is hard.  We shouldn’t pretend that it isn’t, no matter how exciting the next chapter might be. And it takes a while to fall in love with a new place and a new people.  It should.  There should be a phase of disquiet, mourning even, to mark the end of important things and the gradual unfolding of warmth and affection for the new.

Blessings to all those ‘in-betweeners’, who, like me, are a big ball of excitement and anxiety at the moment.  May this phase bring new energies and insights that carry you into Term 1 with the best version of yourself fully present to all, and your heart attuned to everything inspirational and life-giving.

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EduTECH 2014

June1

Like many of you, I’m heading off to EduTECH this year with high expectations.  There’s another round of inspirational and challenging experts to be heard, but best of all, the potential of all those informal discussions that strike a chord and move our thinking one step closer to the utterly ambiguous notion of ’21st century learning’.

The challenge, I think, is not to get too caught up in all the shiny offerings in the Exhibition Hall (although it’s definitely a fun place to hang), but to chase down and open dialogue with others who are grappling with similar journeys of school improvement. Let’s face it, you can watch the keynotes online at any old time, but it’s the ‘meeting of the minds’ that makes a conference really valuable.There’s nothing better than hearing the learnings of someone who’s had a go at some wild initiative and  blundered through the disasters and tweaks that somehow lead to success.    These are the real voices of educational challenge…those living it, day in, day out. Don’t miss them in between the big names.

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Week in the life of a Principal

November16

G’day! If you’ve arrived at this Blog looking for the ‘Week in the life of a Principal’ Series, it might be a good idea to use the menu on the right of this page to read each of the days in order.  I started with a little intro on Sunday evening, and then blogged each day in turn.  A few things happened early in the week that influenced how the other days panned out, so reading them out of order could just increase the confusion.  Thanks for stopping by…and best wishes for a graced, smooth, stress-free run up to the Christmas break! Kate.

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A week in the life of a Principal: Friday

November16

7.30: After a quick catch up with Pastoral Wellbeing Leader (no big matters that we were aware of unfolding at school for the day…), settled in to go through the applications that we’ve had for previously advertised positions, to see if any of these are suitable to approach about our new openings (if you are starting with this Friday post, jump back to the Monday one and watch how our smugness about staffing for 2014 unravelled in the space of about three hours…). Also shot out an email to staff responsible for various budgets around the school to remind everyone that funds not yet expended required confirmation from the Business Manager before they would be released (this is to slow down any sense that just because there is money in the budget…it should be used!).  Every cent counts as we plan for renovations to be made over the Christmas holidays!

8.35am: On Friday mornings we gather as a staff in our beautiful heritage Chapel for meditation and/or prayer.  Today we used the pray-as-you-go website for 15 minutes of reflective quiet time.  We’ve been pausing quietly on Friday mornings for about two years now, and the feedback we get is that people really appreciate this time at the end of the week to pause and clear their mind.  There’s usually very little input, lots of quiet/and or gentle music and the golden rule is ‘no announcements about the day ahead’. The other App we use a bit is the ‘Smiling Mind’ meditation. Strongly reccommed it!

Once a fortnight, my PA has the day off.  On these days, as well as keeping an eye on my own emails, I log into her account and keep track of any that come through to the generic ‘principal’ address that might be important for me to deal with.

9am: Interviewed a graduate from two years ago who has applied to go along as a junior leader on our Year 11 Timor Leste Immersion next year.  We send four staff and two of these junior leaders, each of whom went as a Year 11 student themselves.  They are a great asset to our program. Also popped my head in on another ex-student who uses one of our meetings rooms to sit her exams for her online Masters.  This is her last subject, which is wonderful news for her.

9.30am: Quick meeting with a representative from one of our local Bowling Clubs.  To retain their Club status, they are obliged to donate a percentage of their profits to local community groups.  Each year they sponsor some key ‘scholarships’ that we offer to families who require financial assistance.  This meeting was just to touch base and make sure we have our paperwork in order for the upcoming round.

9.50am: Chai Latte delivered by our VCAL students to my desk. It’s a lovely treat during the morning (at a cost, of course…they’re running a business), but also gives me a chance to have a chat with the kids and see how their day is going.

10am: Interview number two for our Timor Leste Program.

10.30: Recess Time! Cuppa in the staffroom.

11am: Phone call conversation with a organisational consultant that are considering employing to work with the Catholic Principals in our Diocese (Region).  This was the first contact we had made with him, so we spent a good deal of time discussing where we were coming from and what our goals were for 2014.  Balancing the individual needs of each school against our collective goals requires good communication and a clear sense of what we are hoping to achieve.  I’ll report on this conversation at a meeting next week and get the consensus of the group about where to head from here.

11.30am: Meeting with our Head Maintenance worker and a builder that we are hoping to employ over the summer holidays to renovate some spaces around the school.  We were going over his quotes.  We have offered staff the opportunity to ‘Hot Desk’ in 2014, and as a result of this, are refurbishing several staff office areas to accommodate  both quiet spaces and collegial work spaces that are designed in a more flexible style that traditional office work space.  The furniture has been ordered, but we need some walls removed and more windows knocked through to ensure they are pleasant spaces to work.  There’s also a bit of work to be done removing walls between classrooms and replacing them with huge sliding glass doors.  We’ve used this very successfully in many areas of the school, creating spaces that can be either glass enclosed general classrooms or large open spaces.

11.50: Quick touch-base with two Leadership team members about staffing. We have some good ideas coming together around this.

12.05pm: Headed off to teach my Year 10 RE class.  With the Funeral Home unable to accommodate us today, we began work on our Major Assignment, which is for students to prepare a guidance booklet for a family about how to prepare a funeral (eg. suggestions about the funeral celebrations, things they should know about grief, what to expect in terms of costs etc). I spent most of the 75mins just answering their questions as they worked away. Our whole unit is developed on a Wiki, so they have a lot of the information and necessary links at their fingertips.  We use a program called “Teacher” which allows me to monitor each student’s screen throughout the lesson.  I put this up on the whiteboard, so wherever I was in the room, the kids know that I can see what they’re working on (or not, as the case may be!).

1.25pm: Lunchtime at my PAs desk, answering a few emails.

2pm: Interview with a recent Graduate for one of our Trainee positions in 2014.  Trainees undertake a Cert III in Education Support while they work in various areas of the school for a gap year (eg. in ICT, Library, Sport, attending camps and excursions as extra staff member).  It’s a great opportunity for those young people who need to earn some money before they go to University, and don’t want to waste the year on a check-out somewhere!

2.30pm: Spent an hour wrestling with the NAPLAN website trying to get copies of all the reports from this year’s data.  Need to spend some proper time over the weekend looking at the trends so that on Tuesday at our 2014 planning meeting, we have a clearer sense of our priorities.

3.30pm: Cleaned up the last few emails, including a few to parents about some overdue work that some of my students have and how I’ll be following that up. Prepared a couple of lengthier emails that will need to be sent first thing on Monday.  Took a quick phone call from a parent about something wonderful that had happened today for her child. Got together the information I needed to get a few things done on the weekend.

4.40pm: Walked out the door. Weekend…woohoo!

 

 

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A week in the life of a Principal: Thursday

November14

7.40: 10 minutes later arrival at school this morning because my nail polish just didn’t want to dry (yes, really!). Usual morning check in with Pastoral Wellbeing Leader, then pottered around catching up on some emails and getting documents ready for today’s meetings. Chased down a copy of a few books I want to re-read (Hattie’s one for teachers & Pink’s ‘Drive’).

8.10am Spoke on phone with our local MP about our Trade Training Centre Application to see if she could catch up with the relevant people in Canberra this week (while Parliament is sitting) and get us and indication of whether or not our application is progressing.

8.25am: Teaching loads were being distributed today, so had a quick look at the final documents before they went into pigeon holes.

8.35am: Morning briefing in staffroom. Announced the new House Leaders and celebrated in recent announcements of pregnancy for a couple of our staff members.

9.00am: I can’t actually remember anything that stands out from this half hour of the day.  Probably I pottered around between my desk, front Reception, my PAs desk and some random standing in hallways.  I have vague recollections of conversations about fundraising, water-bottles, our Newsletter…

9.30-Midday: Awesome meeting with Learning Leaders from 5 local Catholic schools.  We’ve been working together to improve our processes around providing meaningful feedback to teachers.  For the first year, we had a facilitator (the very wonderful Margaret Stewart) and now each school is building the program within their own school.  We touch base every term or so to offer support and share ideas.  It’s a real privilege to be part of this group.

12.15: Meeting with an ancillary staff member about their intentions for next year.

12.30: Organised my class for Friday (Funeral Home can’t take us this Friday, so we’ll reschedule to next week), and then spent some time with a Year 8 student who was involved in an altercation with another student at recess time.  Briefed one of the Leadership Team about what had happened and my response and he took up the running from there.

12.45: By now, teaching staff have found their teaching allocations for 2014, and happily, the first few emails I received regarding this were ones of delight!  A few others came in from staff who are hoping to negotiate a change…we’ll manage these over the next few days and weeks.

12.50: Popped over the library because I had agreed to help ‘cull’ some books from the Religious Education section of the non-fiction shelves.  Like a lot of other areas, a lot of our curriculum content is now available in electronic format, and many of the books bought in by-gone days have well and truly passed their prime.  Cathartic exercise…so maybe I’ll pop back over in another week or so to do another run through!

1.20pm: Had lunch in the staffroom with everyone else for the first time this week. Phew.

2.00pm: Prepared a Google form and sent and email out to our student leaders about some of the leadership training we intend doing with them over the next few weeks.

2.30pm: Meeting with our architect and builder to discuss the early stages of our building project.  With the TTC element still in the air, we have some big decisions to make about the best way to progress.  Conducted a walk around the site and looked at timelines.  In all likelihood, the builders will be on site within the next 2-3 weeks. In the interim, we have some portables to empty and some outdoor furniture to move. Can. Not. Wait.

3.15pm: Busted out of the meeting for 3 minutes to make an announcement to the school that today, we’d broken our ‘casual-day’ fundraising record and had gathered an amazing $3700+ to send to Caritas Australia for use in the Philippines Emergency. Busting with pride about this!

4pm: Rushed out to a meeting of the Committee for Echuca Moama (C4EM). This is a Committee that tries to work with local and State government to bring local projects to fruition. I’m a Community Member on the Board and it’s a great opportunity for me to hear and potentially involve the school in large local projects.  I enjoy hearing local business people sharing their dreams and plans for the region, and I genuinely think it helps me lead the school in a direction that is positive for both our students and for our wider community.

6ish: Home!

 

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A week in the life of a Principal: Wednesday

November13

7.30am: Quick chat with Pastoral Wellbeing Leader about the day ahead.  It’s lucky we’re both early-birds, because this short catch-up can often set the tone of a good part of the day!

Settled in to write the ‘front page of the Newsletter’.  I always start off thinking I’ve got nothing to say, and then end up having to cut back…it really is amazing how much happens around a school in one week!

Cleared out the emails and took a phone call from another Principal conducting a referee check for one of our staff. Approved the Christmas Card design (by one of our Year 9 students) and looked over some new photos for our website.

8.40am: Had a walk-in from a teacher who, for family reasons, is considering a move to another town.  Let the teacher know that whatever their decision, we’d support them and that I fully understand that this is a big decision that means a lot to them. The second they walk out the door, of course, I start to plan how that set of classes might be covered in 2014. Ugh (and again, don’t forget that we’ll be advertising in The Age this weekend!).

8.50am: Headed out to go and get my Year 10 class because this morning we were off on an excursion to the cemetery!  I teach one class each year, and this year it’s Year 10 Religion.  I teach a unit called ‘Dying and New Life’ which is based around the enquiry question ‘How can we have a good death’?  We study grief, statistics about death in Australia, planning for death, the role of hospices, the physiology of dying, beliefs about death (especially Christian ones) and how they comport the dying and support the grieving, funeral rituals, planning funerals, organ donation and pretty much anything else the students want to know about this topic.  The assessment task is for students to prepare a booklet for families to grab and use to plan for a funeral. It’s a great unit!  Today we were off to the cemetery to look at how they ‘work’ and what some of the landmarks and features are, the different choices people have around being buried in a cemetery etc.  This group were really interested and we an excellent time exploring, learning and ‘visiting the relatives’.

10.30am Back at school and five minutes to grab a cuppa before jumping online to Chair a meeting of a group of  teachers and leaders who act as a reference group for the development of an online Learning Management System for our (Catholic) sector.  Mostly I drive to Melbourne for these meetings, but every so often I just find it just too much to do a midweek roundtrip (it’s about 250kms, and in the early morning, I spend a lot of time paranoid about hitting kangaroos).  It was a productive meeting with about 5 of us online from around the State and another ten or so in an office in Melbourne.  Thank goodness for online audio-visual collaboration tools!

1.30pm Met with the students who had applied for House Leader positions and informed each candidate about whether they were successful or not.  Like most schools, we make a point of speaking to each candidate individually and if they ask for it, providing feedback about their application.

1.50pm: Dashed over for the last 10 minutes of lunchtime so that the staff knew I am actually alive. Got distracted by the rubbish in the yard and corralled about 40 kids into doing a clean-up.  Made it to the staffroom for a quick chat with a few teachers about house buying vs building.

2pm: Leadership Team meeting. The five of us build the agenda for this meeting collectively using a GoogleDoc.  On today’s Agenda: use of the TimeOut Room,  Mentors for our new staff in 2014, the final details of our Annual Action Plan planning day next week, and the reorganisation of the Year 11 and 10 exam period. Our meetings are fairly informal and we don’t take minutes.  We’re a productive team though, and tend to push each other to use our time effectively.

3pm: Met with two members of the Leadership team to discuss the potential shifts in teaching loads in light of the announcements of the last few days.  Checked the draft of the advertisement and sent it on to be lodged with the respective Careers websites etc.

3.45pm: Looked over the proposed timeline and cashflow for our new building project.  Started stepping out the implications for the school in terms of building usage (3 classrooms to be demolished to make way for the new building) for the remainder of the year. Checked that all was in order for the upcoming meetings this evening and that I was confident about the documents we were discussing; cleared a few emails.

5pm: Finance Meeting. Our monthly meeting,which includes four school staff, a representative of the Catholic Education Office and two representatives from our Governors, the Brigidine Association.  We monitor the cashflow, financial reporting and planning, building projects and oversee OH&S.

6.30pm; Dinner with our School Board (called our Stewardship Council).

7pm: Stewardship Council meeting.  Overseeing all aspects of school life and strategic planning.Tonight we had a number of the Council absent, so we spent some time going over some more generalised information for two newer members, and allowing them to ask all those questions about the operation of the school that they might not be keen to ask in front of the bigger group. It was a good opportunity to get to know these two people a little more.

8.15pm: Popped my head into a meeting for the parents of our Year 11 students who are participating in a solidarity visit to Timor Leste in July 2014.  Just caught the end of the meeting and was able to speak with a few parents briefly.  They seem as excited as their kids about the opportunity.  This is our fifth student immersion to Aileu in Timor Leste. We also have about a dozen staff go each year (during the Easter holidays).

Home…

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A week in the life of a Principal: Tuesday

November12

OK, so it was raining this morning and I didn’t get up for a run. See the flow-on effect of that later this evening…

7.30am: Arrived & caught with with Pastoral Wellbeing Leader.  Main issues today around some kids whose behaviour had been less than stellar yesterday.  Decided on appropriate action, mostly centred around empowering and supporting teachers to manage the situation, rather than stepping in and ‘solving’ the matter for them.

Tuesday mornings are great for me. We don’t have a full staff briefing (teachers are meeting in the Year-Level Groups), so I’m free to settle in, put my head down and get some desk-work done.  Did I mention I have a stand-up desk?  Usually I can make it through until lunchtime without needing to adjust it to sitting height (although sometimes, if I’m wearing my high, high heels, it happens a little earlier!)  Today I spent time reading a document about the sexual abuse crisis and the Victorian Catholic Church. With the Church being implicated in so many terrible situations of abuse, Principals in Catholic Schools receive frequent PD about professional standards, as well as being kept informed about how protocols within the Parishes, Dioceses and other Church agencies are developing.

I also responded to some emails from overnight (requests for PD, a suggestion about fundraising for the Philippines, question about propagating some saplings from one of our historic trees, School Captains about function later in the day, negotiating best time to announce new House Leader positions, question from a new Principal that I’m helping to mentor,  followed through with a consultant regarding PD for the Principals in our region in 2014 , and got my head around the new structures for registering early career teachers through the online Victorian Institute of Teaching website.

10.10am: Walked calmly to front reception to report in as a ‘warden’ for our Emergency Drill.  Today we simulated an area of the school flooding (we’re situated smack bang between two rivers, each about 150m from our front and back fences) and there have a been a few close calls in recent years. So happy to be able to take a back seat and watch our staff swing into action and deal with the ’emergency’. I was completely superfluous. Fantastic!

10.25: Headed to morning tea and sat with one of our staff who had a rough day yesterday.  She was in good spirits, and just needed to discuss where things are now at.  Due to the Emergency drill, I had missed an appointment with one of our teachers, who caught me at the end of morning tea (by the fridge) to let me know she’s pregnant.  Happy dance!  Brain quickly turns to how we’re going to cover that in 2014!

10.50: Spent some time annoying our Business Manager about our new arrangements for the sale of the school uniform (we’ve moved the Uniform Shop off-site), met with our Catholic Identity Leader about staffing for an upcoming Youth Festival and how things were going in preparation for next week’s Graduation Mass, emailed a prospective parent about enrolments for 2014 (they’re late with their application), had a phone conversation with a colleague Principal about the agenda for an upcoming meeting, and the couple of items I need to prepare for discussion/presentation. Played ‘phone-tag’ with another Principal about a Referee request.  If you added up how much time Principals spend at this time of year (employment time) playing phone-tag with each other…

11.40: Met four Year 11 students in Reception to walk down to a local venue for lunch with local employers and the other local schools.  Our Local Learning Employment Network (LLEN) run a terrific program called ‘School Friendly Businesses’.  This luncheon, hosted by SFB was about Gap Year Students.  The Principal from the local Secondary College and myself spoke about the benefits of a Gap Year, and then some local employers and some local young adults who had taken Gap Years spoke of their experiences. Great event. Slick organisation and great opportunity to network with local businesses.

2pm: Had an meeting with one of our First-Year teachers to go through her application for Full Registration as a teacher (all new teachers are ‘provisionally registered’ until they have been through this process).  She put together an awesome Weebly to demonstrate her learnings and achievements this year. The new process for Registration involves the graduate teacher undertaking some action research around an Inquiry Question.  This teacher had focussed on differentiation and catering for individual needs…really inspirational work!

2.30pm: Signed a stack of letters going out to parents/guardians about upcoming excursions (tweaked the phrasing of some).  Worked with one of my Leadership Team on getting the teaching advertisement ready for this Saturday’s Age. Made some quick changes to our website to reflect this (more coming in the next day or so!). Had chat with our brilliant staff in Reception and brainstormed about the new school water-bottles (in House Colours!); spoke with my PA about preparations for tomorrow’s meetings.

3.30pm Briefly stopped in a Staff PD session on ‘Koori Cultural Education’. Great roll-up for this voluntary session and I was sorry not to be able to stay – they had some cool new Board Games that looked like they were going to be a great resource for both staff and students.

3.45pm: Ran into a parent whilst trying to leave the College.  Quick chat about her daughter’s traineeship and whether we can help her finish Year 10 whilst she does Trade School and her work placement.  Pretty sure we can, it will just require someone to oversee the work she needs to complete. Mum seemed happy with that outcome.

4pm: Attended a VCAA session on  ‘Interpreting Your NAPLAN Data’ at one of our local Clubs (very strange to walk through a pokie area on your way to a meeting about assessment), that included an overview of the new features available to us to assist with analysing data. Productive session & great to be at this with staff from other local schools – we don’t get to share a lot of PD, and it’s good to be reminded that we’re all working for and with the same families!

6pm: Squeezed in that 30 minute run I should have done this morning.  Is anyone else using the ‘Zombies, Run’ App – it’s FUN! (And I should own up at this point that I have a perfectly good treadmill in a very dry room in my house, so that excuse earlier about not running in the rain this morning was really pretty pathetic!)

7.30pm: Catholic School Principal = ex-officio member of the local Parish Pastoral Council. Meeting this evening discussed upcoming AGM, preparations for Advent and an event we’re holding in a few weeks.

Tomorrow is a big day of meetings & I’ll probably be talking scribble by the end of it, so stay tuned for the next exciting adventure…

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A week in the life of a Principal: Monday

November11

7.30am: Arrived at school.  This is my usual start time, and most mornings I resist the urge to skip some morning exercise and come in a little earlier.  Any attempts at afternoon exercise usually get guzumped by unplanned events/tiredness/the usual excuses, which, like everyone else, I learnt the hard, expensive (new wardrobe to fit expanding figure) way.

7.35am: Morning chat with my Student Wellbeing Leaders about what’s coming up today and which staff and students might need our attention. Key focus was around the House Leader application process for students, which was continuing today with student speeches and interviews.  Spent next 30 mins emailing key staff and students and ensuring that resources were basically in place for these to occur.

8am: Got onto the emails that accumulated over the weekend. I try not to send emails over the weekend (but have a whole lot sitting in the draft folder ready to push out when I get to work). My PA arrives at 8am and we usually have a little catch-up before getting down to business.  It takes her about 10 minutes to go through her emails and pass the ones on to me that need attention.

8.15am: Took a phone call from a teacher who had verbally accepted an offer we had made to teach here next year.  He’s been offered a higher  position elsewhere and decided to take that instead.  Aaargghh.  Disappointed that he didn’t tell us he had another iron in the fire (it’s been about six weeks since he told us he’d take our job!), but took a few deep breaths and started thinking about the best way forward.

8.30am: Headed off to staff briefing.  Spoke with staff about the Typhoon over the weekend, and how it hit the area that our students go to for their Schoolies Social Justice Immersion (Cebu).  Let staff  know I would be emailing around the link for Caritas Australia’s donation site.  Also informed staff that we have appointed a builder for our big building project which will commence within the months (gym and 3 GPLAs).  Excitement all round that things are finally getting underway!

9.10am: Leadership Team members responsible for staffing come by so we can talk about how to proceed with filling the position that is now vacant (House Leader and Maths teachers if you know anyone who is interested!).  Went through the files we have on people who’ve applied for positions in the past to see if there’s anyone suitable. Have decided to advertise (keep an eye on this Saturday’s Age!)

9.30am: Met with our Business Manager to go over the new EBA and pay increments and how these will be rolled out. Also discussed where staffing was at, especially that we haven’t had as many Year 12 students apply to complete their Gap Year with us, which is good news, because it means the students have jobs and study already lined up! Tried to think of some ways to cover the roles that these students have done for us in previous years.

10am: Meeting with five senior staff about transition processes for next year’s Year 7s. Planned parent night, Year 6 transition day, testing and how to put the students into classes for 2014.  We have a new House system coming in, so the old processes will not be adequate.

10.15am: Best bit of the morning – our VCAL students run a Coffee business at school and they brought me a Chai Latte in the middle of the meeting. Bless.

10.45: Our big building project still has quite a few loose ends that need to be tied up. Made a series of phone calls and sent emails to various peak bodies, politicians and system leaders to see if we could bring things together a little more smoothly.  Not expecting a lot of joy from this, but won’t give up!

11am: Paused for Remembrance Day service, prepared by Year 11 students.

11-12pm: Dealt with the emails that had come in since this morning: mostly staff enquiries & RSVPs. One email was from a student, informing me that he’d noticed some cracks in one of the staircases (with accompanying photos from his iphone)!  Forwarded this on to our Grounds Manager and asked for it to be followed up immediately. Emailed student to say thanks for being so observant! Read through the application letters of the students applying to be House Leader of Nicholls House, which is the House I’m a member of.  It’s named for Pastor Sir Douglas Nicholls, and many of the students wrote beautiful tributes to him, explaining why they see him as an ideal patron for our House. Great stuff!

12pm: Joined with the staff and students of Nicholls House to hear the prospective student leaders pitch their speeches.  Oversaw the vote and then assisted the House Leader in conducting interviews with the students.  Checked in to see how the other five Houses were going in choosing their Leader (we all use the same process). Rejoiced that we have such great kids willing to serve their school community in this way. One of our new staff members for 2014 came in to be part of this process. Spent some time with him at the end of it all going through some key preparations for next year and checking his teaching load for 2014.

1.45pm: Lunch, standing at my desk. Emailed staff with the information about when they will receive their bonus, back pay and move onto new level with the new EBA.

2pm: Did a quick lap of the school to see what’s happening. Weather was pretty crazy today (wind and rain), which often means the kids are a bit restless in the afternoon. All quiet on the Western Front.  Was briefed about an incident with a student physically pushing past a teacher that will need to be followed up tomorrow. Checked in with the cracked stair matter.  Apparently our groundsmen hadn’t noticed that step before (it’s around the back of the school and rarely used) but now have it under control. We have a mason coming it to fix some cracked marble in the Chapel (that’s another story!), so we’re going to get him to look over these stairs and see what we can do to limit the damage and ensure safety.

2.30pm: Meeting with one of our staff about his load for 2014 and beyond.  We have changed all our Positions of Leadership for 2014, and there are some new roles in the picture which will develop as the year unfolds.  His is one of these, so we had a talk about how we might approach things for the start of the year, and how we might keep an eye on how things are progressing. He’s going to be dealing with much more confidential information than he’s been used to, so we spoke about that too.

3pm: Started going over my list of things that need to be organised before we finish up this year. Got side tracked by some furniture orders and some other paraphernalia needed for our new House Structures.

3.30pm: Headed off with the staff to our annual Emergency Management Training.  An external company look after this for us & do a great job of keeping our resources and responses current. I think the lady running the session was a little put out that some people were enjoying the dangerous scenarios a little too much – but we all had fun and learnt some new things. I suspect there will be a drill tomorrow to put our new learnings into practice.

4.45pm: Back to the desk to finish off the last few emails.  Business Manager rang to confirm that the last portion of our funding for 2013 has been released, so now we can get serious about planning for the renovations that need to take place to staffing areas over summer (we’re moving to a hot-desk arrangement and need to expand our staff break area).

5.30pm: Sat down to write this blog. This is my only night without a meeting this week, so I’m going to make the most of it!

Let’s do it all again tomorrow!

 

 

 

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A week in the life of a Principal

November10

So, it’s Sunday afternoon, and I’m perusing my calendar for the week ahead.  It’s got everything…meetings (face to face and online), assemblies, staff employment matters, building plans, a luncheon, a cemetery visit, classes, evening events…you name it, it’s happening this week!  And that’s before I even catch up with a student or teacher tomorrow morning.

A few weeks ago, I had a non-teacher type follow me around for a brief part of the day (about 45 minutes).  At the end of it, he commented how he couldn’t get over how many ‘gear-changes’ I’d made during that period.  He was referring to the people I had spoken to, the topics we discussed, the things I had read/perused/commented on and all the incidental things that happened in between. My PA and I stared at him blankly…we weren’t even trying to go fast!  Just out of interest (for myself, as much as anyone else), I’m going to have a go at blogging the week.  I’ll try my best to explain how each day was intended to go, and then go on to cover what else happened as each day unwound. Wish me luck.

Oh, and if you’d like to join me, let’s use #prinblog

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