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A week in the life of a Principal: Monday


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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