A new adventure

My work life took a new direction throughout 2014 which changed the goals I had initially set for this blog and my teaching in that time. Now I am embarking on a new phase, a promotion and a set of challenges I hadn’t expected to be facing this time last year. Now I am a learning teacher leading other learning teachers.
One of my goals for this year is to journal my development as a leader and the story of my school. The fact that my promotion is internal means the chronicling of this story has a different perspective from that of an outsider. For this reason, I hope to also include the perspectives and feedback of others. One of those people will be our new Principal.
We’ve just finished a week of staff days and I needed the weekend to regroup and refresh. Immediately, I am living the challenges of a position of responsibility. My school is independent, co-educational, low-fee, Anglican and Preschool to Year 12. It has many facets that pull me in different directions.
What have I discovered or had clarified already?
➡️I will need to manage my ‘open door’ policy. I firmly believe I need to be accessible to staff and they need to feel that I am here to support them. However, in one week I have seen how what I need to get done takes a backseat to solving immediate problems. I need to strike a balance and to empower others to find solutions and lead by example.
➡️I need to give myself space to try and to fail. This is something I espouse in others, yet I can see that I am already putting too much pressure on myself to get it all right, all of the time. It’s an unrealistic goal. I am currently working with Executive with years of experience. I need to embrace my fresh eyes and do things my own way, one step at a time.
➡️It is a strange feeling to be yourself yet know that the role you have does define how others see you. I feel like me, I assume others see the ‘me’ my friends and family know but that is not the case. Bridging the gap and defining the gap is a challenge of leadership I intend to pursue day-to-day and in this journal. To be able to inspire others and facilitate opportunities is an important facet of my role but so too is the flip side. The status, or power, which comes with the privilege of my role can never be taken lightly. This probably explains why I am currently living in a state of permanent anxiety! I know this will settle as I get to live the role over time but I must never forget the feeling of these first days. I am excited and daunted simultaneously. Being daunted by my who I am in this role is something others live when I interact with them.
➡️My school is a new a phase. It is in its seventeenth year and its growth is exciting. Our new Principal has restructured the College Leadership Team to include my position. As Director of College Improvement, I have a wide range of responsibilities. The notion of improvement sits well with this new phase we are in. What are we doing well? What do we need to improve? What new ventures do we now need to undertake? What’s lacking? One of the areas we most need to work on is culture. This encompasses so much but I can already see week in, how vital this is and how big this task may be. One step at a time…
➡️Learning is at the heart of what I do every day. This week I have learnt about staff, their roles, their concerns and the challenges they face each day. I have learnt very quickly that there isn’t always a simple solution. The resilience of our staff has been affirmed for me. What I need to do as a leader is to keep celebrating traits such as this, yet also to find ways to ensure we evolve by reducing some of the issues that require resilience.
➡️Reflecting on what I have learnt about leadership from our new Principal, I see the value in a mantra – a clear, concise vision statement to enact everyday. We are using ‘On Track, On Time, On Task’. My fellow Deputy, Director of Academics, is using ‘Quality Teaching, Quality Planning, Quality Feedback’ with the academic staff. I have also learnt about the power of rhetoric and it’s potential to take others with you on the journey you have mapped. A statement which has resonated with me is to be a ‘Promoter of Possibility’. I love words and metaphor (I am an English and Drama teacher, after all) and I am looking forward to seeing how our rhetoric makes a difference. The challenge will be to execute it!
➡️Finally, what I have written about in this post is only the tip of the iceberg. It is a suitable metaphor for how I am feeling in my new role and for how my week has unfolded. I cannot possibly see the whole picture yet, nor articulate it in one piece of writing. What I shall endeavour to do is to find the time, drive and energy to chip away at the mass slowly but surely.


About Tamara Powell

I'm a teacher embarking on the new role of Deputy Principal in 2015 at an independent, co-educational school. I am a full-time working mum of two. I love learning, I love reading and I love seeing my peers and my students engaged and inspired.
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