August 31, 2012
It’s Friday night. Another busy week has just passed. A school council meeting, a trip down to the year 5/6 camp at Cottage by the Sea, a careers excursion to the costume department at the Arts Centre, a research circle for Play for Life and preparation for a local community festival this Sunday. This is just a sample of some of the things I do as a principal along with the usual admin, finance, communications and interactions.
The role of a principal in many ways feels like a parent. As a parent you look after your kids, their education, the rest of the family, your home, your garden, the bills, the shopping, the problems, the illnesses, the special events. As principal, you look after the kids and staff, the curriculum, the building, the grounds, the finances, the resources, the problems, the health and wellbeing, the special events and overall culture. Some days are good and things go smoothly, other times you need to give just a little more to overcome the hurdles or to juggle all the demands.
By Friday night I am pooped. Not pooped in a way that is worn down, but pooped in a way that requires time to stop and reflect. There are so many aspects to education, schooling and leadership that the quality time to reflect can be hijacked. Yet thinking time for me is key to good leadership. Without it the work can become reactionary and short lived.
Recently I took 3 weeks long service leave and travelled to Vietnam. It was a crucial time for me as it allowed me to purposefully stop and replenish. I did not need to think about the day to day of school life. My mind could be clear and uncluttered and ready for the next phase.
My principal role is certainly unfolding and I take my hat off to the men and women who have been in the role for much longer periods of time. I am constantly learning new things, building up my repertoire, adding to my skill set and realising that the more I learn, the less I know. The list is growing and can sometimes feel overwhelming. The hours creep into the nights, the weekends and the holidays.
But all of it is worth it and … I’m feeling more and more like a principal.