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Have you got a minute?

So…..  It’s been a while between blog post and, as always, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since I last wrote.

The short story is that I switched schools (again!) mid way through last year to take on an Acting Assistant Principal role and at the beginning of term 2 this year, I was successful in obtaining the substantive role.

The question I have been asked the most often is along the lines of if I like the change; if I prefer one role over the other or if I miss the classroom. I find this a really difficult question to answer as the work and the role is so different.

One of the biggest challenges has been managing my time. As a classroom teacher in a primary school environment, my day followed a fairly standard routine. Reading would happen in the morning, Maths would be after recess….

Even as a leading teacher, I would make a list of tasks and jobs I would want to get done that day, find a space to work and get them done.

Switching into the Assistant Principal role, this recent video in the Leadership Scenarios series from AITSL really resonated with me.

So much of my work is reactionary.

“This teacher has called in sick.”

“The pipe inside the toilet has burst.”

“This parent wants to talk about an issue.”

I used to be a big believer in having an ‘open-door’ policy; that being accessible was important in building a sense of trust. But I am beginning to shift in my thinking towards this and
reconsider what this may look like practically.

I’m also conscious that often when I make an appointment, I get interrupted with a student issue or something that needs immediate attention. This seems disrespectful to the person who has set aside time to see me.

I also find that my calendar gets full with meetings. There are some days where I can bounce from meeting to meeting to meeting, often without a break in between. I feel like I walk out with my head full,

E-mail and incoming paperwork also takes a huge chunk of time. I’m a big fan of David Allen’s work around Getting Things Done but I seem to spend the bulk of my time getting ‘in to empty’.

I don’t have time at the moment for ‘deep work’; for working on tasks and projects that are meaningful and will drive school improvement.

So…. What am I doing to fix it?

I’ve started to track my work each day by making note of the time I start something and when I finish it.  It was interesting to reflect on the number of ‘interuptions’ to my work and the length of time it took to complete some tasks. A report that I started at 9am didn’t get finished until 3pm simply due to other tasks that interupted the work flow. I have a feeling that most of my day is spent doing administrative tasks and responding to student behaviour and welfare issues but I want to get some qualitative data that supports this. (I’m working on a seperate blog post that explains my workflow for this)

I’ve also been tracking my energy levels throughout the day. Each time I start a new task, I give myself a score between 1-5. 3 is a good average score; anything above and I am in the zone. Anything below a 3 means my focus and attention is fading fast.

I’ve also made a point of tracking small gratitudes each day as it’s often so easy to get caught up in the administrative side of things. Most of them relate to students who have made
achievements or staff who have worked with students to create these achievements.

Finally, I’ve recently signed up for leadership coaching and am keen to work with my new coach on how I can make improvements in this area.

Hopefully I’ll have more to share with you as I go through this process of change and learning… when I get a minute!

My Ideal Learning Space

Put together a design brief for a new learning space.

I approached this task like stream of consciousness, so I brainstormed all of the items I would like in my ideal learning space. So, in no particular order…

  • Spaces and furniture that reflect the different ways people learn – Quiet spaces, Spaces for performing. Spaces to cook, Spaces to work on my own, with a partner (cafe style), in groups, in front of others, standing up, sitting down, lying down. Spaces that allows me to be in the outdoors.
  • Space for displays. Whiteboards, TV Screens, Monitors, Noticeboards…
  • Space for Storage – concrete materials, models and constructions all take up space and need somewhere to live.
  • Readily available access to a range technology
  • Sustainable – uses renewable energy sources. Supports recycling. environmental friendly design.
  • A workspace for teachers – to be with my colleagues. (I spent a lot of time considering this one.
  • Space for things that are fun – ball pit, a slide, a tree house

Whilst the space is important, the quality of the teaching and the learning inside the space is what really counts.

This post is the ninth in a series as part of the #youredustory challenge. For more information visit their website.

 

Why teach?

What was the defining moment you decided to be a teacher?

“Blackboard” by Photo by M. Rehemtulla – Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

I just knew.

From the age of about six, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. I would ‘play school’ at any opportunity. I would mark my pretend roll , write up ‘work’ on my little chalkboard with my toys or any friends being my students. I would mark their work with red ticks and crosses and write encouraging words of feedback on their sheets.

As I got older and experienced different teachers throughout my own education, there were plenty that inspired me.

Had it not have been for some great teachers who something in me; who gave their time freely to support what I wanted to do; who coached, mentored and guided me through the process,  I would not be the person I am today.

It’s my hope that I can provide the same opportunities for my students. That I can pay forward the experiences and the lessons I have learnt.

This post is the seventh in a series as part of the #youredustory challenge. For more information visit their website.