Day 181 fof 183) Saying goodbye/hello to a learning community
It’s always the weird part of the job, being a principal: the most unreliable person in the building. “We” know we can be moved ‘as needed’ and it’s one of the key reasons I know that some have not taken on the education leadership mantle. There are some rules as to “effectiveness” of a principal staying in one school for the same time….
….as @hargreavesBC once said to me when by luck he sat down next to me for lunch a few years ago….’probably should’ve gone last year”….it’s caused me a LOT of thinking and reflecting. When it comes to ‘change’, I’ve tended to support “his” guidelines
7 years if you’re at a calm and normal (do they exist??) school
5 years with notable change
3 years with significant change/chaos (I like these ones!)
(and it’s not that staying ‘past your expiration date’ means you do a bad job…it’s about increasing effectiveness)
I’ve finished year 4 at a school where we did some cool things:
- piloted eportfolios in place of report cards
- shifted school goals to needs (noticed a lot of anxiety & self regulation has been a key thing of ‘what we do’ – this acceptance has led me to being braver about sharing my learning via an upcoming TedEdx Talk and a conference presentation at Learning Forward
- explored outdoor learning (not just about hiking….so much more to being ‘out-of-doors’
- got iPads into our school district….sort of…a start at least (regret that we didn’t do more pushing in this area)
- being inclusive focused: experimenting with how to meet learner needs to maximize our supports (sounds better than ‘not enough support in our school’)
- coding & day of play (check out the work of @bedleybros for this)
- centers/play based learning for SO much – but especially in the gym….
- had some fabulous student teachers/teacher-candidates come through our door
- had some fabulous parents and community members enable us to do better each and every day as we work
So….some big change items in there (he says double checking the date on the calendar)
So while not easy to be telling my students I’m moving (still feel I have some things that I want to take further first) “shift happens” and change is good (albeit uncomfortable at times!) and I’m lucky enough to be changing locations to what has been described to me by quite a number of educators (and community members) since the announcement was made public, as ‘the jewel of the shuswap’ North Shuswap in Celista. I’m happy to be going to a school with such a fabulous reputation, and glad I have a positive connection with the principal I’m following (he was a guest coach while I was a student athlete at UBC).
I love the positive memories and learnings that I’ll be bringing forward to my next learning community (growth doesn’t just happen for the younger members of the learning community). And as music remains a key ‘trigger’ for me to connect with schools, I am happy to share that I am retiring my second song from our “month in review” music playlist. “Shut up and Dance” will always remind me of Sorrento Elementary and joins “Fireflies” as a song that is “too connected” with one school for me to play in further month-in-review-video compilations (something I’m looking forward to carrying forward at my next school….and with older students part of the K-8 mix turning over the video archiving of learning to the students!)
It’s always tricky – building relationships and then figure out how to leave them in a positive way. It’s valuable role modelling (though it can sting, as when I first left a school to become a VP in another district and one of my smarty-pants kids asked “do you get paid more as a VP?” which I confirmed, and then she dramatically declared “so you’re leaving us…..for the money?!?!” – she graduates this year….doing very well from what I have been able to hear) to show how to “move forward” without sabotaging friendships and relationships (because it is really easy to go away mad…..).
And the nice thing…..there’ll always be the ‘next principal’ on the way to help keep the learning community going…..same thing I get to do – make some new relationships in a new community! Hope they’re as accepting and supportive as the one I’m moving on from!
But…..there are some common fears when going to a new school (whatever your age)
- Will the others be friendly?
- Am I too different?
- Will they be too tough/rough?
- Will I get lost?
and…what are the ‘hidden rules of the school’?
The fun part of change is the exploring!!
Thank you to those who have been part of my past learning community (and hopefully continue!) and I’m looking forward to meeting those who are part of my next one!