My learning Journey

This year the Board gave me a couple of road trips for my Professional development.

The first one was a road trip with the Waikato Principals to Christchurch to see the schools in action, especially after the earthquakes and the rebuild that is now currently happening.

The trip is also a good way to touch base with other principals and network with them – in my case asking questions that I am unsure where to go next. In particularly the school painting that is set aside for 2016 and where to find the money!

On reflection what did I learn from the trip?
What will I begin doing??
* definitely the curriculum development- Halswell school in Christchurch stood out in this area for me. Everywhere we went the curriculum acronym was displayed and referred too. It was a great place to jump start NVS into something!
*I love the feeling at Halswell. At the principal conference in 2014, Nigel Latta spoke about the principal setting the tone of the school. At Halswell this is evident. His philosophy and easy going nature, love for the staff, children and community was really evident. You could feel it.
*I found a new programme – again Halswell- that the junior school could begin using- Daily 5 and cafe. 
*I learnt that if we open up the class (MLE) its going to work if the teachers in the class have a collaborative approach. Working side by side will work; but they need a good understanding of each other and where they are going.
* I definitely need to meet with Scott more. If Maika wasn’t leaving I needed him to be there too. Meeting and carrying the load and bouncing ideas around before presenting them to the staff is something we need to do on a more regular basis. Often the young ones take our time….but this is important.
*definitely keep up the walk throughs and chats (more feedback on my part). I think it’s important I am seen in the class and I am aware of what is happening. It’s all Ok having these new MLE but to me…still need to check how teachers are teaching and what they are teaching. At one of the schools I noticed a young teacher who stayed in one place juggling a rugby ball whilst the teacher aide raced from one child to the next! It’s easy for me to be critical….but 
* definitely need a vision and direction of where you are going. This is so driven by the principal and making sure it remains in front of why they are doing what they are doing, and asking the teachers to do what they do, and the board  etc. It became evident schools that had lost their way for the sake of a bigger and brighter school. Lost almost just to show a model …….Halswell had definitely kept their vision through everything.
*one principal we spoke too had researched quite a bit about their MLE and the philosophy. He was truly experienced in this area and it came across. I guess it came down to evidence for doing what he was doing. Having evidence to support his direction. Being well read! Thus, he was able to convince his staff, board and community about the philosophy for doing what he saw was their vision for their school.
* at the last school the principal had done some great PD with his staff. The videos on his school website were really good. The topics were mostly around teaching and the sort of philosophy he wanted the staff to portray. Their school was heavily into the discovery model just withdrawing children whilst they did discovery time.
*I must open and encourage our library to be open at lunch. We have an amazing library but I feel its under utilised.
* I meet one principal who does a CARE programme- environmental studies – the children are in electives and rotate around….making bricks from shredded paper; gardening; learning about their environment; making compost; worm farming. Needless to say we have begun to put something similar in the school- one day week.
* our last school had a coffee shop on site! What a great way for parents to mix and mingle, leave out reminders and notices. One day!

What did I want to toss out or not begin?
* There were a few areas that I really didn’t like….I think it’s keeping what we are doing but consulting, reflecting, checking in along the way.

When I began this journey into principalship…I needed to go alone. The change that needed to happen wasn’t going to happen if I wasn’t stubborn and single minded; I know that sounds awful. I couldn’t consult overly with the staff. They weren’t interested in a change…they were Okay staying doing what they were doing. Comfortable. 
But it wasn’t okay for the children. Learning wasn’t happening.Back then,I felt the school philosophy was about teachers and their welfare not the children’s. Change had to happen.
Now….its different. the vision and philosophy is there….these road trips remind me both of the past and where I have been, and the possibilities for where we could be in the  future!