Thursday, May 30, 2013

Taking time to reflect

This week I've had the privilege of spending two days in Christchurch as part of a Principal learning team that I'm part of. Our team have been meeting together once a term for the last 3 years. We spend time in each others schools where we share thoughts and resources we find valuable, thinking regarding puzzles of practice, and engaging each other in challenging dialogue around what, why and how we do the things we do. As a group we have a great working and learning synergy. Our schools are different in context (size, decile, location, ethnic make-up etc) but are all connected through wanting to achieve the best possible learning outcomes for our children. We also face many similar circumstances in our roles, such as the sense of urgency in getting the audit report signed and sent off (as I've experienced this morning), the question around the building project, the newsletter that needs to be completed, the class we want to visit. I used the word privilege in my opening sentence because I so value being part of this group. I value the friendship, the challenge, the sharing and the opportunity of being given another lens on which to reflect on my own learning and leadership practice, and our school pathways and priorities (I had to get that pathways word in somewhere!). I appreciate being able to take the time to step out of the busyness of the day and to view things from the wider perspective. Having the breathing space to be able to think in creative and innovative ways, to reflect and re-imagine where we are heading. If we believe that active reflection is an important part of learning process then we need to ensure that we build it in as a priority in our busy lives. Not always easy, but being part of a learning group such as this, and regular writing of a reflective blog as an appraisal goal can certainly help. I am extremely grateful to the crew back at school who keep things trucking along and have to take on more while I'm out. Thanks team!

Friday, May 17, 2013


I was just out walking the dog and got to thinking about the Board of Trustees elections which are currently on the go. We've had 12 nominations at school, which is the most ever. Yesterday I read the bios of each of those nominated and got a bit of a feel for them. The wide ranging skill-sets of people nominated, and their desire to give positively to our school community shone through. 3 of those nominated have served as board members for the past 3 years, whilst the other 9 would be new to the role. Personally I can find election time a bit disconcerting. That whole element of not knowing what will happen, who I will be working closely with, how relationships might develop, what pathways the new board might want to explore... will this align with our current vision for learning, and practices in place to achieve this??? As I walked, I reflected, and came to the conclusion that much of it might come down to control - do I feel disconcerted because this is a process for which I have little or no control... and might like to? I then made a connection back to running (as I do). In a couple of weeks I'm entered to run in the Christchurch Marathon. In choosing to enter, I did so knowing there are a number of things I can control, and some that I cannot. I can control my preparation - choosing how far I run, how often, how fast. Choosing other things that will positively influence performance like nutrition, speed work, having good gear, sleep, mental attitude. Things I can't control though, include the weather on the day of the event. Last year there was a howling gale for the last half hour and the weekend after there was snow - I can't control the weather. I could get ill - last year I picked up a spew bug 2 days before the Rotorua Marathon and had to withdraw. I couldn't control that. I can't control the number of other people who enter or the speed they're going to run. I can prepare for a range of circumstances, but I can't control all of them. I think this reflection reminds me to spend time and energy on the things that matter and that I can control. I can be aware of the 'range of conditions' I might encounter but I can't choose them, so until marathon day I just need to focus on what's important, like why I like to run and what I hope to get out of the day (which is essentially to give my best and have fun). I think this could be the same in the school sense - I can prepare a bit for a range of outcomes, but the big thing is to ensure I keep prioritising what is most important - the learning of our children. Stay true to our vision and moral purpose and other things will happen accordingly. Don't over think the things I can't control. What do you think?