As Cale Birk writes on his blog, The Learning Nation, "AprilMayJune" is a crazy, hectic and exciting time of year. Schools are busy places with staff and students frantically trying to "fit it all in", the office staff looking at next year's timetable, putting the finishing touches on the School Performance Plan, and dealing with staffing issues while our students are excitedly anticipating graduation ceremonies and summer holidays. It is also a time when people reflect upon the year that has passed and consider all that has been accomplished and learned.
As my second year in the Principal's office nears the finish line, I reflect upon what has been an incredibly steep learning curve, a frighteningly busy pace, some growth in my leadership skills and some significant changes within our school community. Looking back at my first year, I remember job-action, no meetings, reduced teacher involvement in extra-curricular activities, a three-day walkout, no report cards and a litany of other challenges. We managed to persevere through what were difficult times (especially for a "newbie"), and I thought to myself, "it can only get easier as I become more experienced, teachers become involved again and life returns to normal".
That statement was partly right, but could not have been more incomplete. My second year has been much more rewarding, and has not had the same turmoil, but to be honest, I have not found it easier. In fact, I am likely more fatigued now than I was at this time last year. Yes, I have more experience and a slightly better feel for what I am doing, and teachers are offering more assistance with a variety of tasks (extra-curricular opportunities and events like Commencement planning and so much more). There has been an increase in meetings and more open communication and collaboration with staff, and while it has been extremely beneficial, it is much more work.
I am extremely proud of what is being done at Burnett. From efforts to make our Assessment practices more Outcome-Based (discussions have included things like the Rick Wormeli video seen below) to our collaborative development of a Work Habits Rubric (also below), we have regained an extremely open, communicative and forward thinking climate in our school. This gets me excited, but I must admit, navigating these discussions has made this past year much more challenging than my first year. Year One was not a very real taste of the important work that school leaders do, since there was very little opportunity to lead. This year has been much more exhausting, but also invigorating and has left me with a feeling of some degree of accomplishment.