It’s been a week of growing panic. My role as principal begins soon and I am frantically trying to master new managerial skills.
From whom do I order classroom furniture, in what size and quantity? How do I prepare budgets and hire staff, based on projected enrolments, rather than confirmed class numbers? How do I balance timetables, to avoid elementary and secondary clashes? Is it cheaper to dry-clean those dirty old mats or buy new carpets?
I don’t know!
This week, I feel overwhelmed by managerial responsibilities. While I have good organisational skills and a natural anxiety which spurs forward planning, I am not a person who loves tinkering with spreadsheets or gets a thrill from balancing my budget. I am just not interested in details.
I do, however, care deeply about teachers and student learning. And these annoying details, such as the height of a student’s chair or the practicality of a teacher’s timetable have an enormous impact on learning. A child in an ill-fitted chair cannot enjoy extended writing; a teacher with insufficient planning time cannot deliver differentiated lessons. I must learn to master the devilish details because they matter in learning organisations.
However, this week’s joy came from updating the school handbook! (That sounded less pathetic in my head.) As in most schools, the handbook begins with a letter from the principal. Suddenly, I was having fun again! It was an empowering exercise to start with a blank page and communicate my beliefs about education. Through this quick and simple task, I felt the panic subside.
I may not yet understand the how of daily school management but I do know the what of great schools. I have strong beliefs about teaching, learning, curriculum and community. It’s a good start. With these priorities back in place, I’m pretty sure I can attack those chair and carpet dilemmas tomorrow!