Over the past two weeks I have had the opportunity to be acting Deputy Principal at Port Elliot Primary School. This has been the first time that I have been in this role. Until this opportunity my leadership experience has been as Coordinator. I love being coordinator because it allows me the opportunity to work with teachers and still have the classroom time (I am in a year 6/7 class for four days).
Although, I was only Deputy for two weeks I was surprised with how much I learnt and experienced. During the two weeks I had the chance to assist with Individual Learning Plans, liaise with the local kindergartens about transition students, meet with potential new families and conduct tours around the school, attend a Governing Council meeting, meet with the school’s student review team to discuss students at risk, attend a meeting with the Special Education staff, parents and support staff in relation to a student at the school, assist with behaviour management and support our Nunga staff and students with an excursion.
Some key things that I learnt in these two weeks included:
- Be Nice to the Office Staff – Our two office ladies where an amazing support to me over the two weeks. They seem to know the ins and outs of the office and whenever I wasn’t sure about a process they would guide me in the right direction. If I needed to know anything they seemed to know the answers.
- Be Flexible and Work When You Can – I never realised how many interruptions happen in the office. Just as I would start a task something or someone would come in with a question, comment or just in need of a chat. I quickly learnt that you had to be flexible with whatever you were trying to do and work around the interruptions. Flexibility and good time management would be important skills in leadership.
- Don’t Try To Do Any Work On Friday Afternoons – It must be the day or just that the weekend is in sight but Friday afternoon was definitely the busiest time with student behaviour management. Both Fridays after lunch I was kept busy talking with students who seemed to need a bit of support with their behaviour.
- Ask For Help – I am very lucky to work with a great leadership team at Port Elliot and have two wonderful ‘mentors’ in our Principal and Counsellor. Both of these people supported, guided and advised me during these two weeks – as they usually do.
- Balancing Home Life and Leadership is Hard – I am sure that if I decided to pursue a Deputy Principal role I would work on this balance. As I was only doing this role for two weeks I wanted to get the most out of it and balancing that with three young children was difficult. I think that I would need to remind myself that sometimes the work can wait until the morning and does not always need to be done straight away.
- I Love Teaching – I did miss being in my classroom whilst I did this role. Normally, I have four days in the class but during these two weeks I have only spent one day a week with my class. I missed them! The thing that I did enjoy though was that I was able to wander around the school and spend some time in different rooms with different children. I was able to go into the Junior Primary classes and talk to the students that I normally do not get to spend time with.
I enjoyed the chance to take on this position and it has made me think that this is an area of school leadership that I will pursue – maybe once Ava (3 years old) is a little older. I enjoyed the challenges that I had to face, the chance to work closely with a variety of teachers, support staff, students, leadership team and parents and the opportunity to be a part of school decision making.