Creative Teacher Support

Creative, practical support and discussion for classroom teachers everywhere


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…Finally…

Hello again. It’s been a little time. I’m sorry about that. You see, I started this new job as Assistant Principal. It’s been…awesome! And I mean that in the truest sense of the word in awe invoking or deserving of awe. My head is spinning and I’m beginning to see how the plate spinning metaphor is, at times, insufficient to describe a days work – I’m working on embracing that feeling, holding onto it and powering through. Persistence, not volume or speed will win the day…I hope.

The title “Finally”, relates to what felt like a long road to this job and also to the fact that I literally haven’t been anywhere close to being able to fit in a blog; I’m finally writing one now. Particular apologies should go to @ASTAli and @deadshelley who also made the same transition this year and have already updated the world on their progress. What I have realised is, that when I sat in many an interview before taking up this post and said, “well, there are aspects of this job that I’m already doing”, what I meant was, “in no way shape or form was I working at this pace or level”.

A summary of the last three weeks has to be: head spinning at times, absolutely loving it. We have a brand new school so nothing is precedented, staff who have been welcoming and working towards harnessing the power that the new building has given us to establish an ethos and standard; and students who, largely, are responding to this new era. It is a challenging context in which we work, make no mistake, but it has been a positive start. The rest of the SLT I am working with are truly pacesetters and I’m working hard to live up to their example. They know their job inside out and I’m playing catch up, but they have all taken time to make sure I know what I need to know and can always knock on their doors when I need it. As well as this, they are modelling a standard for colleagues. They ALL teach and teach a considerable amount, in our first SLT meeting of the year we agreed that, at all times, unless a meeting was in progress our office doors would be open, one meeting a day, preferably keeping strategic work out of the school day and our radios are switched on. Yes, I get a walkie talkie! What more could I want? We are timetabled “on-call” and staff know that, if they call, they will get a member of SLT.

It’s hard work, but I haven’t gone off to work this energised in some time.

On top of all of this is the obvious cherry on top of the amazing surroundings. When I say the school is brand new, I do mean, literally just finished before we went back after the summer. I will aim to post some pictures on Twitter but it will look like I’m boasting. You will be jealous.

Our first week used up the five inset days for the year – we needed to – we were technically still moving in. Logistics dictated that that needed to be the case. It also meant that I could deliver some training and set out somewhat of a stall before the year really kicked off. The Vice Principal in charge of behaviour and safety suggested I should do part of an assembly for every year group on the first day, I’ve done assemblies before, but this was always going to be a bit different. It was, of course, a masterstroke on his part as I don’t have to field the question, “who are you?” from students, because they know. I’m line managing out of my subject specialism, something that made me shiver slightly at first but has been brilliant in terms of learning with those colleagues in Humanities and PE (yes, PE!). I’ve delivered more training, had some “vibrant” professional discussions, probably upset people, organised learning walks, exercise book monitoring and am aiming to tackle my section of the SEF before putting finishing touches to this years Performance Management cycle. But I’m not doing it alone. Thankfully. Support is clear, advice is obvious and subtext is non-existent, it has to be, we don’t have the time. With reference to my answers at interview, I wasn’t doing any of THIS job, I was doing things that, hopefully, prepared me sufficiently for this job.

What I wanted when I applied, was, first and foremost the context. I’m not a moral campaigner or a zealot or indeed, I hope, an over-estimater of my own abilities. I started my career in a school in challenging circumstances and, it’s my belief that they deserve staff as good as any other school, in any other area. I hope I can be that in this job – that’s my goal. Secondly (almost a joint first) was the job description. It’s delicious: learning & teaching, CPD, Performance Management and Literacy. All areas I would have selected, had I been able to. On top of this, I had had the good fortune, whilst still an AST, to do a little bit of work with the school whilst times were particularly bad. Something stuck with me at the time.

And here I am. I know that there’s a honeymoon period in any situation like this and I know I’ll hit the “wall”, at the moment, I’m enjoying the challenges and going to work smiling…finally…