This school year, I began a new position as Vice Principal. It is a position I’ve held before, albeit in a different school in a different system. During my previous time as a VP, I felt I was ready for the challenges that I would face. I was excited and eager to begin the role. What I recognize now, 7 years later, is that I was not anywhere near ready.
I am currently one of two VPs and one of three administrators in a school of 630 students in a small city in South Eastern Alberta. Our community is somewhat unique in small town Alberta. We have a beef processing plant on the edge of town that has brought in many workers from abroad. Our community is very diverse which brings benefits and challenges. Our school reflects that make up with approximately a 32% ELL population. Of those students approximately 15% are refugees. I feel very lucky to be an administrator in this building. The difference for me now, is that I feel much more ready than I did 7 years ago.
If I am honest, when I was first an administrator, I was enamoured by a title. At that point, I had spent ten years in the school. My responsibility in the school continued to increase through Department Head positions and as a Director of a large international studies program. As such, I believed the next logical step was into administration. As I look back now, I realize that the motivation to lead was selfish – I wanted more responsibility. As a result, I did an OK job. I managed the schedules of the students and staff. I dealt with issues of behaviour among the students. I conducted staff meetings and worked with parents who were concerned. But, I was not a leader.
Nine years later, I look at my role in a much different way. I feel I am a part of something much bigger than myself. Our school is an amazing place filled with dedicated staff. Our students are diverse and have a lot to teach me. This is a building where I want to be a leader. I want to help create an environment where we (the adults and students) share a desire to improve what we do. Not because what we are doing isn’t good enough but because we can always do better. I want to be a part of a culture of inclusion where students and staff feel they can contribute in meaningful ways.
I won’t pretend that I have the answers as to how this goal will be achieved. I have an idea and a starting point. My starting point is to listen to the voices of the building. I have a vision for where I would like to see us go. But, the first step, is understanding where we are. That will take some time.
Thanks for spending a few moments reading my thoughts. All the best,