Friday, October 18, 2013

BUILDING - What? Why?


Building Unified Instructional Leadership Direction In Northern Gateway

I have been a fortunate participant in what I believe to have been a most purposeful and intentional leadership development program within a school division.  The BUILDING program of 2009-2011 was a professional development opportunity that was envied by colleagues, including administrators, from within and outside of the Division.  Careful thought and attention to detail was evident as we were led through experiences, seminars, scenarios, and conversations that would facilitate our competency as school leaders.

What I thought I was capable of prior to taking part in BUILDING was unrealistic when I consider the vast learning that occurred in a mere eighteen months.  When we received our certificates of completion, there was confidence: in our knowledge about the Principal Quality Guidelines, in our understanding of the role of administrators, in our ability to find the background and deliver appropriate responses to tough questions, in our transformation as instructional leaders, in our Division Office personnel who had so willingly offered to continue to be a part of our professional learning network, and in our connectedness as a cohort group.

So, in an effort to answer "What?", I would point out the following, recognizing that this is not an exhaustive list:

  • leadership capacity
  • communication skills
  • interview repertoire
  • professional and personal relationships
  • humility
  • competence
  • confidence

When I consider where I was in the fall of 2009, I sometimes wonder what I was thinking applying to the BUILDING program.  If I were to share some big pieces in a limited context:

  • returned to teaching after a year's maternity leave with my second child (to a position where 8 of the 11 assigned core courses were either new in curriculum or completely new to me)
  • enrolled in a Masters of Education program (due to complete in April 2010)
  • fourth principal in five years at the school I worked at
  • the school was due to undergo a review that year

    I recognize that for some, that brief insight may seem somewhat daunting.  And for part of me, it was, especially when I considered the standards that I would be trying to reach.  However, there was another part of me that had sat as a young teacher marking Math 30 Pure Diploma exams and speaking to my teaching assignment: there are certain realities that are faced when teaching in a small rural community.  Where there are challenges, there are also opportunities.

    My mother always told me, "If you want something done, give it to a busy person, because they will find the time to make it happen."  My husband once said, "One of the things I love about you is that you are driven to be your best."  When I consider those statements in reflection, I can say that they quite probably influenced my decision.

    I daresay that it may also have been impacted by my relationships with my colleagues, a push from those close in my Masters cohort, my vast ambition to "know more" and "do more", my principal's support, my respect for those who had put forth the opportunity, and my overwhelming personal bias to bring improvement to my school (especially when I considered the future for my children).

    So when I wonder what I was thinking, I can always find the "Why?".  I can say I was being selfish.  If I was going to be the force for the educational transformation that I wanted for my school, my students and my children, then I was going to have to learn through the BUILDING program how to focus my enthusiasm to leverage change through appropriate means.  I can also say I was proud: to have that much support in pursuing a leadership opportunity must mean that I was demonstrating something that was worth applying to participate.

    "What?" and "Why" have been answered.  So the question is "Where am I now"?

    I am looking forward to an opportunity to be a part of BUILDING for a second time.  I am participating in a different role, I am viewing the experience through a different lens, and I am fortunate to be connected to different cohort.

    When I acknowledge "different role", I am excited to be a part of the behind the scenes, purposeful, intentional planning that will bring the program to fruition once again.  I am proud to be included given my new role in Learning Services, alongside the team that I have respected and admired over the years.  Again I am selfish in that I wish to grow in this program alongside its new participants so that we may pursue our vision for education, especially keeping our students and our children in mind.  I look forward to being a part of the activities this time that may not have been a part of the original BUILDING program.

    When I consider "different lens", I consider who I was before my previous BUILDING experience compared to who I was after.  Add to that my experience as a Learning Coach.  I am not the same person or the same educator I was four years ago, or even four months ago.  My first time through BUILDING taught me more about the reality of the role of administration.  Recognizing this reality in this venture, I can attend to this opportunity more critically, with a chance to build upon the foundation that was laid in my experience.  What is new to me this time through?  What am I viewing differently with this second glance?  How I will change as an educator through this program, in this current context of education?

    When I examine "different cohort", I am aware that I have been smiled upon with good fortune.  I have had an opportunity to be a part of various cohort groups along my educational journey, and I know how powerful they can be.  I look forward to being able to learn from this amazing and unique group of colleagues in this seemingly intimate manner.  I would regard myself as a benefactor of the growth that they will both undergo and inspire.

    So to report on "Where am I know?", I would remark that I am attempting to convey my enthusiasm and gratitude for this formidable professional development experience once again.

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    Please take this opportunity to share your impressions, experiences, and learnings from my reflections. I would request that any criticism be constructive: the goal of this blog is growth.