Below is a reflection I wrote a few years ago (2016) in my first year at Catholic College Wodonga. I never published it then, but it seems now is the right time to do so. Sometimes we all need a reminder to slow down and think. Consider. Plan. One of my colleagues has this great quality that was given a name this week – “the anchor to reality”. Sometimes, I wish I had more of this trait. But perhaps it’s good I don’t. Perhaps it’s just really good I work closely with someone who does?
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I like change. I think it’s exciting. I know others might find it confronting, challenging and at times, downright terrifying, but to me, change is something that invigorates and wakes me up.
Twice this week I’ve been reminded of the need to sit on my hands and slow down. These messages have not been connected, nor have they been directed at me personally. But I have heard them, read them and taken them personally. Both times, they have come from people I respect, so I’m going to try and listen.
The first message came from George Couros (@) in his book The Innovator’s Mindset (see my review here) where he reminds educators not to rush and jump on every idea that’s out there – even the good ones! He challenges us to consider the implementation of new strategies and warns that if we aren’t intentional, we may promote confusion and burnout, instead of inspiring innovation and deep learning. Instead he argues that we need to change our mindset that every new idea, even good ideas, must be immediately implemented. This is particularly pertinent for new leaders in schools. There is always the pressure to come in and put your stamp on things, but I’ve deliberately tried to avoid that this year; rather wanting to experience things ‘as they are’ in this school. It’s been challenging at times and I hope that people don’t think I’m sitting idly by. Trust me, inaction is not always the easy option.
The second message I heard during a conference where Peter Hutton (Principal of Templestowe College, Victoria, Australia @) was the keynote speaker. Listening to Peter, it’s hard not to get carried away with all the possibilities of how you could apply the TC model to your own school. However, he deliberately warns against this – you are the experts at your own site, you are the leaders at your own school and you will know what will work and what won’t. Not all schools are TC, so it’s pivotal that we do as George Couros suggests and change this “action mindset” to one that is much more considered and strategic. It’s pivotal that I do this.
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When I look back over these comments and consider what’s happened at our school since then, it’s easy to see plenty of examples of action. But, I’m most proud of the times when I worked closely with the staff and the community to ensure that what we adjusted was done so carefully and with due consideration; the times where I slowed my “action mindset”. These are the changes that have been the most significant and sustainable.
Thankfully, I work with some great “anchors to reality”.