Home' Independence : Independence Vol 40 No 1 May 2015 Contents VOL 40 NO 1 MAY 2015 INDEPENDENCE 21
You will need speeches
for many occasions. Start
collecting source material and, if you
are uber-organised, start writing. I have
100 speeches that are able to be jiggled
and juggled. When under competing
time pressures, having recourse to pre-
prepared material can be a lifesaver.
Gather all historical
documents that may have an
influence on your decision making.
Have at hand a
comprehensive set of policy
documents and then, no matter how
many, review them with the intention to
develop a single, searchable file.
Locate, read and store the
secret squirrel file.
The status report
Well done! If you have successfully
completed all the above you will be ready
for a very important task that should be
completed within the first six months in
the Principal’s chair:
Write a status paper on the
school. My suggested themes
would be: enrolment profile, historically
and projected; staff, including an
organisational chart, a review of position
descriptions, age breakdowns and years
of service of the executive and positions
of responsibility in administration and
teaching; a five-year financial forecast;
reference to the existing strategic, master
and marketing plans; other notables
drawn from the existing, or previous
strategic plan; a review of any other
major projects under way, or projected.
Above all else, teach (#5). Teaching
a class that requires preparation,
assessment, marking, collegial and
parent engagement and reporting will
make the working week busier, but you
can’t be a genuine instructional leader
from behind an office desk. The chance
to get to know a range of students, their
families, and colleagues in a department
are all benefits that make being a
Principal more than a job.
Meet with the parent leaders,
such as President of the Parent
& Friends Association, straight away.
Attendance at P&F meetings, and fielding
questions, is mandatory.
Establish a fortnightly one-
to-one meeting rotation with
your executive team and senior staff.
Even if executive and leadership team
meetings are in place, the personal
interchange in an individualised meeting
will have greater meaning and longer-
term relational benefits.
Establish a harmonious
relationship with the union.
Understanding the union represents the
interests of ‘your’ staff just as you do is a
fair starting point for cohesive outcomes
around matters that will, inevitably, arise.
Set your office up as if you
are on a military exercise.
Essentials are plenty of ‘good’ food
close by, a change of clothes, computing
devices that are ergonomically sound,
Principal’s cards and note pads, a printer
and directories of all contacts (Board,
staff, families, the school’s law firm).
I can’t emphasise enough the
necessity of a diary to survival.
Do not, I repeat, do not attempt to run
your own diary. Have your PA control the
diary and ensure all diary appointments
are made through the PA. Apprise the PA
of your eating habits so there is space in
your day to sustain yourself. I suggest
keeping appointments to half an hour.
Ensure there is a down-time period
during the day for about the same length
of time: you need to re-charge. Going for
a wander or reading the newspaper are
worthwhile distractions. Have your PA
aware of the need to question callers as
you may need to gain some history and
background to any follow-up meeting
or response. If someone else in your
organisational structure should speak
with the caller before your turn, have
them do so. You can’t do everyone’s
job and delegating responsibility will
be better for the school and your own
wellbeing and leadership.
A final word
An affirming response to your leadership
cannot be forced; it will be your
actions over a year, or more, that will
determine your acceptance or otherwise,
particularly by staff and parents.
It is the students who will want to know
you more than any other group. Students
should always be the raison d’être for
the leadership in the school and, in my
estimation, are the most pivotal group
in a new Principal’s professional life.
Establishing a rapport and relationships
with students will also be the most
enjoyable: where the adult world
sees threats and failings, students see
opportunity and ‘what if’.
Prior to joining Mathew Flinders Anglican
College in 2014, Dr Groughan was Principal of
Pulteney Grammar School, SA (2010-13), Pedare
Christian College, SA (2007-09) and Master of
Dulwich College Shanghai, China (2005).
It is the students
who will want to
know you more than
any other group.
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