Learning who to follow – operation job search reflection

Since I’ve spent a few days hanging out at the school I will be teaching at, I thought it would be worthwhile checking in with what I felt an ideal school would be for me at the start of operation job search.

High expectations and high trust – Definitely feeling the weight of expectations, but also like that I am being given space to try out crazy ideas to see if/how they can work.
Connected – Principal blogs and is on twitter ‘nough said.
Collaborative – I can identify lots of people to learn from and with.
A culture of happiness – despite showing up just a few days before report comments were due in there was still lots of laughter in the staffroom and the kids were lovely too.

However the purpose of this post isn’t for me to affirm my decision to sign on with the school but rather to reflect on what I learned during the process of finding a teaching position. Because what I didn’t realize at the time was that the job search wasn’t just about finding employment, it was really about finding good leadership.

Now I’m not getting any delusions of grandeur but I do think that we need to rethink our traditional notions of leadership learning for teachers whereby you ‘do your time’ before being able to even think about what constitutes effective school leadership. We know those first few years in the profession will make or break a Beginning Teacher yet most of us will take a job, any job, without much thought about who we want to be as a teacher.  This job first, professional development later is undoubtedly a reflection of the current job market as it is

When I was in the research stage of operation job search I ended up talking to a a couple of school leaders. Most of them said the same thing, be careful about which school you sign on with. At the time I was so worried about actually finding a job I almost missed an important lesson for any beginning/student teacher, think strategically about the people who you learn from.

The biggest thing I picked up hanging around the school for a couple of days not teaching was how the interactions the senior management team had a huge impact on classroom practice. The relationships between the school leaders and the teachers was a model for teachers to take back to the classrooms to interact with our students. Having a great model of relationship management will undoubtedly help me with my next learning step, creating a classroom environment where students can learn effectively.

The first few years in the profession undoubtedly has the steepest learning curve. There will be people who will contribute to your learning journey and people who will hinder it. Learning to identify and utilize the helpful people is a skill useful not just for teaching but for life. What’s been awesome about this particular journey is that I’ve met so many awesome people who inspire me and I hope to collaborate with next year even if we don’t happen to be in the same physical building or even time zone.

Is learning a bit like a twitter feed? The quality of your experience is first and foremost about finding great people to follow?

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