I was asked today by one of my new colleagues about whether I was enjoying my new job. I told her that I was enjoying it very much - the opportunity to take on a more substantive leadership role, to be involved in a totally different school environment and to put some of my experience and ideas to good use. I haven't been in a Category 1 (highest level of disadvantage) school since I taught in Port Augusta in the early nineties. I've never been in a school that is essentially brand new. So, even in the middle of the eighth week, I'm still absorbing a lot of new learning and noticing things.
We have a lot of teachers who haven't been teaching for a long time. Some are young but quite a few moved into teaching later in life. A reasonable number of these have only ever taught at a Category 1 school. Lesson for me: don't assume that everyone can draw on the same depth of experience that I have but because there are many more complex and challenging students here, I have plenty to learn from my new colleagues' shorter time span of experiences.
Cross platform networks are complex and there is always something that needs fixing. Be it iMacs that won't print to the photocopiers to under powered Dell Minis that can't really cope with a full Windows 7 image, teachers have to be realistic about the technology and being able to adapt their goals and tasks when using the laptops with students is a necessity. But the kids are platform agnostic - Windows has Publisher that is popular and flexible, while the Macs have GarageBand which is ultra-popular with the upper primary boys and after all, the internet works pretty much the same way on all computers.
The key to working successfully with any students to build a positive relationship first. That is hard in a leadership role so I've tried really hard to connect names to kids and use those names so they know that I'm interested in them as an individual. I get names wrong quite a bit still and am constantly asking my teaching colleagues to clue me in on a name. Unfortunately, sometimes names are easy to remember for the wrong reasons with some of the more challenging students - and it is also important to remember that being an authority figure isn't really something that carries any weight with them. In fact, it can work against me in that regard. I do like the fact that many kids will say hello to me even if on occasion they call me by my predecessor's name!