First week jitters…
Monday the 2nd of September– my first official day at my new school. The night before this, my gorgeous partner Kelly had to be as reassuring as possible. My Facebook statuses repeatedly referring to my nerves in the hope that my caring friends and family would click ‘Like’ and comment ‘You’ll be great.’ My twitter feed was full of retweets of Good Luck!
Still, that wasn’t enough. My mind was racing, insecurities building for the first time in my life! This wasn’t me; I don’t ‘do’ nerves! I don’t get worried or ever begin to doubt myself.
Then it hit me, I was worried about being only 29, in my 7th year of teaching and I was about to embark on an Assistant Head Teacher job with the responsibility of Inclusion. Was I mad? Too ambitious? Or just continuing with my long-term plan? Time will tell… (I know the answer!)
A sleepless night later, I got out of bed at 5.15am and got dressed. I promised that I would make a healthy lunch, eat breakfast by that I mean always eat fruit in the morning. I have so far managed to stick to my promises! Wearing a suit for the first time to work I walked out our flat leaving a teary Kelly behind. (We met at my first school, moved in together after I proposed and had been driving to and from work together for the last 3 years., having worked together for 7 years!)
During the drive I was running through how I would meet the team, how I would introduce myself. I was also thinking about all the advice Kelly had given me, all the ideas I had thought of. Insecurities and worries once again creeping in.
I feel overall the week can be separated into the following categories.
Greetings, meetings, responsibilities, furniture and students!
Saying hi, hello, nice to meet you! Getting to know people is absolutely vital! I made it my first priority to get to know all MY team/dept/people I am line managing/overseeing and physically meeting them straight away! Speaking to them individually is paramount to building a successful relationship/unit. I think this is really important.
A lot of people commented after my first week saying how lovely it was that I made myself available the whole time and popped in to say hello to everyone at many points throughout the week. Ensuring you get to know your middle leaders and letting them know how critical they are is without doubt a fundamentally significant thing to do. I also made sure I went a long to the staff tea, break time welcome and played footy on Friday after school. I did this to show that I do not think of myself as ‘higher’ or more ‘important’ or even too ‘busy’ for the staff.
Getting my timetable and then penciling in all the regular meetings I was finding myself being committed to was becoming somewhat overwhelming! However, giving people time is necessary. Letting them know they have your ear, your effort and your advice is essential. Meeting my line manager was also useful for me to get some questions answered and like I was attempting to make my staff feel, my bosses were making me feel like that too. Which eased so many worries and concerns I started the week with. I have read on @SLTChat many members of SLT stating that during the day is your team’s time. You should work after school. I think… I agree with this… for now! J
Assistant Head Teacher- Director of Inclusion- was the job I signed up to. I have also been signed up to a part time university course- SENCO qualification and points towards a Masters. Member of the Governing Body, Leader of Learn 2 Lead etc etc etc! However, I slowly realised with any SMT position other responsibilities will creep in. Sentences will begin with, ‘You will leading…’ ‘This is something that falls under you…!’ Taking these jobs/roles on with a smile is crucial in asserting that you are an able, confident and hardworking new member of the school team. DON’T COMPLAIN…just yet!
I feel ensuring that you know your teams full responsibilities too is needed. I printed out all job descriptions, read them, understood them and then simply asked each member of staff, what do they actually do. Hearing about the extra work that people put in and letting them know how thankful and grateful you are proved very useful for me. I have created a notebook with info on each staff- not how others have told me. How I am seeing. How I am feeling. Finding out for yourself is better than listening to others. Everyone deserves a second chance in my opinion. Everyone deserves a fresh start too.
An ongoing issue in my first week was making sure I had the correct furniture for my new office! Ok, I admit I am a little OCD. Matching desk and filing cabinet and shelves- too much? Making sure all the ICT worked, ensuring I could get access to my emails, printer and of course my new IPad needed to be done! (I was so glad I went in to school during the summer holidays to get those simple but time consuming tasks complete! I highly recommend things like this are done as soon as possible!) Making friends with the caretakers- sorry Site Staff is something I had to do! After a lot of priority jobs being carried out and help requests logged I finally found what I needed. ‘Stealing’ sorry I mean borrowing ‘spare/unused’ furniture is expected! Right!?
One point to note- I have not actually decorated my office yet, (with thank you cards from my previous school or my ‘best teacher’ key rings,) or moved in fully to my new home (office). In a way, the mess has shown members of staff visiting me that I have been rushed off my feet and not been ‘using’ my time getting comfortable. Although this does need to be done at some point!
Finally the most important stakeholders in the school- the students! I have said hello, how are you, good morning, good bye, see you soon and shaken hands with every student I had the pleasure to meet. I have been out every break time, walked over to the most ‘hidden’ parts of school to see which students hang around there. I have confiscated hoodies, asserted my authority but also let students ‘off’ minor misdemeanors! I have done this all myself- standing on your own two feet is essential. Seems as though as soon as you have a radio on you students think ‘oh my God!’
Ensuring you let students know who you are I think is the best use of time too. Explaining to them where I live, what I teach, why I am there has been fruitful to say the least. Going in to assemblies, holding doors open for students and smiling is highly recommended.
One memory that will serve me for a long time will be in the first assembly I visited, a Year 11 one about the importance of wanting to achieve, the students all clapped when the head introduced me. This truly did blow me away! The Head told me that has never happened before! A good sign?
If I can summarise my first week then I will simply say; go in to work with questions, promise to answer when you have learnt all you need to and ask more questions.
My plan for next week is to continue to speak to staff, visit classrooms and members of my team. Move into my office and remember that I was shortlisted, interviewed and offered the job because I am the best man for the job.