Much like the preferred style of the man (partially) responsible for the current madness of our world – Trump – the title to this blog post is intentionally misleading. I have not received a promotion, well, not a permanent one – I’ll be DP at my school for three weeks starting next Monday. It’s still kinda scary to think that anyone would consider me fit for this position, even temporarily, haha. I did put in an EOI application at the end of last year for this (very) temp gig, two days after finding out that my super crazy awesome principal would be leaving my school to head to one closer to his home. I blame my emotions for my decision to apply, and the encouragement of my principal and my great friend John Goh.
So, having lost a leader who I respect greatly, and who supported me unwaveringly in my position as Head Teacher of Teaching and Learning, I feel overwhelmed by the reality of continuing my mission to improve teaching and learning without him, and even more so overwhelmed by the reality of being DP next week. This post is not to gloat that I will be DP (in fact, I told both of my senior classes yesterday that I will be DP and both erupted in spontaneous laughter), but to ask for advice. I have been joking over the last two weeks that when I take over as DP (yes, for three whole weeks) I will go Trump-style and start signing executive orders to change systems in the school… like, ‘Every teacher must use video games as a stimulus for their next unit of work.’ or ‘School uniform is now non-compulsory.’ But seriously, I have been making a mental list of issues I would like to raise at the senior executive and executive level – just small things – and I think that’s OK. What I really need advice about is how to ‘act’… do I stay my same silly self, or am I required to subdue that a little? Tone down the purple hair, so to speak… I have laughed with colleagues about my need to wear a power suit, red lipstick and killer heels, plus put my hair in a severe bun – things which none of the three women who are our current senior executive do. But truly, what makes a good DP?
Tony Rudd, my now ex-principal, was excellent at interpersonal relations – he talked amiably to students, staff, and parents. He loved to walk through the school grounds and be involved with what was happening. He would drop into my office at all times of the day just for a chat… he was always interested in my ideas, and supported me when others didn’t. I could ask him questions whenever I needed answers – late at night tweets, early morning emails, middle of the day phone calls. He paid attention to the latest trends in education, was wary of following the pack just for the sake of it, and devoted more than the necessary or expected hours to thinking about school – thinking about our school, but just the concept of school more broadly. I miss him too much, and sometimes catch myself walking down the stairs at school expecting to bump into him on the way up, or to hear him talking cheerfully to the cleaners. I’m not sure how to be a DP, but thanks to Tony, I think I know what it takes to be a leader.