Thursday, 13 March 2014

Curriculum Leadership Part 1

In my last post I mentioned an intention to share my journey as Curriculum Leader at Year 11. As you might see from the date stamps, it has been quite a busy journey. Finding time to mull over thoughts and put together coherent prose.

I have now enjoyed sufficient time in the role to comment on it. I think back to what my perceptions of what a leaders role is when I was only teaching, and some of my perceptions have now changed. :)

At our school, the Curriculum Leader works hand in hand with the Year Level Coordinator, for a given year level. They are responsible for the academic management of students, to help students find success in whatever their learning pathway is. They are also responsible for the administrative aspect of ensuring students are doing the right thing in terms of subject commitments. They are also broadly part of the leadership continuum at the school, and therefore responsible for the leadership of both teachers and students at the College.

Whilst I think I appreciated what the first of these mandates involved, I don't think I was aware of how to blend this in to a teaching load. Whilst previously my full attention was devoted to teaching and learning, some of my time must now be directed into planning and conducting meetings with students and parents (and teachers) on a regular basis, to ensure they are improving their learning outcomes. This is quite an adjustment to my role as teacher, although one I enjoy, with the chance to build different relationships with students and staff.

The administrative work involved with following up students who are failing to submit work, are truant on days where there is assessment, or failing to achieve certain outcomes is much larger than I anticipated. Whereas previously I was responsible for some 100 students that I taught individually, I now teach some 80 students, and am responsible for administrating the whole year 11 cohort, with some 170 students. Some of these students I am yet to meet and have a conversation with. One of the issues I have faced is that whilst in my role I can build rapport with disengaged students through my meetings with them, this does not always change the relationship they have with the classroom teacher, which is sometimes where their issues lie. I feel as though my role is to support both the staff member and the student achieve what they need to; for the teacher to help the student learn, and for the student to allow the teacher to teach them. It is more and more apparent that my role is about facilitating relationships, setting boundaries and listening and being present.

This ties into the idea of leadership more broadly. That, the role is about facilitating relationships and bringing the best out of people. It is much less about curriculum than the name itself suggests. I have encountered many leadership moments already this year. I have had to present information at all staff briefings, something that I found challenging - whilst I am outgoing, presenting to my colleagues, whose opinions I respect, I felt embarrassed making myself vulnerable. I have also had to lead multiple assemblies of my year level, and weekly year 11 staff briefings. It changes my perception to be the one in charge, responsible for guiding others. I have found the experience humbling, and it makes me strive to demonstrate leadership. I am still working out what that is.