What is a wombat crossing?
At the end of last term, Greg Miller called us in to his office and told us he was leaving the school to go to a school in Bowral. That night, as I was sobbing in the car park trying to control myself so I could safely drive home, my mum rang. When I told her what was wrong, her response was “Kelly, what are you going to do….you can’t afford to live in Bowral”
What was I going to do? I’ve always been lucky to have worked for bosses that were brilliant principals. What was going to happen now? 2 weeks later I booked a meeting with Greg and told him I was going to apply for his job. Awkward. In the mix of “I don’t think I’ll even get to interview” and “I’m not you…but I think I can be enough me” and the “by the way can you give me a reference” I was just glad the meeting ended up being a phone call so that he could pick himself up off the floor without me seeing.
Fast forward, I got to interview. I was shocked, then got the job. More shocked. In the days after the phone call, I checked my phone about 20 times to see the congratulations text message sent by a member of the panel….it must be true.
I been in the lucky position to have the outgoing and the incoming principals together for a term so that I can ask a tonne of questions before Greg leaves. And what I’ve discovered so far is that I really had no idea how much I didn’t know. I’ve always been super curious and asked lots of questions outside of the scope of my roles…for example, I could tell you a fair amount about finance and building as well as what people see as my strength which is learning. Mostly because I’m a learner (my number one gallop strength) and over the years I’ve just asked lots and lots of questions.
I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive reactions of people when they’ve heard that I’m going into this role. The reaction from staff, parents and students has been so lovely. So good for the self esteem, but I’ve also been so overwhelmed by what I need to know, and the ticking down days before I start the actual role. My curious questions have become wide and varied. Where exactly is our staffing dashboard to (after reading a -hopefully not frequent – 127 page building document) what is a wombat crossing?
I’ve been extremely careful the last 8 weeks not to overstep. I think I’ve said “I’m not the principal” more times than I wish to count over the last 8 weeks but I’ve been lucky enough to have been asked by Greg to do some of the work for prep for next year….hiring 9 middle leaders so far, and now teachers for next term. 36 conversations with staff who requested to see the principal with their intentions for next year. It’s been hard but fulfilling. The excitement of telling people they have the job…I can’t imagine anything nicer than that. But then on the flip side telling people they don’t. But the opportunity to do so in a way that ensures that they grow from that, that you are kind in the way that you do so, and the opportunity to hear from staff their high points and their concerns, and to have people trust you enough to be honest and raw and open. It’s the opportunity to impact people with what you say and what you don’t. What a gift of an opportunity to positively Impact peoples day.
There’s a saying “you don’t know what you don’t know” and I’m realising this more and more as the weeks go on. Well, I’ve figured out what a wombat crossing is. I know that it will get a lot more difficult than that, but I hope that I can keep in mind the opportunity for positive impact while I’m figuring that stuff out.