Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Things that keep me awake at night...

Last weekend, I attended the East Asia Regional Council of Schools (EARCOS) leadership conference. This is always a great opportunity to learn more about a whole range of things as the quality of the speakers and workshops is always high.

One workshop I attended was on coping in a crisis and ensuring that you are well prepared in terms of knowing procedure and how to respond, including how to deal with the media.

For  principals, this is probably the one thing that keeps us awake at night- all of the potential risks 'out there', what to do when things go wrong...and deal with events that can be out of your control. Of course, the workshop was peppered with lots of real life school examples, which only served to fuel the insomnia as they were very real and quite current.

Lots of very good strategies were given and a clear 'game plan' provided. Things like ensuring the phone list is kept up to date (note to parents: do we have your current contact details?) assigning a media spokesperson, keeping answers open, honest and brief, thorough background checks of new staff and so on.

Preparing for potential incidents is possible to some degree. We do have a  comprehensive critical incident procedure in place (which is now about to undergo a review to ensure that we have covered most broad areas and that our procedures are current and known to those involved!). We are rigorous in completing risk assessments for trips and each of these has a reconnaissance visit completed by the staff involved before the trip takes place. We will continue our current practice of having  new appointees to school undergo a background check as well as  referee checks.

Another workshop that I attended was about the 'To DON'T List' for principals. As you can imagine, my 'To Do' can be quite long at times! However, this workshop urged us to think about eliminating practices that have never worked (I call this 'strategic abandonment' and have used it at times very successfully!) or those that have ceased to work in new contexts, or have such a so low impact on learning that they are just not worth doing. It was a good reminder about constantly reflecting and reviewing our current practice- it is so easy in a busy day to forget to do this.

Talking about reflecting, our focus on teaching our students to be 'mindful' is going well and we are noticing a positive difference in our classrooms. Have you noticed a positive difference at home?

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