Aspirational … to … Ambushed
Me; “I have always wanted to become a teacher!”
High School Careers Advisor; “Come on Kate, you’re from (insert Private School name here). We can do better than that!
Me; “But… “
High School Careers Advisor; “Now, I see here that the subjects you’re taking are either the Arts, or the Sciences. You know what, my son is down at Lincoln and studying Landscape Architecture, you’d love it!”
Me; “Yeah but …”
High School Careers Advisor; “I hear that your boyfriend is interested in enrolling.”
Me; “GIVE ME THE PROSPECTUS!”
Even my beautiful rock-climbing boyfriend couldn’t make me enjoy studying Landscape Architecture, and I quit after the first year. We broke up shortly after.
In the meantime, a little show called C.S.I was super popular and I was pretty convinced that studying Biochemistry was the key to my happiness!
… That lasted a month.
I took a year off study to do some character building while selling shoes at Hannah’s in Christchurch.
Fell in love with an aspiring politician.
Fell out of love with the aspiring politician and realised that there was actually nothing left for me in Christchurch any more. I moved back to Hamilton with Mum and Dad and had an awakening – I KNEW what I wanted to do all along, I’d just been too busy listening to everyone else to hear it!
I enrolled at Waikato Uni to study teaching.
After graduating, there was such a ridiculous over-supply of teachers that only 20% of graduates were offered jobs. I applied for 100’s and did not get one interview!
I was this-close to giving up and finding a cardboard box with adequate square footage for my dog and I to comfortably build a new life underneath the nearest bridge, when something extraordinary happened. Three weeks before the 2008 school year started, I was in the supermarket when a chance meeting with my Aunt’s friend (who happened to be a Principal), lead to me being offered my first teaching job. A Year 0-2 class at a 4 teacher school just out of Te Awamutu.
Sorry for being sweary on the internet Mum … but, there’s actually no other way to describe it … well there is but let’s keep this professional.
3 months in to landing a job in the career that I’d been desperate to have … I found out I was pregnant.
Feb 2009: Boom! Baby No#1
Sep 2010: Boom! Baby No#2
Jan 2011: Boom! Married
Being able to stay at home with my babies for 3.5 years was a privilege (don’t worry online Mum’s groups – I do get that) – but all day with preschoolers and shift-working/truck-driving husband who I barely saw, was a long way from my ideal dream life.
In 2012, I had to get back to work – FAST!
I thought it was hard finding a job before. With 1 years experience and 3.5 years out of the game – it was bloody preposterous!
After 6 looooong months of grafting for a job – someone took a chance on me and I was the proud new teacher of a mid-year, new-entrant reception room in Morrinsville. Yeah baby! I was back on track!
Kids come first
With my daughter starting school in 2014, I made the decision to leave the Morrinsville job which I LOVED so much, and find a school closer to home, that we could both attend. #FamilyFirst
Then – the opportunity that changed EVERYTHING!
Endeavour School – opening in 2015. Hamilton’s first purpose-built Innovative Learning Environment – and guess who got offered one of the 5 foundation staff-member roles!!!! See, I was even in the paper! (Thanks to Stuff.co.nz there’s even proof)
If you ever get an opportunity to be part of a foundation team in a new school – grab hold of it with both enthusiastically clammy hands. The professional development, networking opportunities and chances to shape the way a whole school works, is a truly transformative adventure!
THIS was special
THIS was what I’d dreamed of
THIS consumed me!
2015 – Marriage over
Couch-surfing around friends and family’s places with a 5 & 6 year old in tow for a couple of months before Mum & Dad helped me into my first home (thanks again guys xoxo).
Then came the request that really cranked up opinions of what I was capable of:
“Kate, can you do us a favour and be acting team leader for a bit? Our current one has just quit.”
Me; “Being a leader means that you have to tell people what to do, right?”
Everyone else; … crickets chirping …
Me; “Huh? There’s no training for this? Sweet, I’ll just do my best then.”
Narrator; Little did she know, ‘doing her best’ meant things were about to go horribly, horribly WRONG and her team would end up thinking she was an A-Grade BITCH!”
Then along came a spider… A … let’s just say ‘complex’ team member who taught me, that if you tell people what to do and when to do it, they will very quickly become reliant on you. So much so that you will be convinced that when they miss their deadlines, it’s your fault. When parents complain about them it’s your fault. When they fall off a chair that is precariously perched atop a stack of tables and library books, IT’S YOUR DAMN FAULT!
I was sent into a tailspin where I was forced to question everything that I was doing as a leader because my team was absolutely imploding.
The stress that I was under lead me to go into full-on research mode because I KNEW that there had to be a better way! Surely, there was a leadership style that meant that people in my team would stop relying on me, and start thinking for themselves.
And there it was – Coaching!
Once I started exploring Coaching, the flood gates opened! I found mentors and got my own coach. Then, I went to work on developing a leadership style that changed the entire culture of the team!
For those of you following along for the relationship status update part of the story, you’ll be thrilled to know that amongst all of this, I found the man of my dreams! He was the Board Chairman at the time so it caused quite the scandal. He stood down, the drama subsided, now we’re living the blended-family dream in the suburbs.
Top of the game
It wasn’t just me embracing Leadership as Coaching, it was the whole school. At the end of 2017 when we were looking at staffing for the following year, the Senior Leadership Team saw an opportunity for further distribution of leadership, and 3 Associate Principal positions were created. The main priority for these roles was to focus on the people side of teaching:
- Appraisals based on goals set by teachers themselves
- Progress recognised through conversations, not just observations
- 1 to 1 coaching with every teacher where they are free to explore their potential
- A leader who LISTENS – not – TELLS.
- A leader who QUESTIONS – not – ANSWERS.
… and guess who got offered one of those roles?
And just when I thought that I had peaked as an AP, I was offered a position as an Across School Teacher for the Te Pae Here Kahui Ako. This gave me the opportunity to take my Associate Principal job on the road. I wasn’t just coaching the 8 teachers in my team anymore, I had 19 schools worth of teachers wanting a piece of the action!
Hey, I’m quite good at this coaching thing!
People seem to really be getting a lot out of this.
Hold on what?!?! – business coaches are calling ME for advice.
… Is THIS what I need to be doing with the next stage of my life?
So here we are!
All of this has lead me to this point. I’ve handed in my resignation after 11 years of teaching. I’m walking away from a regular paycheck and job security to do something that I feel I can’t NOT do. Through Coaching Colab I’m going to do everything I can to help every teacher in New Zealand to LOVE the team that they work in. I want education in New Zealand to be so vibrant, energetic and deliriously enjoyable for everyone, that the whole world stops and take notice of what we’re doing! It’s a phenomenal career and it’s time we all made the very most of it.
W, X, Y, Z…
I know I didn’t get to the end of my wee alphabet story and I could say something really deep here like; “that’s because the journey doesn’t end here! I’m just getting started baby!” But you and I can both go about our days, knowing that the main reason that I ended things there is that finding a word that starts with an X would have toppled me right over the edge of sanity!
Go on now, go and do something tremendous!
I know you can.