“Where is the professional development for principals?”
It is a recurring refrain in the New Zealand education sector. While teachers and middle leaders have some opportunities to grow in a professional capacity, principals often discover Springboard Trust amidst a lengthy search for their own high-level development.
Such was the case with Tamara Bell, principal at Southbridge Primary. A first-time principal in 2017, she felt there was a massive gap for principals’ own PLD. After hearing about the opportunities available through Springboard – but the lack of a Canterbury cohort – Blair Dravitski (Principal at Linwood Ave School) brought her together with an array of principals to help form the first South Island cohort in the Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme.
The building blocks of support
As Tamara tells it, every single workshop of SLPP was vital.
“I remember each and every meeting so vividly, even now. The impact that it has on me as a leader – it's the kind of learning you don’t forget.”
In particular, learning to give herself permission to take the big-picture view struck a chord.
“The workshops free you up, they allow you to be a leader. Things like focusing on what feeds you and what drains you, how to block out your calendar – how to let yourself spend time leading.”
“They’re things that, when you’re starting out as a principal, you just don’t know.”