I’m two weeks into my annual future plan meetings with all of my administrators. Forty-five minute meetings with approximately 40 principals, associate principals and central office administrators is certainly a time commitment but a very worthwhile endeavour. There is little doubt of the impact on succession planning given the honest information I receive from my Learning Leadership Team on their future goals and aspirations. My job should always include creating more leaders not more followers and so any influence I can leverage to assist them in capacity building and career development is essential. Listening to them tell me about their preferred future or where they want to be when they reach retirement age provides me the ability to both enhance their own leadership capacity and build a stronger organization. Opening these types of conversations to all staff through my weekly Superintendent Chat has further extended this learning.
In my mind change fosters growth and the development of multiple perspectives. Even as a smaller division, we have a culture where administrators transfer to other schools. It is part of their growth and it is simply what we do. It is never done as a punitive measure but always seeks, as mentioned above, to build leadership capacity and a stronger organization. I’m not suggesting that every transfer comes without some trepidation on an individual’s part but the success rate of growth is impressive. Administrators gain new perspectives when changing schools which accentuates growth and diversifies skill sets. While I’ve worked with some tremendous administrators who have only had one school or level experience, multiple school experiences are preferred. Moving school based administrators also creates a stronger divisional culture, where the competition between schools is replaced by collaboration amongst schools.
While we’ve not achieved the same level of transfers for teachers, I’m so very proud of those who have already taken the opportunity to request a move. Taking that plunge from the known to unknown and comfortable to uncomfortable should be recognized. Although some are interested in administration and thirsty for the learning they will gain from this new perspective, some just want to change in order to grow farther. Regardless of the motivation, I applaud those teachers.
Transfers are complicated because the goal is success for the individual and both the leaving and receiving school. Sometimes in a smaller system there are not as many opportunities to transfer. But when possible and within a strong system with a trusting environment, the benefits of a transfer most certainly outweigh any bumps along the way.
Most school systems are already preparing for staffing for the upcoming year. I would hope that opportunities for transfers at the administration and teacher levels are encouraged and supported. Gaining multiple perspectives, working with new people and taking a step into the unknown and uncomfortable is a great recipe for growth and development.