This is a guest blogpost written by a primary school principal who runs the teaching instagram account ‘Journey of a Primary Principal.’ She offers practical advice, support and ideas for primary teachers and principals and I’m constantly screenshooting and saving these ideas! Definitely someone to follow!
A bit of background
I taught for 15 years in a large school, and loved it. I had an AP2 post but never had any aspiration to be a principal. I think it just seemed like a different job altogether to teaching!
A new school opened locally- it had only 3 students- but after meeting the new principal, I was intrigued. It was multi d, and her personal ideologies about teaching really spoke to me. I knew that they would be taking on a new teacher the following year.
All year, it played on my mind. Would I really leave the school that I loved? Leave my permanent job for a fixed term? In the end, I decided to leave it up to fate- I would apply, and if I got the job, I would see where it took me.
I got the job and honestly, I was filled with so much excitement and an equal measure of anxiety. The school was growing to 45 students, and as second teacher, I was taking on more responsibility than I had in my old school. I felt ready- my children were now longer babies, and I had plenty of teaching experience.
Working with that principal was honestly a life changing experience. She was so clear in her vision, she worked so hard and she was kind and warm and fun. Unfortunately (for me, not for her, obviously!!) she was pregnant and took her maternity leave at the end of December and ended up moving home. I acted up from Jan to June and honestly, I just made sure that every child got home safely every day, no more. I put all of my energy into teaching and just did the absolutely minimum for the principal side of things.
Becoming the principal
When it became clear that our principal was not returning after mat leave, I had a real crisis of confidence. I really couldn’t see myself as a principal. I love people, and chats, and I had a genuine fear that if I became principal, I would lose a connection with the other teachers in my school. However, it was pointed out to me that if I didn’t apply, I was leaving the door open for a stranger to come in and change the school in whatever way they felt fit. At this stage, we had 54 children looking to join junior infants the following year, and a wonderful relationship with each family, so I decided to give it a go.
4 years later, my job has changed so much. We have 260 pupils now, 16 teachers, 3 SNAs and a secretary. I no longer teach, but I am busy in a different way.
I have days when I wonder what on earth I am doing, but on the whole, I am so glad that life has taken me along this path. It has changed me in ways that I could never have imagined, and has allowed me to dig deep inside myself for strength that I never knew I had.