Sunday, August 10, 2014

Culture Club

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I had decided the three day international educators job fair was far too intense and not the place to be making sudden life-altering decisions, like accepting jobs overseas. Even though I had made this decision, I found myself in a hotel room during my second interview with an international school. I listened to my interviewers speak about the school and how I could be of benefit and it filled me with a sense of excitement and purpose. They allowed me time to think over their proposal, but I had already changed my mind. I was moving to China.

In the months to come before the big move, I had many conversations. The key question which kept coming up was ‘what made you choose the school and China?’ I didn’t have an answer back then, all I could say was it was a gut feeling and felt right.

Now I know better.

During the interview and conversation, my interviewers and I made mutual connections and links with our WHY. A combination of values, beliefs and world-views, combining to create a kaupapa (essence/ philosophy), which is hard to articulate because it is associated with part of the brain responsible for all our feelings. Therefore, rationalising our decisions into words can only be described as 'a gut feeling'.

Culture Club http://www.last.fm
Last week I began my induction into the school and the same feelings were confirmed through listening and discussion with members of the school.
The Business Director spoke to me about the success the school has had with its co-leadership model. The School Directors reaffirmed the holistic mission statements of the school in a variety of ways ensuring we all knew which way the ship was heading. Returning teachers spoke about the school being a family and how they were there to help in any way, embodying the guiding principles. The new teachers (including myself) spoke about how we have felt safe and supported through the transition, and valued by being acknowledged for the attributes we bring.

This was summed up when the Elementary Director invited us to become members of the Culture Club. A club focusing on attitude, treating others the way we would like to feel and ensuring our actions are developing a caring, safe environment.

For a while, I had been feeling a restlessness around the idea of leadership. What I was seeing and experiencing created unease, and like the gut feeling which connected me to people’s WHY. I was, also, feeling a disconnection to other’s WHY. I didn’t understand, and even though it’s completely acceptable to have these feelings, I wasn’t letting go of them. Until I stumbled across a talk by Bob Chapman who spoke about Truly Human Leadership. I understand that this is what I want to model to my students and those around me, and by discovering this, I was able to let go of previous feelings regarding leadership. Fortunately, I have found a place which encompasses the same values and I hope to grow and develop in this Culture Club and that my presence benefits the club, too.

Through this discovery about leadership and culture, I've started making goals for myself. However, it's important to acknowledge what got me to this point. A calculated risk, based on gut feeling, and how the importance of this decision-making resonates with a deeply entrenched personal kaupapa. Something which we should all trust as we never know where it will lead us...
Path to my apartment in China