This afternoon, I was conducting some interviews with a panel of facilitators and learners. At the end of an interview process, I always like to incorporate the standard practice of asking candidates what they want to know from myself or others on the committee. Today, a whole three days into my adventure as a principal, I was asked what my priorities were in the coming school year and I realized that it really boiled down to one thing that would help set all other priorities for the year: I need to listen.
Part of joining any new school is learning about the climate and culture of the institution. Knowing what is important about the school to the learners, parents, facilitators, and the community is a vital first step to being able to do anything else. Of course, with it being only three days in, I am only beginning to scratch the surface of what this feedback looks like. When you also consider that it is mid-July, there are a number of these constituents that are out of town or taking care of other responsibilities, which makes getting feedback even more difficult. So, my job of listening has only just begun and will continue in the days and weeks ahead.
Since listening is so important, it has me being very intentional about how I interact with others and has brought a sense of awareness to the process. I particularly enjoy what this Harvard Business Review article has to say about the process of being a good listener. I also really enjoyed the feedback that I got today when I was able to listen to our learners talk about what they like about the school and what they look for in the leaders of the school. I don't know if other principals get such meaningful feedback from their learners, but I will add the insights of my learners to the ever-expanding column of pro's that I have found in this new journey.