My first day of the term was Teachers Only Day (TOD) and it was a little bit daunting. The staff at Morrinsville College is considerable smaller than Hamilton Girls' High School (HGHS) which has both pluses and minuses. In my interview for my new position I was asked "How will you get to know the staff?" which I found to be an interesting question given that I am only one person walking into a group of many. I was really aware before the first day of school that there would be staff who have established long term relationships with each other so this would make my "getting to know staff" quite challenging.
A colleague from another school had also made the following statement to me at the end of 2106 "It might pay to not be your complete self Vicki, perhaps ease your way in because Morrinsville are conservative people and if you want them to accept you it's going to take time". As we talked about my transition to Morrinsville College I can remember thinking "what am I going to do?". I was already aware of the challenge I would be facing but this discussion put me on edge a little. I found myself feeling like I did when I was as teenager and starting college at the beginning of form three. I was also amused at how, no matter how old we get we continue to face the dilemma of "will people accept me for who I am". The very thing that so many of our young people experience time and time again throughout their schooling.
I was nervous right up until about a week before school started wrestling with whether I would go "conservative" or just be myself. I went with being myself!
On reflection, my first day was pretty good. John introduced me to the staff and encouraged them to make me feel welcome. Throughout the TOD many of the staff did come and introduce themselves to me and it was great to see a couple of familiar faces from HGHS. I really appreciated that John reminded and encouraged staff to make me feel welcome and that they actually did.
I continue to be both excited and extremely nervous as I move in to the role of school counsellor. I feel inadequate for the position both hopeful that I will quickly become accustomed to the change that this new stage of my professional career will require of me. At the same time I am both excited and confident that I will be able to find my feet!
My number one goal for this year is to establish and develop genuine relationships with my colleagues, our students and their whanau. Given that I am new I see this as my top priority because no one knows me and I really believe to be effective in my work. I want to make a difference in my new school but I can't do it alone because I am just one person. Even though I will be working primarily as a school counsellor I will also be teaching and functioning in a leadership capacity.
There is another challenge for me in this new position - embracing tangata whenua and more authentically engaging in and practicing tikanga maori. I am exciting and nervous about this but really looking forward to shaping my practice as a teacher and counsellor in a way that genuinely reflects an understanding of bicultural partnering with our young people and their whanau.
The way I see it - I am working with people so my relationships with them have to come first!