Coming to terms with leadership


I just finished my first week as a PYP Coordinator, my first week out of the classroom since I started to teach just over ten years ago. When all the teachers and students went into their classrooms, I was left standing there wondering what to do. As that first day progressed, I went through some interesting thought processes.

I became aware that it was very difficult for anybody to see what I did with my time. As a teacher, what you’re doing is pretty obvious to everybody. But, when you’re not teaching full-time, nobody really has a clue what you’re up to! I noticed that I started trying to do everything and deal with every situation that came up. I wanted to give every issue my attention, and respond to every person. By the end of the day, I felt as though I had achieved very little.

I also became aware that I was taking one small step towards becoming irrelevant. I already, after one week, feel much less knowledgeable about actual pedagogy, less in touch with the day-to-day complexities of teaching and less in tune with the way kids think. I need to be very careful that I don’t start to make decisions that reflect this growing distance from the hotbed of teaching itself, and do everything in my power to remain as close to it as possible.

Another thing I felt very strongly, was my lack of a learning space – a place in which learning takes place. Let’s face it, an office is no place of learning.

By the end of the week, thank goodness, I felt I was starting to settle in to it a bit more. I spent lots of time with teachers in planning meetings, lots of time sitting in classrooms doing things with students and I also got in and did some teaching. I found myself doing many of the same behaviours as  when I was teaching full-time. I made a planning book for the week and started using it immediately. I started gathering and creating resources to use with teachers. I designed tasks to do in meetings that were very similar to the types of things I would do with students. I helped people out when they needed help, I gave advice about next steps and I tried my best to nurture the talents that exist within the team of teachers I work with. As the week, progressed, I began… more and more… to understand Kevin Bartlett’s “Cauliflower Principle” idea… and more and more determined to apply it to the way I do my job.



  1. Chye de Ryckel

    Hey there! Congratulations on becoming PYP coordinator! During my first month as PYP coordinator I found myself going through similar withdrawal symptoms that you described above. I’d love to hear more about some of the tasks you’re doing with teaching teams. Enjoy your week!

    • sherrattsam

      Thanks, Chye!

      Yes… “withdrawal symptoms”, that is a good way to describe it.

      I am putting together a posting about the planning task I am working on with teachers. Keep an eye out for it!

  2. Suzanne

    As a member of one of those teaching teams, I greatly appreciate what you have done already in the first week. The diagram you came up with for planning has helped our team break a cycle of less than productive conversations and given us a way forward with a unit that was lacking in too many areas.
    I am sure that your role now feels very different to being in the classroom, but the fact that you get to share your ideas and give input on so many more units is a definitely a positive thing for our staff.
    We are all looking forward to learning more from you.

    • sherrattsam

      Thanks, Suzanne – I’ll have to remember that people in my own school may be reading what I write on here!!!

      Lovely feedback, I hope I can be getting similar or better feedback as the year progresses.

  3. Paul Dunbar

    Hmm… fractal geometry and leadership… fractal leadership… fractals and the geometry of leadership…. definitely feel a book title coming on. Seriously though, fractal geometry is pretty interesting and it’s all about nature and growth – and describes things as they actually are. Could be an interesting conceit.

    “Fractals and the Geometry of Leadership – Genetically Enhancing Barrett’s Cauliflower.”

    Do want to write it, or shall I? I’ll let you do it, now you’ve got all this time on your hands 🙂

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