Tuesday, April 23, 2024

More work than meets the eye

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 Pakuranga College student Camron Smith took over principal’s Michael Williams’ hot seat for the day. Photo supplied

Smile at the students when they come in; ask them how their weekend was and be more engaging and develop a deeper appreciation for performing arts.

These are some of the guidelines Year 13 student Camron Smith put to staff when she was principal for the day at Pakuranga College.

Camron traded seats with school principal Michael Williams who attended classes.

Monday morning for the feisty 17-year-old student was packed with a line-up of meetings, conducting the school assembly and even fitting in an interview the Times.

“I was in school by 7.40am, an hour before everyone,” says the youngster.

“I had meetings with the deputy principals and other staff on what lessons to take.

“I had a staff briefing at 8:15am where I told staff that I’d like for them, for one day, to focus on producing a more engaging classroom environment working on the positive student-teacher relationships as I said, ‘After four and a half years of extensive research having a teacher that you feel genuinely cares about you and your progress boosts one’s self esteem and motivation to work harder.’

Year 13 student Camron Smith (centre back row) enjoyed playing principal for the day at Pakuranga College. Pictured here with Year 10 students in mufti and Year 13 students in uniform. Photo supplied.

Camron suggested more activities so that the students were more awake in the morning.

“We are half way through the year and it’s cold and gloomy, making it difficult for students to focus.”

She says planning the school assembly involved three meetings with head students and Mr Williams.

“At the assembly, the Year 10 leaders spoke as head students. However, we finished earlier than usual and had some time on our hands but we managed,” she laughs.

She noticed that Mr Williams, as a student, didn’t quite start his day on the right foot.

“He did a bit of skipping as warm-up for the drama class and hurt a muscle.”

Michael Williams attended drama class and was student for the day at Pakuranga College. Photo supplied.

She says she enjoyed handing out certificates to students during the day and sitting in at the back of the classroom to do some observation.

“I will be sitting in a Year 12 Maths class to give feedback on how new teachers interact with students.”

One-on-one with deputy principals and the appraiser from the Board of Trustees who reminds the principal of the school goals, makes an inquiry and writes a report at the end of the year was all a part of the day’s job.

Being principal for the day is a yearly event run by the Academic Council with an application process. The exchange involved Year 13 head students attending the Year 10 classes while the leaders of Year 10 attended the Year 13 physics class, which they found tough to follow.

“I also had these Year 10 art students come up to me saying ‘Hi miss, do you know what a ‘dab’ is?’ And I thought gosh do I really look that old!

“So after telling them I was a student, and I was the acting principal for the day, they photographed me doing a ‘dab’… that was probably the funniest part of the day, junior students not recognising that I was actually a student at the school and calling me ‘Miss’ “ she laughs.

However, the biggest eye-opener for Camron was the amount of work that goes on behind-the-scenes.“The principal does so much more work than meets the eye,” she says.

“I have a deeper appreciation for the principal and his job because it is not an easy one. Students only get to see a fraction of what really goes on in the school.”

Camron quickly learnt that a principal’s day is action-packed and time management is key!

“Being on time for a meeting with the principal is also vital as he has a lot of other things to achieve in his day,” she says.

“Speeches, speeches and more speeches also constitute a principal’s life, so always being aware of your goals, progress, and audience is key to delivering an impactful message.

“Every few minutes there is someone popping in his room to talk to him. I had at least 15 people come in wanting to discuss something with him.

“I’d say to them, ‘he’s not here but you can talk to me’.”




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