Friday, 29 January 2016

Scaling the mountain to principalship: The barriers and the enablers of a female first time principal’s journey - chapter 15 advice from Janet

Chapter Fifteen: Advice from Janet

I end with Janet’s voice as it is her story and her three pieces of advice for women who are considering becoming principals:
·         I have to be honest, I would say to anybody, yourself included, if you are thinking about it, a principal’s position is not a job, it’s a life, you actually live it 24/7.

She adds

a lot of people wouldn’t agree but it has huge implications on your time with your family so wait until they (the children) are older. At least when they are already in high school to be able to cope and do both [be a mother and be a principal].

·         Find yourself a good mentor when you are a DP (deputy principal).

·         Don’t ever be ashamed to say you don’t know. There is no such thing as a dumb question.  I ask them all the time because I don’t know how you can find out if you don’t ask.

Scaling the mountain to principalship: The barriers and the enablers of a female first time principal’s journey - chapter 14 recommendations

Chapter Fourteen: Recommendations
I have drawn out a number of recommendations on how to support future female leaders from Janet’s career life history for women principals and other female school leaders, schools and the Ministry of Education/Government.  These recommendations come with two aims.  Firstly, to enable more women to climb to the top of the mountain and become principals in the current neo-liberal climate by understanding who and what can support them on their ascension to principalship as well as how to navigate around the barriers which are stopping them or slowing them down.  Secondly, to advocate for a powerful political shift in society which breaks down the barriers once and for all (Grogan & Shakeshaft, 2011).  The cited literature provides further support for the recommendations.

14.1 Recommendations for women principals (and other female senior leaders)  
1.    Consciously provide role modelling and be encouragers for other female staff and students:

a.    Shaping their role to fit in with their family commitments.

b.    Demonstrating how to “take care with two hands” and by being present in the area of life she is currently engaged in instead of juggling responsibilities (R. McNae, personal communication, September 3, 2015).

14.2 Recommendations for schools
1.    Introduce gender mainstreaming into their policies and procedures:

a.    Ensuring that the criteria for a principal position does not stop women from being shortlisted or hired (Correll, 2013).

b.    Quota systems for women to be shortlisted (Eliophotou-Menon, Koutselini & Charalambidou-Solomi, 2015; Gentleman, 2015; Lyman et al., 2012; Young & McLeod, 2001).

c.    Holding panel members accountable after the interview by giving reasons why they selected or did not select someone (Correll, 2013).

2.    Provide consciousness raising professional learning in relation to social justice and equity issues for all staff and students.

3.    Ensure that the Board of Trustee members are trained around equity issues in relation to recruitment using New Zealand Schools Trustees Association “Effective Governance – Employer Role” (4).

4.    Change the norms regarding the interaction of work and family situations and ensure that flexible workers, in which women are the majority, are not penalised either financially and/or through less non-contact time (Ministry of Education, 2008). 

5.    Encourage fathers to take up parental leave.

6.    “Wait for” (Fuller, 2015) women to return from maternity leave and encourage them to take on roles with responsibility if they choose to when they have children, and provide on-site childcare if possible.

7.    Leaders in schools and the Board of Trustees should actively recruit female teachers to sign up to the National Aspiring Principals Programme and to University Educational Leadership Programmes.

14.3 Recommendations for the Ministry of Education / Government
1.    Provide training during The National Aspiring Principals and First Time Principal programmes on mentoring skills and “hard skills” such as how to use data effectively and financial planning.

2.    Set up networks for women leaders at different stages in their careers, perhaps using technology to create alternative meeting spaces (Grogan & Shakeshaft, 2011). 

3.    Create a model of compulsory education in New Zealand for pre-principalship.

4.    Initiate the recommendations from the National Council of Women of New Zealand report “Enabling women’s potential – the economic, social and ethical imperative” (2015).

5.    Follow Sweden’s model of compulsory parental leave for fathers.

Scaling the mountain to principalship: The barriers and the enablers of a female first time principal’s journey - chapter 13 conclusion

Chapter Thirteen: Conclusion
13.1 Janet’s climb to principalship – the barriers and the enablers as a visual metaphor

Figure 2 Samantha Mortimer’s visual metaphor of Janet’s barriers and enablers (drawn by Jenni Bayliss)

I adapted Abaida Mahmood’s visual metaphor by adding the three barriers that directly influenced Janet to wait to become a principal until a later stage in her career and/or made the journey to the top more complicated.  One, Janet’s gender; two, being a wife; and three, being a mother to a school aged child.
I then inserted the five factors that enabled Janet to ascend the mountain.  One, her strong belief in social justice as Janet wanted to change the status quo by giving all young people a chance. Two, her support systems, who helped sustain her during transitional times and beyond.  Three, her mentors who guided her throughout her career path to the present day.  Four, professional development which crafted Janet into a self-reflective and self-directed learner. Five, a change in her identity over time until she finally believed that she had the agentic traits needed to become a principal. This self-belief collided with her circumstances and gave her the confidence to apply for a principal position.  

Scaling the mountain to principalship: The barriers and the enablers of a female first time principal’s journey - Chapter Twelve: Discussion

Chapter Twelve: Discussion
I started this research to gain greater insight into the influences on the journey of a woman who has “arrived” at the apex of school leadership in New Zealand.  This investigation has revealed that there are no magic answers into how women can prepare for the position but it does document Janet’s career path and therefore her life journey (Jones & Le Fevre, 2015). My conviction has been strengthened that from very early on in their careers women need to be aware of the barriers that may stop or slow them down on their trek upwards towards principalship especially in New Zealand’s neo-liberal context and learn how to navigate through or around them.  Simultaneously, women must grow the enablers that will support them in any future expeditions.   Individual women do have to take responsibility and champion themselves (Kelsey et al., 2014) but society also needs a political shift to incorporate these ideas (Grogan & Shakeshaft, 2011). 

12.1 Confidence “I didn’t have the confidence, I actually didn’t think that I could do the job” (Janet)
One of the key themes that came through in my interview with Janet was her confidence in her own ability to contemplate principalship.  Men often just take a chance on a promotion whereas women may feel like they need to tick all the boxes before they can confidently apply for a role (Futures Leaders Trust as cited in Tickle, 2015, September, 29).  Society must find ways to develop confidence in female leaders by building up the enablers and minimising or breaking the barriers to guarantee an increase in the number of female principals in schools as well as male principals who do not fit into a constricting masculine construct (Moorosi, 2015). 

12.2 Strengthening enablers
The enablers that guided Janet up the mountain towards principalship and also keep her strong while she stays there include: role models, mentors, networks and professional development.  It is important for other female future leaders that individual women, schools and the Ministry of Education/Government consider how to strengthen these enablers.

12.3 Principals as role models to boost women’s confidence
Principals, including Janet, hold powerful positions and their leadership impacts on large populations of students and staff as they enact expectations about how men and women should behave (Fawver, 2014; Fuller, 2013).  Cultural scripts are immersed and learned across the gender divide reproducing social codes and behaviour (Shah, 2015) and if there are not female principals, such as Janet, in positions of power then power becomes associated only with males (Lumby, 2009).  Of course there shouldn’t be tokenism but as humans vicariously learn women and girls along with men and boys need a range of role models (Fawver, 2014; Neale & Ozkanli, 2011; Painter-Morland, 2011).  By challenging negative perceptions and stereotypes, and specifically showing that being a principal and a mother of young children is compatible (Tickle, 2015, June 2), would-be female leaders will be encouraged to scale the mountain and a wide pool of successful women leaders can be developed (Sanchez & Thornton, 2010; Webster, 2015). 

12.4 Mentors and networks to support women leaders
Mentors helped Janet and continue to assist other women to increase their self-concept, self-belief and confidence levels in their career development and psychosocial roles (Christman & McClellan, 2008; Kelsey et al., Litmanovitz, 2011; 2014; Randell, 2015; Sanchez & Thornton, 2010; Sherman, 2005).  However, mentors need to be reflective and if possible trained (Jones & Le Fevre, 2015; Wilson-Tagoe, 2015).  Alongside this a mentee needs someone she respects and admires (Shoaf & Britt, 2009); someone who owns her values, thoughts and emotions and who “walks the talk” (Gardner, Avolio, Luthans, May & Walumba, 2005; Shamir & Eilam, 2005; Shoaf & Britt, 2009).  If a woman cannot find a mentor or needs extra assistance she could join a network for women leaders to counteract the old boys club (Martin, 2015; Masters, 2015; Wilson-Tagoe, 2015). This network could organise opportunities to shadow female principals (Kelsey et al., 2014; Taukamo, 2011), give encouragement and increase confidence levels. 

12.5 Professional development as an enabler
Janet identified professional development as an enabler in her career path.  She concurs with Patuawa (2006) that experience or “just in time learning” is the most powerful.  However, formal professional learning may boost women further up the mountain as female exceptional candidates may create a more level playing field to compete with males (Shakeshaft et al., 2015; Skinner, 2009). 
The National Aspiring Principals Programme and the University Educational Leadership Programmes are avenues which could specifically support female leaders as advocated by Taukamo (2011) in New Zealand for Māori women, Oplatka and Tamir (2009) in Israel, and Young and McLeod (2001) in the USA.  A proposal of the Pay and Employment Equity Review (Ministry of Education, 2008) was that the National Aspiring Principals Programme should provide specific career development for women but this hasn’t been specified as part of its remit from the Ministry of Education (J. Lunn, National Aspiring Principals Programme, personal communication, October 15, 2015).  Currently, the focus of the National Aspiring Principals Programme is on developing “adaptive, culturally responsive, digitally literate leaders through inquiry learning, and building their understanding of the research base around leadership” which are all vitally important skills especially relationship building and conflict resolution (Duncan, 2013).  Regrettably, as women like Janet, already have some of these skills through their pastoral responsibilities in school (Coleman, 2009) this remit may limit them because they need to develop the “hard skills” for their neo-liberal principal tool kit.  Janet specifically discussed her lack of financial skills that she needs now as a principal. 

12.6 Pulling down barriers
Gender is a common theme in Janet’s identified barriers and women’s choices can be encumbered by society’s expectations of them (Hansen, 2014). Janet did not verbalise that becoming a wife or a mother was a barrier (with all the negative connotations associated with the word barrier itself) in her career path towards principalship.  Nevertheless, as shown above, gender barriers still do exist for women (and some men) and that individual female leaders in schools, schools themselves and the Ministry of Education/Government should consider how to pull them down.

12.7 Conscious raising - with the whole school community
One way to pull down the gender barriers is through consciousness raising with the whole school community.  Leadership is still defined in masculine terms and women are “systematically and systemically” (Reilly, Bauer, McNee & Reed, 2015) subordinated through the construction of masculinities (Hansen, 2014).  Prestigious positions are seen as male only by both men and women (Fitzgerald & Wilkinson, 2010; Kelsey et al., 2014; Lyman et al., 2012) and female leaders, like Janet, as well as men, who might not display the masculine attributes associated with principalship (Fawver, 2014) will continue to find their journey difficult until these stereotypes are destroyed.  New Zealand needs authentic leaders who can walk the talk and are trusted by the whole school community if it is to advance social justice outcomes (Gardner et al., 2005; Lyman et al., 2012) and authentic leaders come in all shapes and sizes, ethnicities and genders.

To challenge the stereotypes of educational leaders (Hansen, 2014) society needs to have macro-institutional change driven at a micro-institutional level in this case schools as they are developmental institutions (Morrison, Blood & Thorsborne, 2005).  However, before teachers can develop students they need to be given many opportunities to discuss social justice concerns where stereotypes of gender and leadership are explored (Grogan & Shakeshaft, 2011) and reflect why they believe what they do (Coleman, 2009; Gardner et al., 2005; Lyman et al., 2012; Raffo & Gunter, 2008). 

Once this has happened teachers can use ako (3) (Ka Hikitia, 2008) by collaborating with our young people to build an understanding of social justice issues and equity including: what leadership is, their perceptions of who leaders can be, as well as build their (students and teachers) own capacity and confidence to see themselves as leaders (Blackmore, 2009; Kelsey et al., 2014).  By doing this schools can mould culturally and ecologically conscious whānau (and communities) who are capable of caring for and contributing to the well-being of others (Taysum & Gunter, 2008). 

12.8 Gender mainstreaming and offering a pluralistic approach
A second way to break down gender inequity and to build a “gender positive culture” is by schools putting gender back on their agendas (National Council of Women of New Zealand, 2015, p. 37).  To do this they could utilise gender mainstreaming which is a “gender-political instrument” (Bauer, 2015) to assess the different implications for women and men of any planned policy action, including processes, policies and programmes in all areas and levels. When applied in the right way gender mainstreaming creates new chances and resources for an organisation to achieve gender equity for both sexes by offering a pluralistic approach that values the diversity among both women and men (Bauer, 2015). It places a “gender lens” (Bauer, 2015; Ministry of Education, 2008; Robinson & Shakeshaft, 2015) on different circumstances and investigates the interests of women and men on a regular basis in all development plans since there is “no gender-neutral reality” (Gruber, 2015, p. 45). 

12.9 Being a wife and a mother - keeping women “on ramp”
For New Zealand society to have the best people, like Janet, as principals it is important that policies in schools are implemented to abolish the barriers that stop mothers from becoming leaders if they choose to.  Schools need to keep women “on ramp” by understanding the complexities of women’s non-linear careers and by being prepared to support not punish this (Hewlett, Luce, Schiller & Southwell, 2005). Men (and women) need to be taught to “wait for” women on maternity leave and nurture them to gain or retain positions of leadership when or if they return (Fuller, 2015) perhaps by providing onsite childcare. 
Most studies pinpointed a supportive spouse and a delay of career until children are older, which I also found in my study with Janet, as the factors that make the time commitment to a principal role more bearable (Kelsey et al., 2014) but this is not the case for all women.  Some women don’t have a supportive spouse or desire to become a principal when their children are younger.  Therefore schools have to support all women if they choose the very time consuming, multi-layered and multi-faceted position of principal (Duncan, 2013; Fuller, 2013). 
12.10 The role of fathers
As well as breaking down the barriers for mothers there also needs to be a change in the attitudes and values towards fathers’ roles including the stigma for men attached to parental leave.  In the UK less than 10% of men are taking more than their two weeks statutory leave as research by law firm Slater and Gordon revealed that they are too embarrassed to ask for more (2014, as cited in Jenkin, 2015).  In New Zealand paid and unpaid parental leave can be transferred to fathers (Ministry of Business, 2011) but the majority of men in New Zealand do not take more than the minimum (Gibson, 2013, July 17). "[A]s at 30 June 2014, there were 659 employees (1.4% of the workforce) on parental leave, 643 of whom were female and 16 male (2013 figures were 617 total, 603 female and 14 males)" (State Services Commission, 2014, March 12). To counteract this in Sweden the Government insists that from 2016 men must take 3 months of the 16 months of parental leave (France-Presse, 2015, May 28).

12.11 My reflection
I have touched on the barriers and enablers in the climb to principalship for one female, New Zealand European principal who is over the age of fifty.  Women are not a homogenous or collective group (Fitzgerald & Wilkinson, 2010) and each woman leads with her intersecting identities (O’Brien & Shea, 2010) and has different enablers and barriers.  However, I have to agree that it is easier to say: “let’s fix the women problem” (Smooth, 2010) by itself as social relations of gender and its intersection with other socio-cultural categories such as race, ethnicity and socio-economic status are much more complex (Fitzgerald & Wilkinson, 2010; Lyman et al., 2012).  I am also the first to admit that I need to have more understanding about how socio-cultural characteristics influence not only career paths but lives generally (Fitzgerald & Wilkinson, 2010;  Grogan & Sherman Newcomb, 2015) and have a greater appreciation that they cannot be examined separately from one another (Grogan & Sherman Newcomb, 2015).
Janet has given me many insights into the principal role and her career path has thrown up new thoughts and revelations to myself and hopefully others.  Society needs to build the confidence of future women leaders to believe that they can be effective, authentic principals as themselves and do not have to try become “one of them” (Webster, 2015) and join the old boys club, albeit as an honorary member.  It is essential that New Zealand society encourages and advocates for principals who have similar values to Janet as these principals have passion for their communities and don’t want to see “any more kids falling through the cracks.”  They are prepared to find creative ways to reconcile social justice aspirations with neo-liberal market constraints (Stevenson, 2007) to create equitable outcomes for all students to escape from “exploitation, economic marginalisation and deprivation” (Taysum & Gunter, 2008, p. 197). 


Scaling the mountain to principalship: The barriers and the enablers of a female first time principal’s journey - chapter 11 Janet as a principal now and in the future

Chapter Eleven: Janet as a principal now and in the future
It is impossible to separate Janet’s career path upwards towards principalship from her actually arriving at the pinnacle.  This is because all of the experiences and influences in her career and life, including her barriers and enablers, have led her to where she is now. 
11.1 “Put on my stage face” (Janet)
As principal Janet had broken through the glass ceiling but soon discovered that she was at the top of a “glass cliff” (Ryan & Haslam, 2005).  Janet’s “glass cliff” was a school where there were many changes occurring in the education of the whole community combined with the poverty of the area as well as it being a rural school, which is seen as less desirable in New Zealand (Strachan, 2009).  This can generate high levels of stress for principals (Robinson & Shakeshaft, 2015) and ultimately the failure of the school.  Janet recalled how this happened to another female first time principal: “to me it was almost like they (The Ministry of Education) sacrificed [her] just to get something.”
Janet still has days when she thinks “what the hell am I doing?” and is the first to admit that she’s “made a couple of mistakes.”  However, her passion for social justice, her sense of responsibility for the community and the school exude from her and although “nothing happens quickly” she knows that this is the place for her to be as “we can’t have any more kids falling through the cracks and doing nothing.”  Therefore, even when times are tough “because there is many a day inside these four walls I’ve cracked, cried under the sun I can’t do this” Janet puts on her “stage face” and becomes “the best actor there is because no one can see that you are not coping because as they see you are not coping everything else falls apart.”

11.2 “You just don’t have that time” (Janet)
One of the reasons Janet was reluctant to become a principal was that she “saw what the secondary principals did” and how they were in their “office all the time and [we] never saw them.”   Unfortunately this fear has become her reality too as she commented “I worked that night to 8 o’clock just to sort out the issues that had come up during the two hours [I was out] from my office.”  Janet spends her Saturdays “going around watching the kids playing sport as the principal” but she also includes the sports her previous principals never made it to as when a principal showed up … it was always significant to the kids.”   
Also in relation to time and a lack of work/life balance which comes from working in very difficult circumstances (Strachan, 2009) Janet commented:                            
You just don’t have that time so I’ve sacrificed. I don’t play sport, so I come to        school and I work 6 to 6, six days a week, so I work Sundays and when I go       home, if hubby is home we will share a meal together, that is about the extent of it, and if he is not home I go home, terrible diet, I just eat whatever is fastest             to cook, get out the laptop and carry on working, so honestly I don’t do          anything other than work.

11.3 “I miss the children” Janet
A second reason Janet was reluctant to taking on a principal role was that she worried she would miss time with the students.  As principal her focus is on
when’s ERO coming; what’s the latest complaint from the community; have          we got enough money for this; a teacher’s on maternity leave so I’ve got to            get staff for that…. It is really funny as not one of those things actually            features the kids.

Yet Janet is a very child centred person.  She keeps toys in her room “so that a child brought by a parent could play, even though the older child was there for disciplinary reasons.” She is “trying to establish a culture, send them to me when they have done good stuff, I want to see them when they’re awesome.”  Janet also aims to maintain links to the students which she was so worried about losing by going back to the classroom: “I taught a music class last term and it was absolutely delightful.”  However, when Janet is out of her office she does pay for it in time although questions the rationality of it               
I worked that night to 8 o’clock just to sort out the issues that had come up during the two hours from my office and it was sort of like it is a sacrifice that you make to leave your office but you should be able to leave your office and walk around the school.

11.4 “Whānau orientated” (Janet)
Janet’s commitment to people is also focussed on her staff.  She is “very whānau orientated” which she thinks is “very much a female thing” and “it is really important to me as a woman.”  Janet actually organises the beginning of the year family barbeque herself because “teachers in this school can only do their job as well as they do because they have support because husbands or wives and patient children get seen second.”  During “parent interviews, we organise for senior students to look after the [teachers] children.”  She also has “more empathy for female staff in the sense that my deputy principal’s got two little children and I worry about her, the amount of hours she spends here.”  Janet has begun to start mentoring with her senior leadership team “because I would like to think that either of these two deputy principals will step in here when I leave so they can carry on [with it.] “ 

11.5 Action needed to “change” the status quo
Although Janet does “carry the can” as principal she doesn’t let this stop her enacting her own resistance to neo-liberalism as she wants to improve social justice at her school by changing the “excess of standardisation in favour of a more creative curriculum” (Skerrett, 2009, p.10).  Janet, as both principal and as a resident for 35 years, wishes to “raise the bar” with the dress code of teachers and students, as by raising standards she believes student outcomes will be improved (Gold, Evans, Earley, Halpin & Collarbone, 2003; Skerrett, 2009; Theoharis, 2007).  Principals are responsible for the education of children in a society that sets excessive store on educational qualifications as the measure of children’s success and school effectiveness (Fuller, 2013). Janet understands this but also knows that she desires the best for everyone not just the “small line” of academic students and therefore turned the “timetable on its head.”
Our philosophy is that if we can have every child in this school leaving with a driver’s licence of some sort and our 18 year olds if they can have a fork-lift driver’s licence, with liaison with the local company, they can get jobs. Every child will leave with a barista qualification and a first aid certificate because those three things will get them a job before NCEAs

11.6 What next?  This is “definitely my swan song” (Janet)
Someone asked Janet “what’s your next project?” and she replied “I haven’t finished this one yet.”  She continued by saying

            this school is definitely my swan-song. I’m 55 now, I was 52 when I took on          my first position as principal and now at 55 I sort of look at it and think this is          my home. I’m going to give it the next ten years so basically to me this is it.

Scaling the mountain to principalship: The barriers and the enablers of a female first time principal’s journey - Chapter Ten: Where Janet’s identity and circumstances collided

Chapter Ten: Where Janet’s identity and circumstances collided
Janet needed a change in her self-perception and the concept of her identity to contemplate the journey upwards to principalship but she also needed the circumstances in her life to be right too.
10.1 “It was like, well maybe I could do this” (Janet)
Identity, which is partly self-constructed and partly socially constructed within relationships with people is not singular but multiple, discursive and contradictory and a person may be multi-voiced and take up multiple positions (Bell, 2011; Fuller, 2013).  Identity can also change over time and a person’s choices can be fluid (Lumby, 2009).  
Janet identified herself as a daughter, wife, mother, teacher, dean, assistant principal and then deputy principal in her career life story.  However, she did not see herself as a principal until she was in her 50s even though “in the early days I had always wanted to be a principal … I was cocky young teacher.”  Unfortunately, she was put in “her place very early on” by a variety of people including a senior mistress who told her to get changed at a dance and her first mentor who told her to watch her “ps & qs” as she was “fairly outspoken.”  Janet was also “put off a little bit by being a principal. I don’t really know what put me off or why I changed my mind of being a principal but I really wanted to keep in contact with the kids.”  In England, Oplatka and Tamir (2009) also discovered that the women they interviewed did not want to lose contact with students and this stopped them from choosing to advance towards headship.  Later on in her career as deputy principal Janet said that “I lost my confidence that I could actually be a principal and one of the reasons for that was going to deputy principal conferences, [which were] very heavily male.” Janet could not equate her identity as a woman to her identity as a principal; she did not see herself as having the necessary characteristics to be able to handle such a position at that time which concurs with Fawver’s (2014) literature review on women and leadership.

Wiendling and Dimmock (2006) concluded from their research that acting as the head was a valuable experience for their UK head teachers prior to their first appointment and this was definitely the case for Janet.  For many women identity is linked to confidence (Bosak & Sczesny, 2008; Duncan, 2013) and being the principal for a term increased Janet’s confidence.  This allowed her to psychologically transition from deputy principal to principal-in-the-making.  This confidence, which was partly from her formed positive relationship with the two staunch teachers, enabled Janet to see herself as a principal and believe “well maybe I could do this.”

At the same time as her psychological change there was a collision of circumstances (Lumby, 2009).   Her roles as wife and mother became more flexible when her daughter left home and she felt that she had more time to dedicate to the principal role which is similar to the conclusions of Hansen (2014) and Young and McLeod (2001).  Janet and her husband made a conscious decision that if she became a principal they would just have to get through theirannus horribilis.” They decided that the emphasis would be on Janet’s career and her role and “how that can be supported and that sort of thing.”  Therefore, when a principal position became available in her home town where she had “taught both the parents and their children” she knew that the time was right to apply for it because she felt that she needed to develop her community.

Scaling the mountain to principalship: The barriers and the enablers of a female first time principal’s journey - chapter 9 ENABLERS IN JANET’S CLIMB TO PRINCIPALSHIP - professional learning

Chapter Nine: Professional learning
Some professional learning was a booster for Janet in her quest to the top but she questioned the validity of all of it.
9.1 “Some of the best teachers I had were the ones with no qualifications” (Janet)
Janet did find some of her formal professional learning useful but when she employs people she states “I look to see that they’ve got a qualification but it is not the important thing to me.”  She believes this because “when I think of my own schooling, some of the best teachers I had were the ones with no qualifications and the ones who had all the qualifications under the sun, I learnt nothing from them.”
Janet left her teacher training course before she had completed her degree in education because at that time “years of experience was more important than your qualifications.”  It wasn’t until she was a deputy principal that she took six months study leave to finish the four papers and acquire “the little qualification” to put after her name.  Janet has doubts about the current system as the university lecturers in her degree course would say to the second and third year teachers “you just need to have curriculum, then you can have the kids eating out of the palm of your hand. Never mind classroom management, you don’t need to worry about it.”  Janet questioned this and asked them “when were you last in the classroom?” She continued by saying “I am not trained in maths or science but I tell you what I can manage kids.” Janet maintains that if the universities are telling the student teachers this then they can “kiss them goodbye” as “relationship is the key.” 

9.2 Primary trained “Primary teachers teach children [where] secondary teachers teach subjects” (Janet)
Janet was primary trained which caused some issues as discussed earlier but it did give her many advantages, especially around relationships with students, as she said “I’ve always believed primary teachers teach children [whereas] secondary teachers teach subjects.”  This professional learning is a key influence in her high school’s vision where she leads as principal.  She aspires to “create a holistic student” who has “all-round well-being” which is currently more associated with primary schools in New Zealand not high schools. 
9.3 Janet’s experience was always “on the pastoral care side of the school”
Relationships are Janet’s strength and therefore she was the most obvious choice for organising the “pastoral care side of the school” which matches with Coleman’s (2009) findings that this is often the women’s role.  Janet was fortunate to plan a lot of professional learning for staff as well, and this alongside leading the pastoral team was beneficial for Janet as Coleman (2009) noted that being in charge of pastoral care alone does not prepare people for principalship.  According to both Patuawa (2006) and Wiendling and Dimmock (2006) the most effective way to prepare members of the senior leadership team for principalship is to have a wide variety of flexible experiences but Janet did not “have the mathematical brain for timetables and curriculum” and was lucky that the other deputy principals “slotted naturally into those types of positions.” Janet also articulated that she needed financial planning skills because she can “balance my cheque book but that’s about my limit and I’m thinking I’ve got this government money, this is money for the kids” and would have found these skills useful in the First Time Principals’ Programme

9.4 Professional development for leaders: “This course inspired me.  OK I could do this” (Janet)
Pettit (1999, as cited in Bush & Glover, 2004) stated “no one can simply train for the position of leadership…he or she must do the job to know the job” (p.9).  A major and essential part of learning to be a principal is through living the experience and the most valuable learning is in role (Weindling & Dimmock, 2006). Janet remarked that “there is so much they (principals) don’t share with you, one, they can’t and two, you’ve got your own job to do as a deputy principal and you can’t be worrying about those things the principal is dealing with.”   However, specific professional learning is important and Janet’s mentor Tim encouraged her to take the Unitec Diploma in School Management travelling up to Auckland every holiday as there was no internet at the time she was studying.  This course included “personnel management, dealing with open to learning conversations (Robinson, 2009), conflicts in staffing” and Janet speaks very highly of it.

9.5 Acting head: “it wasn’t a reality, I was only baby-sitting… I wasn’t carrying the can for anything” (Janet)

Taking on the acting principal role is one of the most valuable ways to prepare for a principal position (Weindling & Dimmock, 2006) and it gave Janet the confidence to think that she could become a principal in the future.  She did not apply the first time her principal went on sabbatical but it came up again and Janet thought “hmm shall I give it a go? It was only for a term and I thought I couldn’t stuff up too much for one term.”  She added “it wasn’t a reality, I was only baby-sitting… I wasn’t carrying the can for anything;” she was just “keeping the seat warm.”

Nevertheless, this experience was central for Janet’s confidence which increased when her principal and mentor Tim believed that she could do the job.  Secondly, she had to deal with a major staff issue on day one in post and although it was stressful it was a great learning experience.  Thirdly, two staunch members of staff who did not always get on well with Janet when she was a deputy principal told her that “they really enjoyed working with me” as principal and this was the moment where she thought “well maybe I could do this.”