I was recently interviewed for the educational consultancy group Wabisabi learning...
When did you decide that Education was for you?
The thing is, I had no idea what I wanted to do! As it turned out, I really enjoyed the people I was with at university and eventually I finished and found myself in a 6-month teaching contract in a school. It was a low socio-economic school and I enjoyed working with the kids there and the positive influence I could make on their lives.
I started to wonder about my pedagogical approach about 5-6 years into teaching. I started to really think about what I was doing, and what I wanted to achieve. I got some pretty stunning results and then the opportunities began to become clear. I felt ready for something else and I became a team leader.
Was that an intrinsic thing that you felt ready, or do you think someone else saw a leadership quality in you?
When I became a team leader I went from being someone in the pack to being recognised as someone who was leading great work. Some of the things I did started to really work and this was noticed.
The real opportunity for leadership came after 6 months of my son attending a local primary school. I began to think that something was wrong there, something just wasn't working. A leading teacher position became available at that school, and I applied.
I was asked at the interview about how I felt about taking a position in a school that my son attended, and I responded honestly, “What better motivation to help a school than to help a school your own child is at?” I got the job.
The school grew, and I moved to a new Assistant Principal position for a few years and eventually I became a Principal.
How do you define success for yourself?
I used to think it was about results. I look back now and I’m almost a little bit embarrassed. I was a bit too blunt—sometimes I would get the result, but I didn't have the people on board. It really made me think, ‘What’s wrong with me?’
Then I began to realise it is all about people. Results are great, but you're not going to get sustained success unless you have people on board. At the same time people have different things going on in their lives. I’m more inclined now to look at what is in people’s way, at what is going on for them, to the point that some of my long-term colleagues now say, “What have you done with the real Trevor Robinson?” Not everyone is going to be at the same point at the same time. You will have people at different levels and that's okay.
What is the most important skill you have learned on your path?
My emotional intelligence. I’m definitely calmer; not much flusters me these days. Also the ability to recognise my own emotions and how that makes me think. That has helped with relationships at work and being able to help other people. You can be content and data driven all you want, but if you can't reach people there is no point. I like that people tell me that they can come to me about anything.
What has been your greatest challenge?
I’m someone who sees what’s next. My challenge is to slow down because I would just go there, then arrive and turn around, and find I’m all by myself. So learning to play the long game.
What has been your greatest reward in the choices you've made?
The feedback you get from the school council or a parent who sends you a random email or stops you in the street and says thank you for what you or your staff have done for their children.
Joyful Curiosity is our theme for July. How do you or will you approach work with a sense of Joyful Curiosity?
I think next term that will be a real theme. This term has been about survival, but in the same way the joyful curiosity came out in people. It's really about creating the environment for people to just have a go. Here are my expectations, but it's okay to do things differently. It’s okay to get it wrong and talk about that.
Some quick questions, just for fun:
Are you an early bird or night owl?
I’ve reinvented myself. I'm an early bird now. I’m too tired to be a night owl.
What’s your morning ritual?
I’ll get up, have a shower first, then a coffee and a piece of toast and I read the news. I get to work early and take some quiet time to settle with my own thoughts and then I can be present for people.
What are five fun facts about Trevor?