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What I learned from the Advanced Leadership Program

A participant in the Advanced Leadership Program reflects on her experiences and shares some tips for women school leaders.

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NESLI Leaders in Action: renae cirillo

Renae Cirillo is an experienced teacher working in Perth. Completing the Advanced Leadership Program has given her a whole new set of skills around the art of negotiating, managing conflict and addressing work/life balance. Renae favourably compares NESLI's offerings with Harvard University's training options.

This is my seventh year of teaching and my second at Scotch College. Initially I worked at West Balcatta, a co-ed primary school with 500 pupils, so it was quite a change coming to Scotch College, a much bigger school for boys only. Scotch has junior, middle and senior schools with a total of 1,500 students and about 300 staff (including non-teaching personnel).

I teach Year 5 and I love what I do; I have always wanted to work with children. My job as a teacher is practical, has bucket loads of variety and involves lots of problem solving.

I would say that the biggest challenge of being a teacher is managing your workload. Along with the planning, prep and actual teaching of classes, there is a fair bit of admin work which I have to undertake. A big part of this is organising additional activities for my students, such as school excursions and special activities, so there is a lot to do.

One of the things I was looking for when I undertook the Advanced Leadership Program (ALP) was to learn the key theories around leadership. Since there were 11 other women from Scotch College undertaking the course, and I was the least experienced, I was also hoping to build good relationships with the fellow students in my cohort.

The course was fantastic, both in terms of what we learnt and how we learnt it. I now have a whole range of new skills around the art of negotiating and managing conflict. It is especially helpful to have a process for managing difficult conversations, which I often use when interacting with kids, parents and staff. The ALP also had some valuable insights around how women can effectively address the work/life balance.

Last year I undertook some online training through Harvard University and it did not compare in terms of the structure and organisation of NESLI’s course. Harvard’s online course was a little hard to follow, but the ALP was very clear and well laid out. Additionally, communication from NESLI's support team was impressive for all facets of the program.

Lucy McCarthy was our facilitator throughout and she was great. She was organised, a clear communicator and always capable of both positive and constructive feedback.

Prior to commencing the ALP, I was worried about the course workload involved, assuming that it would interfere with what was already a very hectic teaching calendar. But I need not have worried. The course was not an onerous time commitment and the webinars were scheduled so they fitted in seamlessly with my schedule.

Renae Cirillo teaches at Scotch College in Perth. She completed the Advanced Leadership Program.

Renae Cirillo
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