As a Comparatively New Vice Principal of an All-Girls Large Secondary College, I Was Keen

As a Comparatively New Vice Principal of an All-Girls Large Secondary College, I Was Keen

As a comparatively new Vice Principal of an all-girls large secondary college, I was keen to explore all aspects of assertive communication skills which could enhance my personal development of effective leadership, self-awareness and inter-personal relationships. Consequently, I applied for and was accepted for the Assertive Communication Skills for Woman organised by Skillpath Seminars at the Stormont Hotel, Belfast.

Being assertive is about being confident and in control of our personal power which we must learn to use as effectively as possible when leading/managing staff both inside and outside of school. Silence is acceptance so we must have courage of our convictions in relationships with others and control our actions without comprising our position. This seminar helped identify the five steps of assertive communication i.e. communication style, assertive communication skills, common communication situations, communicating through conflict and communicating to get to the top.

By dealing in depth with each of these five important steps on the journey through effective/assertive communication we smooth the transition from one step to the next and help ourselves prepare for the difficult people and/or situations even if we cannot change them. It is important for me to learn to say ‘No’ or put my point across in a non-aggressive/non passive manner and be fully aware of how others interpret my actions/body language. I became acutely aware how our emotional cycle can be slowly destroyed through constant negativity and so the need arose to be introduced to techniques which help us cope and alter uncomfortable situations. By means of an informal survey, each female went through a self-style analysis to get a clearer picture of how we perceived ourselves and this produced great humour and even greater discussion.

This seminar has helped me be more aware of myself particularly when in daily contact with pupils. Through our pastoral care system, our pupils can benefit greatly from many of the ideas highlighted and realise that the importance of their self-confidence, personal power and self-control cannot be over-emphasised. Consequently, my approach and manner, particularly in dealing with disciplinary issues, has had to be modified, and become less intimidating both verbally and visually and more controlled.

In addition, when dealing with other school personnel, I more fully recognise the power of both spoken, written and non-verbal communications and continue to practice turning reactive behaviour into proactive. I more fully understand how various approaches attitudes and styles can be interpreted and can impact positively/negatively on the team/individual. I have become more self-aware of my limitations in dealing with pressure and conflict situations and have found strategies to improve my mental/emotional resilience. With prolonged effort, constant revisiting of literature provided, analysing formal/informal situations more deeply, hopefully, I can increase my personal power and inspire others by my leadership behaviour.

Following school policy, information from this course will be posted on our intranet so that all teaching/non teaching staff can access valuable educational information to help re-energise and up-date themselves.

Thanks to the GTCNI bursary I was able to attend this seminar and, hopefully, before the end of this first term, I will visit OxcloseCommunity College to exchange good practice with Deputy Head, staff and pupils of this Performing Arts Specialist College with whom our own college has recently forged new links. Consequently I will endeavour to network more effectively and help establish St Cecilia’s as a Performing and VisualArtsCollege as we embark this year on a new pilot initiative.