Developing Relationships Case Study

Jennifer Douglas

Assistant Principal North Melbourne Primary School

​Teaching is all about building positive relationships with students, staff and the community. In environments where there are strong and positive relationships, people are more motivated, creative and willing to take risks. Participating in the Developing Relationships module confirmed this for me:

​One of my goals in the module was to be more assertive in my role as Assistant Principal. I wanted to feel confident when voicing my needs and saying no. I wanted to feel confident in decision making for the whole school, with input from others.

The module’s open forum style sessions are high-powered and stimulating. I really respond to the professional interaction with the other participants and the facilitator. You are encouraged to interject. You are supported to put your personal experiences and stories out there, openly and honestly. You can do this because you know that the people around you are really listening, and value what you are saying.

A great bonus of the Developing Relationships module is forming collegiate support groups outside the sessions. These groups are informal and encourage further discussion of concerns and possible solutions.

An important part of the module is a school-based project. My project is about moving staff, emotionally, to a flexible learning space. This involves open discussions with staff, listening to their concerns, respecting their opinions, understanding their fears, supporting them and developing mutual trust. The aim is to present staff with a place of comfort and to encourage them to try it out in a positive way. So it is about facilitating that move and having people come on board, garnering enthusiasm and motivating people. This has been a huge task, but it is moving forward very well.​​​

Learning sessions during the Developing Relationships module have helped enormously, giving me courage and confidence to support my staff in the move. I’ve also learned that you cannot always please everybody. Making decisions for the school is not about personalities; it is about what is best for the school.