Sunday, 16 March 2014

Country girl in the city - a week in Dunedin

Having never been to Dunedin before the idea of going down for a week long course was quite exciting.
Then I heard it was going to be a 'leadership' course, I thought that sounded cool! Leadership courses I have been on in the past have included abseiling, rock climbing, kayaking, team building etc.... then we get told that NO, it wouldn't be that sort of course- 5 days in the classroom and homework each night!!!

 I wasn't too sure of what to expect from the course. I understood from the surveys we had to complete before we went that we would undergo a character assassination during the course! However I am very pleased to report that after the assassination on Tuesday we spent the rest of the week rebuilding and learning how to harness the leader within.
The course is part of a MBA, so quite high levelled thinking was going to be required!

We were accommodated in the Otago University Executive Residence which is very close to the university. It was a wonderful place to stay, the staff were friendly and welcoming and nothing was too much trouble. The food was plentiful (and drinks were very reasonably priced )

Otago University Executive Residence
Having such a lovely place to stay really made staying away from the kids a little bit easier. I took my tablet for a walk around the hotel one night when I was skyping the kids and they were thrilled to meet a few of my colleagues and getting to see where I was staying. One night Ryan got to watch a helicopter land on the helipad of the hospital which you could see from my room. (Both kids thought it was pretty cool that mum had her own toilet and shower in her room)

Otago University Clock tower
Topics on the course ranged from leadership types, leadership vs. management, visions, creativity, barriers to change, personality traits, resilience, planning, values, creativity and much much more.
The course was centred around the book called "The leadership Challenge" by Kouzes and Posner. They describe leaders as having 5 dimensions to be able to do what they do.
During the course we thoroughly looked into each of the dimensions (Modelling the way, inspiring a shared vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act and encouraging the heart). 
Having read the book before going on the course, I had my head around the dimensions before I went but found that through delving deeply into them over the period of the week I really began to understand what a great book this is. Their catch phrase is "how to make extraordinary things happen in organisations." Watch out Rawhitiroa, I have a new mission!!!!   
The thing I enjoyed most about the course content was getting time to delve deeply into my personal values and working out how they fit with colleagues, my school and my community. Having unearthed those values, I am moving into the future really confident about making
decisions and knowing that my decisions are based on my deeply engrained values and beliefs.

While the days were long and tiresome, we did manage to get out and about on Wednesday night. We were taken for a tour of the city in a fleet of classic jaguar cars. We got to see many of Dunedin's famous landmarks, our driver Jeff was a very knowledgeable gentleman who always had a story or two to share about the places we went . Sadly no time to visit cadburys or speights factories though!

Our cars in front of the Otago Railway station.

from the back of the Daimler- 5 in the back and 1 in the front
I got to travel in the 1971 Daimler (picture on the right in the top picture). A car with a very colourful history. It used to be the mayor of Auckland's official car but the Queen and Nelson Mandela have also travelled in it. It was rather strange having people standing on the side of the road taking photos of us driving past!
Baldwin Street was lots of fun. For those of you that don't know it is the world's steepest street. Over 161 metres it climbs 47.22 metres in height! The steepest section of the street has the gradient of 1 in 2.86. I certainly knew I was alive when I got to the top! I was blown away when I found out (after I walked up it) that the world record for a climb and descent is just under 13 seconds.... yip madness! This record has been in place since 1994.
Doesn't look too bad aye.... in a photo, I stood at the bottom in awe of the site in front of me

I did it, I did it!!
Dinner out that night was lovely. Our lecturers and course organisers joined us for the evening. We were treated to an Italian experience- Etrusco. I challenged myself to try everything on offer... even artichoke! I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it was.
I was certainly glad that I wasn't wearing restricting clothing!!! (am very glad that a few of us walked back to the hotel afterwards, I don't think I would have been able to sleep on such a full tummy :)  
Not straight to sleep though- back to our rooms to do homework....
(see kids- even the teachers have to do it!)
The rest of the week went relatively quickly. Making a plan for leading within our schools was the big focus for Friday. Presenting it to our peers and then developing it further was a challenge but certainly rewarding.  I am really looking forward to being able to bring about some amazing science learning in my school when I finish my time at Lake Rotokare.

Being presented with my certificate of completion

When I reflect back on the week, I can't help but feel extremely proud of myself. When I was initially thinking of applying for a fellowship I almost didn't go through with it as the fact  I was going to have to spend a week away from my children was almost too daunting to think about.
The longest I have been away from them in 7 years is 3 nights! (Obviously I did it though or I wouldn't be writing this)
 On Tuesday night I was ready to come home.  2 long days, heavy workload, loads of theory and too much food (ok so that was my fault lol.)  What was a teacher from a little country school that just liked to teach science doing on this course with all these amazing people??? It took me another day to realise that I too am a pretty amazing person and I belonged there with them.
Being surrounded by such an amazing group of people was what held me together and kept me going.
Big thanks to all the group "Bs" for helping me through the course, big thanks to the staff and lecturers at the Otago Buisness School and last but not least, a big thanks to my amazing support team in Hawera!

                           He aha te mea nui?                      He tangata, he tangata, he tangata!
What is the most important thing?        It is people, it is people, it is people.

Group 'B' (stands for brilliant) on top of Signal hill. Check out Anna's hair (3rd from the right at the back) shows how strong the wind was blowing.

Now back to the Lake!!! Can't wait.

1 comment:

  1. That is such a brilliant summary of our week away, I enjoyed reading it. I love that you said that the 'B' in Group 'B' stands for BRILLIANT!!