Holistic management and its fruits..
From Guest Blogger, Seacia Christensen, Steiner Teacher, Education Associate, OMC Group.
I have recently returned from a year living in the west. A wild place where a red hot shore line meets the cool aqua waters of the Indian Ocean. I moved up there for a job. It was my dream job; I was under qualified and over enthusiastic. I had visited the town in august of 2013 and had heard about a small community school that had an alternative curriculum. I myself was coming to the end of a two year advanced diploma, which specialised in Steiner education or Waldorf as it is known in the northern hemisphere. I was so stunned to have found this tiny oasis in the middle of a rural town that was running a similar curriculum to what I had specialised in, they shared the philosophy of working from a whole to the more detailed aspects of learning. I went for a visit and we kept in contact for the next couple of months and I expressed my interest in one day becoming apart of their community. As fate would have it a position became available the day I graduated and I packed my bags and headed across to the west. I had no Idea what to expect and the thought of living in such a dry arid landscape, culturally and geographically made me wonder what was waiting for me on the horizon…
My first meeting with Lara my new principal set the tone for what was to come. We sat in the calm dimly lit foyer and sipped cool green tea, while a hot northerly wind rattled outside. She was warm, professional and had a great sense of humour. She wanted to know all about me, and what my dreams were for the future. We also discussed the holistic approach, the body of teachers upheld. Lara also mentioned their ethos of respect, communication and freedom. I felt instantly at home and fell in love with this new mysterious sanctuary. There was something magical about their school and work culture, something unique- worth protecting. The principal was proud of her staff and what they had achieved together. I started work and soon realised that the values of the principal trickled down through the many facets of the school. They had created something truly exceptional, an environment that was worth staying for. I found the body of staff extremely approachable and supportive, it was a space that supported failure and acknowledged that everyone was constantly learning, this not only applied to the students but also to the teachers and parents. The principal herself would often delegate jobs that she, “had no idea how to do”, which was always followed by a million thankyou’ and a giggle. There was not that thing of ‘I am the boss, everyone listen to me and don’t dare point out that I am doing something wrong’. They had manufactured a culture, where individual ego did not get in the way of what was right. The staff had much more influence and freedom to teach and contribute to the whole. This freedom allowed for many more ideas and inspiration to flow. There was an atmosphere of camaraderie, which was created in the everyday gestures of the staff. Small things like asking if you would like a cup of tea or “I love your drawing skills, can I borrow you for a lesson? Next time I can help you out with something as well”, made the everyday monotony of work somewhat sweeter. The body of staff worked well together and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. For me this came down to the all-inclusive holistic approach of the education and our principal. Good communication and mutual respect allowed, from an outsider’s perspective, this structure less organism; manageable and to take on a life of its own in such a unique way. The ethos of mutual respect, communication and freedom, permeated out and into the classroom, where the students were in turn, creating an environment that mirrored that of the staff body.
The transparency and true passion for what the community had created was what made it so strong and enviable. Their welcoming supportive environment has not only produced a fantastic school but in my opinion, a standard for every business, community group, organization or team, to strive towards. My little oasis I stumbled across in the west will forever inspire me.