Learning the leadership ropes from INNOTECH

Learning the leadership ropes from INNOTECH

Rosanna Dizon

“I have changed my ways as a school leader and I can feel that my passion for service deepened. In my heart, I know I owe my best to my country. To give back is to make myself not only a good leader but to make future good leaders.”

 

When I qualified for the SEAMEO School Leadership Program (SLP), I just got through a painful experience at work. The promotion I expected never came even when I worked hard for it.  I was in transition, having been assigned to another station. With a new organizational culture, people, and community to deal and network with, I had high hopes that SLP will help me get over the uncertainties and challenges. 

SLP helped me go through the transition stage. Phase 1 started with a little delay. Not being Facebook-savvy, I ignored the SLP friend request. I thought I was the last person to join the chat room. The sessions were challenging as I squeezed my chat schedule into the series of meetings that month. But as soon as I joined, I immediately felt comfortable, welcome, and free. I thought about whether the learners feel this way when they come to school. 

I had a lot of insights and “Aha!” moments. Meeting others online was not my first time, but considering that most of my classmates were not from the Philippines, I was anxious and excited talking to them. I realized that the rich exchange in the chat sessions is similar to the interaction of our multicultural students. It was surprisingly a fruitful learning experience from others I have not personally met. This surpassed the learning in graduate school and other seminars. If student interaction is maximized in the classroom, perhaps students will learn more.   

Phase 2 was indescribable: the face-to-face interaction between participants and facilitators overflowed with insights. There were friendships born, ideas multiplied, and more answers and questions. Reflections served as mirrors. Learning was spontaneous, free, and safe. Energy was high from the first day to the last.  It was amazing. There was respect for diversity — highlighting practices and celebrating life.  

The cultural exchange continued with dinner preparations, shopping, and out-of-town activities. Although I did not join the weekend activity, I shared the enjoyment with my co-participants. I spent the weekend with former students and colleagues I have not seen for a long time, sharing my fondest SEAMEO moments. 

When it was time to leave the SEAMEO International House, it felt like leaving the family. Padayon, we had to move on. Between embraces and handshakes, we promised to have reunions and continuous communications. I will surely feel empty for a while. 

Phase 3 passed in a blur. I learned to open up.  If I hesitated to share my experiences in the past, Phase 3 became an open canvas. I freely expressed my milestones, checkpoints, and reflections in the group chat. I felt recharged.  Upon returning to school, I put up my SEAMEO wall, an area to put all my memoirs and space to remind me of that unforgettable experience as I carry on with my journey and continue to be inspired in times of trouble. 

When the SLP course ended, I realized my journey has only started. The family will always be there. The Facebook page will not be removed, hopefully. The chat group will be used as a channel of family interaction. The memories will linger. Above all, the lessons learned will be applied.   

What have I become after this course?  Did it make a difference? 

I have changed my ways as a school leader and I can feel that my passion for service deepened. In my heart, I know I owe my best to my country. To give back is to make myself not only a good leader but to make future good leaders. As I continue my journey, I always remember the ultimate lesson I learned in the course  be yourself but be the best you can be in whatever you endeavor to become. 

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