7 Questions with Paul Watson

Name: Paul Watson

Current title: Vice Principal

Current organisation: Mater Dei College - Western Australia

Currently Vice Principal of Mater Dei College in Western Australia, I am also the President of the Catholic Deputy Principal's Association of WA and the CEWA representative on the Department of Veteran Affairs Children's Education Board.

I hold a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Education, Post Graduate Certificate in Religious Education and a Masters in Educational Leadership and Management. I am passionate about life long learning and have undertaken a number of Micro Credentialed Courses through Harvard X, Modern Learners - Change School and LinkedIn Learning.

An advocate for bringing about considerable change to the Australian education system in order to enhance student engagement and thus improved outcomes, I have spoken at numerous conferences and have been a regular contributor as a writer for LeadershipEd.

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1. What have you found most challenging as a Christian school leader?

As our student's world changes I believe they find it more and more difficult to reconcile the relevance of Christianity in their lives. Our challenge is to ensure their individual needs are met through a holistic education where their learning and experiences are relevant and authentic to their lives today, whilst assisting in building character based on christian values.

2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

The secret is planning well ahead. On top of that I prioritise my week, the week before and my day the night before. I try to be as well organised and as far in front as I can to ensure I can be completely flexible as to the structure of my day which is an inevitable requirement in a school where you never can tell what the day will bring.

3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

I am not sure there is one. My leadership journey has always been a culmination of leadership lessons through experiences that enhance my leadership. That said however, I have come to believe in recent times that above all else the culture we build through our leadership is paramount.

I seek to personify this through a Dylan William quote that I return to time and time again. "If we create a culture where every teacher believes they need to improve, not because they are not good enough but because they believe they can be even better, there is no limit to what we can achieve."

4. What one book has had the most profound impact on your Christian school leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

Michael Fullan's Nuance. I think the overarching message of the book is that we shouldn’t continue to lead or operate our schools for a world that no longer exists. We must know our students and their world and think differently, creatively, and be willing to take the risk to innovate at every opportunity we have.

5. How do you find and keep great Christian teachers?

Usually you find one another. More often than not they are the people you discover when you start working with them and through the networks you build across schools their reputation proceeds them. Mutual respect, acknowledgment of the workload and difficulty of task and publicly celebrating the work our great teachers do is key to keeping outstanding staff.

6. What's most important as a Christian school leader for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?

Transparent and authentic Servant Leadership! As leaders we serve as stewards for our staff, students and families and not for any self serving purposes. Know the community, be present and develop meaningful relationships where people know your efforts are always in the best interests of all concerned.

7. If you had to pick just one story, what would be the most meaningful story from your time as a Christian school leader so far?

A student who was struggling greatly had got himself in a fair bit of trouble in the community and at school. In regard to one incident we had a very straight forward chat and at the end I had given him a significant consequence. At the end of the conversation he stood and held out his hand, as we shook hands he said, "Thanks Sir, I really appreciate your time and the fact you always listen to me."