Middle Leader Development

21 Feb

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Last week I attended an online webinar led by an Australian principal.  She began: “The effectiveness of the leader will be tied to the respect that the leader can command and that will be generated by the character of the leader and the virtues she can display consistently and truthfully.” She spoke about how the work of teachers and leaders in a school is a moral task, the importance of developing practices shared by the group through meetings and interpersonal actions, and not just having good ideas but also enacting those ideas.

This got me thinking about a number of issues:

Cultures of thinking – How do we move the Cultures of Thinking approach from faculty to whole school? Various approaches were discussed in the webinar including: show and tell (read, trial, share), suggest don’t mandate, ask for feedback, use noticeboards (in class, around the school, and electronic). There was also discussion of specific routines, like See…Think…Wonder.

The evolving role of the Head of Faculty – The presenter produced a mindmap which that covered this topic. It got me thinking. How do HoFs find time for all these things? What is suffering because of the role/workload increasing? How does the SLT help or hinder our role? To what extent are all stakeholders aware of each other’s demands and how time-consuming these demands are? New roles are appearing and roles are expanding. Expectations in fulfilling the role are both personal and school-based. Who can support us? How?

Documentation and sharing – The benefits of documentation are: deeper thinking, starting conversations, sharing between faculty’s and building on each other’s efforts, sharing/reflecting on the process/progression/learning and where that might lead to next, valuing more than the finished product, encouraging team collaboration to inform and improve. ‘Share-worthy’ material does not have to be perfect and packaged, it can be a work-in-progress rather than ready to use.

Reflection and improvement, and growth mindset are needed to keep it moving forward, to not just avoid failure, but avoid plateauing or sticking to the status quo. It should be seen as a comment/feedback space, not show and tell. We need to learn from mistakes and share what didn’t work so others can learn from it, and celebrate our mistakes. I have been thinking could we introduce the concept of a rotating presenter, where a different team member documents a snapshot of a team’s learning or mahi to share? Should each faculty have a dedicated documentation space that both staff and students can see?

Getting the best out of people – Relationships are important. Focus on the positives. Specific praise/ positive feedback, flexibility, celebrate small steps, respect/interest outside the classroom, depersonalize risk by using conditional statements.

Cross-faculty collaboration – Having librarians and academic support staff involved in the planning of coursework, resources, skills, helping decode questions, cross-faculty collaboration provides equitable skills/resource assistance to all students and everyone benefits, awareness of the importance of information skills/academic support is available throughout the learning spectrum, team-teaching across faculty’s where the opportunity presents, look at each faculty’s schedules for the opportunities.

I know lots to think about here. What are your thoughts?

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