Archive | June, 2018

Being a Growth-Mindset Leader

27 Jun


This week I made that mistake that is one of the worst. The greatest mistake you can make as a leader is believing that you are better than anyone else; better than you really are.

This week I found myself falling into this trap. I must fight against it, my ego wanting to be fed. Sometimes (ok it is rare) I think that because I am leader I have to be the font of all knowledge, the wisest person in the room, the judge, jury and executioner. I fall into the trap of believing in my own abilities rather than drawing on the collective wisdom and experience of those around me.

According to Carol Dweck, author of “Mindset”, fixed mindset leaders live in a world where some people are superior and some are inferior. They must repeatedly affirm that they are superior.

Leaders with a fixed mindset do not admit or correct their mistakes or deficiencies. They’re constantly trying to prove they’re better than others. Fixed mindset leaders don’t want teams. They want to be the only ‘big fish’ so that when they compare themselves with others they can feel a cut above the rest. They try to intimidate people with their brilliance.

In contrast, wise leaders with a growth mindset seek out the counsel of others, seeking to hear different points of view before making a decision. They have the humility to hand over decisions that really aren’t in their expertise or ability.

Growth mindset leaders don’t define themselves by their position or the organisation they work for. They don’t fall into the trap that so many of us do, of focusing on the institution itself rather than the very purpose for its existence, with the institution and our position within it becoming a reflection of our reputation, something to protect at all costs.

This not you? Then why do we only seek the counsel of those we know will agree with us? Why do we shift the blame and never say sorry? This is my work on next term.


The Family

20 Jun


A key note speaker at Catholic Convention and his quote from the Holy Father has got me thinking.

 “families are not a problem, they are first and foremost an opportunity”. The opportunity for the Church is to “care for, protect and support them”. “Once you begin to see the family as a problem, you get bogged down, because you are caught up in yourself.”

The importance of good schooling and parenting is well recognised, but the importance of how schools and families relate is much less understood. The impact of the relationship between schools and families reaches far and wide; affecting wellbeing, behaviour and attainment to name a few. If we are to harness the potential of this relationship, much more must be done to overcome the barriers that exist between teachers and parents today.

Studies have convincingly shown that parental engagement in a child’s learning, rather than simple involvement in school activities, is the most effective way for parents to improve their child’s attainment, behaviour and attendance. Sadly poor parental engagement is having an adverse effect; also taking its toll on pupil, parent and teacher wellbeing.

Many parents say that they have felt patronised, sidelined or ignored by their child’s school, and an equally worrying number of teachers said they had been verbally or physically abused by a pupil’s parent.

Parents and teachers must work as a team to enable parents to connect where it is most important – beyond the school gate, as active agents in the learning of their children in the home. Taking an interest in their child’s education, helping with homework, backing school disciplinary practice in the home and being a source of moral, motivational support are all ways in which parents can effectively engage in education, but such engagement is much easier said than done.

The benefits include:

  • Improved attainment
  • Increased attendance
  • Better behaviour

What are the barriers to effective parental engagement?

Parental experience

The differences between a parent’s level of engagement with their child’s education can be partly attributed to their own experience while at school.

If learning was confined to the school environment, with little engagement from home, they are likely to replicate this pattern with their own children.

In addition to this, some parents may have had a poor school experience themselves, with lower levels of educational attainment. This may mean they lack the skills and confidence needed to positively engage with their child’s schooling.

A chaotic or disordered home environment

When children display behavioural problems in school, disrupting the class and making it difficult for the teacher to teach, there is often an underlying problem in the child’s family life.

If there is nowhere at home for them to study, and no one to help them with that, it will be difficult for children to show that discipline at school.

Parenting support programmes have been shown to be very helpful in engaging the family and boosting achievement, behaviour and attendance.

Family structures

Families in Britain are becoming more diverse, with marriage rates falling and blended families and kinship carers becoming more visible. Schools are challenged to take this into account, ensuring that they are not inadvertently preventing family engagement in education.

Some parents may face barriers to engaging in their child’s education, including disabled parents, fathers, grandparents or other carers, non- resident parents and parents for whom English is a second language.

Family breakdown can have an enormous impact on a child’s well-being. Their attendance, behaviour, and ability to concentrate in class may all be affected by disruption at home. In particularly acrimonious family break-ups, where custody is an issue, schools may be faced with difficulties in engaging both parents. Keeping non-resident parents engaged and active in their child’s life can improve the outcomes for that child.

What are your barriers and how can you solve them?




18 Jun


In 1973, Peter Drucker stated in his book Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, “Management is not culture-free, that is, part of the world of nature. It is a social function. It is, therefore, both socially accountable and culturally embedded.”

Yet, here we are in 2018 with organizational leadership models that continue to deny the social nature of organizations and wallow in inertia. Our leadership practices remain mostly authoritative. People are disengaged, distrusting and perhaps even disenfranchised.

What if our approach to leadership was to evolve into Drucker’s vision of “socially accountable and culturally embedded” management? This week at Catholic Convention one of the speakers got me reflecting on this.

Leadership isn’t a 9-5 job — it’s communal, it’s holistic and it’s accretive. It’s time to abandon the long-held notion that the “leader” knows all and should decide everything. A fancy title doesn’t put you above others — it puts you in their service.

The work of leadership today: asking questions, involving people, connecting them to each other, creating a platform for their insights and ideas to make a real impact — in other words, unleashing leadership behavior everywhere.

In this moment of reflection, as we seek to redefine the work of leadership, let us remember the words of Nelson Mandela:

“[Ubuntu is] the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others; that if we are to accomplish anything in this world it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievements of others.”

Ubuntu or “umuntu ngumuntu ngabuntu” is of Zulu origin and means that a person is a person because of other people. It is also reflected in the African proverb: It takes a village to raise a child.

“Africans have a thing called Ubuntu: it is about the essence of being human, it is part of the gift that Africa is going to give the world. It embraces hospitality, caring about others, being willing to go that extra mile for the sake of another. We believe that a person is a person through other persons; that my humanity is caught up and bound up in yours. When I dehumanize you, I inexorably dehumanize myself. The solitary human being is a contradiction in terms, and, therefore, you seek to work for the common good because your humanity comes into its own in community, in belonging.”
Desmond Tutu (The right to Hope: global problems, global vision, 1995).

This week as a school leader I must remember this, if you’re lonely at the top, it’s time to start recognizing and amplifying the contribution of those around you.





17 Jun


I am an avid reader. The American presidents are of interest to me and I have read many works on them. Please check my Goodreads for my suggestions. These leaders have been forced to confront those who work against them for reasons of jealousy, spite, or zealous ambition. It’s some difficult reality leaders must face.  Some people just hope a leader will fail for the sake of failing. As someone who is leading change in school recently I feel this. Educational leaders face the struggle against those who would see them fail. It would be wise to keep the fight about the ideas and not about the personalities at play.

Abraham Lincoln was confronted with tests to his leadership throughout his presidency. His treasury secretary, Salmon Chase, continually challenged Lincoln’s capability and worked to subvert him from the start to the finish of his cabinet career. In the last months of 1862, he played a major role in precipitating crises that twice threatened the fragile stability of Lincoln’s cabinet as a result of his ambition and attempts to overcome the need to build his reputation.He was, Goodwin points out in her acclaimed work, “Forever brooding on a station in life not yet reached” and Lincoln had the misfortune of having to manage his secretary’s personal weaknesses despite the treasurer’s great capabilities.”3

It is important to reflect on our histories as we learn a great deal from them. Good luck in leading your environment.

1. The Lehrman Institute, Abraham Lincoln and Salmon P. Chase, Abraham Lincoln’s Classroom.  Retrieved from

2. Beard, R. (2014). The rise and fall (and rise) of Salmon P. Chase. The New York Times. Retrieved from

3. Goodwin, D.K. (2006). Team of rivals: The political genius of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Simon & Schuster.


Teaching in a Catholic School

16 Jun

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A see teaching as a vocation. It is a calling. It is Christ calling me to teach with him not about him. It encourages me to be a better christian and role model.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter if you attend or teach at a public or Catholic school; all teachers are being watched daily by their students and parents.  Eyes are always watching to see how to react and how they should structure their behaviors.  Parents are personally making sure teachers are meeting their students’ needs.  In my school, however, students are also watching and see me practice my own faith.  Tamariki better than anyone seethe difference between real and fake, so this encourages me to constantly keep myself in check and be authentic in my relationship with my students and my God.

In our catholic schools everything is geared towards Christ. He is at the centre. In the Catholic school, I am able to complement, discuss, and even explain my beliefs without worry of offending my students.  Often, I can praise a student “God has truly blessed you with the talent for drawing,” or thank a student for their help during Mass.  Students can openly discuss their love for God and our daily lessons are often linked to the Fruits of the Spirit.  I often remind our community we are in the presence of God.

Thank you to the Catholic Convention for reminding me of this this week.



16 Jun


It was validating to learn that one of Dwight Eisenhower’s key character traits was his perceived humility. Michael Korda, in his biography IKE: An American Hero points out:

It was part of Dwight Eisenhower’s genius that he never wanted to appear ‘to know more than the other fellow,’ or embarrass anyone if it could be avoided.

Sometimes I do talk too much about myself. In the restorative contract I have reflected a great deal about listening to others. A work on…

Leading with Purpose

13 Jun


As a leader this week at the Catholic convention the key note speakers got me thinking about my leadership competencies and this what I came up with.

  • Have a vision and be clear about it.
  • Maintain gospel values
  • Act according to consistent ethical and moral standards
  • Communicate clearly and listen attentively
  • Empower team members and demonstrate respect and trust for other
  • Emphasise company culture by highlighting shared values, goals, and objectives
  • Maintain the flexibility necessary to change course and remain receptive to new ideas
  • Demonstrate a commitment to professional development of employees
  • Create an environment conducive to innovation

Act according to consistent ethical and moral standards

We as school leaders are expected to make decisions that closely align with our specific goals and objectives, requiring a commitment to fairness and objectivity. With a set of clearly defined ethical and moral standards in place, leaders are much more likely to make unbiased and objective decisions, engendering a deep sense of trust and loyalty from team members.

When we act according to a consistent set of ethical and moral standards which means that all decisions are based on logical, reasoned analysis  employees believe they will be treated fairly by leaders and have no reason to feel burdened by uncertainty, which in turn encourages a greater level of creativity.


I am surrounded by effective leaders who communicate superbly. Effective leadership is undermined by communication lacking in clarity, so it is incumbent upon those in leadership positions to communicate clearly and consistently in every interaction. Team members are far more efficient and productive when they can count on leaders to issue clear and easily understood directives. Team members are also more likely to carry out their responsibilities with a greater level of confidence, promoting the kind of creativity and collaboration that leads to innovation.

While a consistent focus on clarity in communication reduces the likelihood of a misunderstanding or miscommunication, it does not necessarily eliminate the possibility in its entirety. This is why the most effective leaders also make a point to attentively listen to questions or concerns from team members, as every team member should feel comfortable enough to clarify a directive without fear of reproach from leadership for doing so.

What have you been working on in your role as leader this week? Send me a note.






Blended Learning

9 Jun

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Blended learning works well for covering a large amount of course material with learners who are independent and engaged. But how can you get learners to take responsibility for their own education? By putting some best practices to work with the rest of your curriculum, you ensure that you make the most of a combined at-home and in-class effort to make sure you max out the method.

Explain Your Reasons

If your learners don’t truly understand the reasoning behind the idea of combining both independent and in-class learning, you may lose them from day one. Instead, take the time to explain exactly why you’ve chosen blended learning as your method for delivery. Perhaps you want to respect the various degrees of understanding among learners, or you’d rather spend class time putting concepts to work, rather than reading up on them. Make your learners understand the method behind your madness for the best results.

Include Diverse Activities

Any given class has a diverse learning aesthetic. While some prefer to learn by reading, others score better results by doing. Including diverse activities help all employees learn in a comfortable setting. From group discussions to online quizzes, games and even role playing, diversity can drive user engagement for all learning types.

Use Media

You have the most powerful learning tool of all time readily accessible at your fingertips: The Internet. Don’t waste it by creating a blended learning lesson that is dull and repetitive. Why write out a whiteboard question when you could show an engaging video? Why tell your learners a fact when you can have them research at home and report back in class? By maxing out your media, you give your learners the tools to make the most of their experience. Well worth becoming an Microsoft innovative educator (MIE) to support you in this.

Mentoring is Crucial

7 Jun


Spending time with staff pays off—not just for them, but for me and the entire school. The question of how much time can be explored in a Fast Company post, “Why Managers Should Spend Exactly 6 Hours A Week With Each Employee.”

By spending time mentoring it makes staff feel valued, calm and helps make the school more efficient and innovative.


What good is all of this great mentoring and coaching if it’s never applied? Advocating for employees implies action. Advocating is time not spent with employees, but for them. Effective leaders hear and discuss employees’ new ideas with them, and afterward, work to put them into action. When employees receive new training or knowledge and are eager to apply it to their jobs, advocates make that happen. Advocates inspire their employees to keep learning and contributing, as they feel like their contributions are valued and applied. Without this final investment of time, employees feel undervalued and underutilized.

A small investment of time and following up with action creates a positive, supportive school culture. Our goals this year has been to grow middle leaders. T train leaders to invest time in their team with mentoring, coaching and advocating create a healthy working environment beneficial to the employees and the success of the students.

Learning Objectives

5 Jun


At their core, learning objectives should be three things: Action-focused, learner-focused and consider of existing learner knowledge base. You should be able to clearly specify which learning objectives are informational only, and which require a change to overall behavior. By categorizing objectives accordingly, you can better map how to reach that objective based on the resources available to you and your learners. Past that point, it’s up to you to drill down on learning strategy, using these five tips.

  1. Assess Prerequisite Knowledge. Don’t plunge blindly forward without knowing more about your learner. By offering a pre-test or survey, you can get a better handle on what your learners know and can map based on both objective and current knowledge base to avoid bored learners.
  2. Write Learning Objectives. Use actionable words to describe just what you want out of your program or curriculum. Don’t forget to include supporting objectives, or steps that need to take place in order for learners to reach the goal or objective.
  3. Keep it Concise. While it’s tempting to stuff your curriculum full of content.  it can be a case of “too much of a good thing.” Whenever possible, keep your mapping and your content concise by always focusing on the most important tenants of content. By simplifying the content, the way to your learning objectives is less muddled by “noise.”
  4. Utilize Knowledge Assessment Tools. Ask any seasoned road-tripper: The only thing worse than going the wrong way is going the wrong way and refusing to turn around. By using knowledge checks and assessment tools throughout the process, you can see what’s working – and perhaps more importantly, what’s not. Knowledge checks ensure your learners are “getting it” and are on their way to reaching learning goals.
  5. Evaluate Performance. So, did you reach your final destination? Performance evaluations allow you to assess whether or not the material gave you the results you wanted, as mapped in your learning objectives. Asking learners directly is always an effective course of action, but you can also go for surveys, post-program assessments and even webinars to gather intelligent data and ensure you were on the right track.

Mapping helps you stay on track and avoid any unnecessary detours on your journey to reaching objectives.


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