Tag Archives: Community

A Relational Approach

23 Jul

march1330

I am a great believer in starting with a clean slate. There is no better to time to this than at the start of the term. The first day of the school term and every day after provides the perfect opportunity to stand at your door, in the hallways, and meet and greet everyone. When I mean everyone, I mean everyone! I propose this because we will never know what student or colleague will build a connection with us. These short and sincere encounters with people in our communities are what begin to build the strong fibers of an interconnected environment. Ask: What is your name? What is your favorite thing about school? What do you want to be when you grow up? What are your interests? How has his day been so far? Relationships, like trust, build slowly over time. As leaders in the community we must provide the time and space to nurture all kinds of relationship building, whenever possible. What would our schools be like if we knew everyone? Building relationships with everybody helps all of us build a community. A whanau. It allows us to know who connects with whom and who can support whom in a time of need. The same can be said with staff culture.

What are your best practices in relationship building? Where do you struggle? Share both with us below in the comments sections—we’ll celebrate along with you and troubleshoot wherever necessary.

Partnership between School and Parents

30 Jun

connector

This week I have been thinking about the role of the parents in schools. I’m a parent. It’s a partnership. Like all partnerships, a school parent partnership will be most effective when both parties commit to the partnership fully and when each party brings their strengths to it.

Communication is a key factor. When parents share news about major events or changes in the family that might affect their child, and relevant information about their child’s health or living situation, SLT and teachers can be better prepared to provide extra attention to the child as needed. Similarly, when a school staff member sees signs that something might be amiss, alerting parents and guardians in a timely manner may ensure extra support and help at home.

Shared goals and priorities can lead to opportunities for strong collaboration between the school and the family. Does the family think it’s important for the student to graduate high school in four years and go on to college? If so, they can be allies in making sure students are on task academically. Does the school see a budding Einstein in a student whose parents have minimal education? Teachers can give parents strategies and encouragement to support an academic potential in their child that may otherwise intimidate them.

Although we often overlook it, a shared concern of the children can create a powerful bond between parents and teachers. Every time I’m in a school I witness the passion so many teachers must help their student understand, achieve, and excel. Teachers need to let families know how hard they work for the children to succeed, how dedicated they are to helping kids thrive and grow into adults with meaningful and fulfilling lives. School staff and parents all want what is best for the child. Our students need to be at the centre.

Trend Six: Change Leadership

25 Mar

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Education faces a challenge to keep pace with all of these changes, particularly given that many of our traditional leadership practices were designed for a slow-moving world with a small group of people (or even one person) making most of the decisions. The traditional ‘pyramid-style’ hierarchy that existed in most 20th century organisations still holds considerable influence over organisations in the 21st century, however newer and more agile arrangements are required if we are to successfully navigate the future.

Some excellent resources

How empowered are they to be represented in the conversation and decision-making?

Community engagement is a two-way street where the school, families, and the community actively work together, creating networks of shared responsibility for student success. It is a tool that promotes civic well-being and that strengthens the capacity of schools, families, and communities to support young peoples’ full development.

I have been thinking about some Idea ways community be involved in change leadership.

These four ideas were Idea for me:

Idea 1: Know Where You’re Going and Tell a Story around it.

Start by creating a vision – in partnership with school staff, families, partners and students, what the school could look like and develop a plan for how to get there. Ensure that diverse viewpoints are included in this process.

Idea 2: Distributed Leadership

Actively involve staff, parents and community partners in sharing leadership functions, and work closely with them in working towards your shared vision.

Idea 3: Reach Out

Be proactive in learning about the community surround the school and become actively outside the school.

Idea 4: Don’t Ignore the Elephant in the Room

Recognise, and embrace, diversity within the school and the broader community. Recognise things that have not worked and share.

These are key to leading changing consulting with the community.

I love this Ted Talk around this idea.

Some Questions

21 Nov

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These are some important things as leaders we need to ask:

Question #1: What are you reading?

When SLT asks this question, whether to kids or staff, he or she is reinforcing the message that we are all readers. Books are a school’s oxygen, and the more we read and share words, the healthier our school communities are. If reading is not yet a top priority in the school, this question can spark an important conversation and can lead to tangible next steps, like a staff book club or school-wide reading time.

Question #2: I’ve been thinking about _____. What do you think?

Leaders cannot do it alone, nor should they pretend that they can. They need to ask for help and input. Another way to say this is, “I’d appreciate your advice.” Being someone who asks for advice — rather than being the all-knowing leader — shows that a principal is a learner and that he or she values the perspectives and opinions of coworkers. The more varied the roles and positions of the people whose advice is being sought, the better. Consider these two examples:

When the SLT asks a cafeteria staff member, “I’ve been thinking about how to improve the flow of kids as they enter the kitchen to get their food. What do you think?”

The SLT  asks a teacher, “I’ve been thinking about how to make sure that we’re getting kids moving without sacrificing learning time. What do you think?”

Question #3: If you were me, what would you change?

This is a variation of the above, but it’s more open-ended. The intention is allowing students and staff to speak freely about that which is most important to them. This is a great lunch-duty question. Sit down with kids in small groups and challenge them with this: “If you were the principal, what would you change in our school?” At first, you will likely hear responses about longer weekends and less homework, but the more you ask, the more you will hear things like, “Why don’t we have a girls’ volleyball team?” and “If I were principal, I would make sure that teachers didn’t yell at kids.” You’ll learn a lot from this question, so only ask it if and when you are truly ready to listen.

While most SLT don’t promote talking in the hallway, it’s also true that the best ones treasure open dialogue and communication. When they ask the right questions and heed the old saying about why we have two ears and one mouth, principals are elevating the conversation — and reminding everyone in their school whose voices matter the most.

Don’t get me wrong the hallway is not the place for open conversation but it is a place to get the conversation started.

Communication

16 Apr

Coolhandluke

There is a famous line in Cool Hand Luke (1967), where Captain tells Luke, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” Communication problems in schools have a negative impact on student achievement, positive relationships, family engagement, a collegial environment, school culture, teaching and learning. There are multiple ways to communicate.

Social media has increased the number of times a person can communicate within the school but with a wider community. If you are not providing families and stakeholders with a chance to communicate, then you are not encouraging a school community. Families want to have instant access to the school staff and to have a voice in school decisions. It may be time to ask, “Are we encouraging two-way communication or are we stuck in in 1967?”

What would you add to the list of way that are working to communicate with your teams and community?

Building the Perfect Leader

7 Jun

https://i1.wp.com/i2.cdn.turner.com/money/2009/11/19/news/companies/leadership_companies_colvin.fortune/leader_build.03.jpg

From my readings (including The Art of War!) and my NAPP inquiry this week the following is a list, by no means finite, of leadership qualities that teachers most desire in a principal. These are things as I need to keep in the forefront of my mind as the year progresses.

Build a sense of community

Perhaps the single most important quality a principal can have is the ability to create a sense of community. Effective principals understand that the adults and children in their schools need a healthy, safe and supportive environment in order to thrive. It is not only about being on the side-line of the footy field or at the gala it is walking beside staff and being seen in classrooms.  A community-building principal works to avoid teacher isolation, negativity and resistance; instead, he or she encourages an upbeat, respectful and supportive professional environment. Positive solutions and growth are the norm, not the exception.

Knows how to hire good teachers

One of the best things a principal can do for his or her school is to hire the right teachers. In addition to making sure a candidate has a strong educational background and excellent references, principals can use behavior-based interviewing techniques to get a realistic idea of how well a candidate will perform in the classroom. Behavior-based interviewing operates on the premise that past behavior best predicts future performance. Typical questions begin with, “Tell me about a time when …” or “Describe your experience with …” and can be highly effective in determining how a candidate will handle real-life situations.

Nurtures and growths professional development

Creating a Professional Learning Network (PLN) is a reoccurring theme. When teachers are presented with a clear path to advancement they are more apt to stay at their current school. By providing in-school leadership opportunities – as well as by making professional development accessible, affordable and rewarding – principals demonstrate their commitment to helping staff members grow professionally and excel in the classroom.

Advocates for the school to stakeholders

The stakeholders in any school community are families, staff, iwi, business partners and the public. Each of these categories requires different styles and approaches to engagement. For example, families may have language and cultural differences or an earlier negative experience with school officials. In order to encourage continued involvement and support, principals need to make a concerted effort to understand the priorities and preferences of the various categories of stakeholders.

Communicates Successfully

Good communication is one of the most crucial components of teacher satisfaction; the best principals will routinely examine their communication skills then apply a variety of styles through the school day. There are a few things principals can ask themselves in an on-going effort to progress in this area:

  • Who did I communicate with today, even if it was for just a brief moment?
  • Are my reasons for communicating helping lead my school through positive changes and improvements?
  • Do I communicate in a way that contributes to meaningful problem solving?
  • Does my communication style help to strengthen working relationships among my staff?
  • What areas of communication are the most difficult for me? How can I work to improve in these areas?

Great organizations require great leadership and this is especially true in education. Some of my best ideas are used by wife who is in the cooperate world. In today’s evolving educational landscape, it is more critical than ever for principals to demonstrate to their staff, students and community that they have what it takes to guide their schools to success.

 

Professional Reading:

This week Chapter 5 is a good focus. It is a synthesis so it’s a difficult read.

School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying What Works and Why

 

 

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