Tag Archives: Leader

Leading Your School

8 Sep

Leading Your School

Relational trust is something we all need to work on in any organisation the least of which is in schools. Here are some things I think about a great deal when dealing with staff.

  • Do What You Say You Will Do – This the ultimate way to gain their trust. It means following through with what say you will do.
  • Do The Right Thing – Regardless of whether or not anyone is watching you, integrity cannot be compromised. It takes many years to establish your credibility, but it only takes a few minutes to ruin it.
  • Care For Your People – Before we ask our people to do something for us, we must appeal to them and touch their heart.
  • Serve Your People – When we serve our people, we ensure that their interest is taken into consideration. By doing so, we don’t focus on who gets the credit. Our focus shifts to getting the job done.

Are there some things you would add?


Growing Leaders

23 Jul

Last term I had some engaging conversations with my Heads of Department. Our school, like many around the country, is transforming the way we look at teaching and learning. Our conversation really got me thinking. Through our transformation process, I need to cultivate teacher leaders more than ever before.
Teacher leaders are the backbone of our work, and we as an SLT can’t do it alone. Let’s take a look at some innovative efforts that are changing schools around the country. I thought of ways they could develop their faculties. This coincided with some advice I was giving to another school so this developed real purpose.
A great leader brings out the best in their staff. There are several common denominators when it comes to strong leaders. Here are a few:
1. Has a sense of humor. This doesn’t mean a boss that constantly cracks jokes or acts like a clown. It simply means they are approachable, relatable and see the value in an upbeat, positive workplace. A friendly office environment starts at the top.
2. Allows freedom to fail. Once employees are given the proper training, a good boss will step out of the way. Employees flourish when they know they are trusted to do the right thing after given clearly defined expectations. A good boss steps in when they see an issue, but continually relies on employees to do what they have been hired to do.
3. Values strong communication. A good boss clearly articulates expectations, freely shares news that will benefit their team and offers feedback, both positive and constructive, to each employee they directly supervise. Most importantly, they establish communication as a two-way street, creating a safe atmosphere to voice opinions and concerns.
4. Asks for input. Everyone on the team is there because they have professional skills to contribute to the organization. A good boss knows they can’t be an expert at all things, and must rely on their team for corporate success.
5. Encourages growth. A good boss will provide opportunities for employee development and growth. They are tuned in to those who demonstrate initiative and are eager to expand their knowledge.
6. Acknowledges success. A good boss compliments and rewards their team and doesn’t miss an opportunity to “brag” about an employee’s job well done – at a staff meeting, board meeting, or in front of a client. Happy employees are a direct reflection of a good boss
Cultivating teachers for shared leadership roles can have a lasting impact on a school community and its climate. It allows school the SLT to tap into the expertise and experience of some of its most dynamic teachers and give them a way to share their skills with their colleagues. Teachers who serve as instructional coaches and mentors to their peers can have a far greater positive impact on changing instructional practice in a school.



School Culture

2 Jun

There is plenty of literature and research in recent years that cites positive teacher-student interaction as the biggest factor in improving student learning. In other words, better teaching equals better learning. This year with our new mentoring programme we are going a long way to develop this.

Hattie advocates that each of these factors accounts for only 5-10% variance in student achievement and therefore we should focus our efforts on the teaching and improving what happens in the classroom. While I don’t disagree with this (remember students quit teachers, not subjects), I think we need to remember that what happens in the classroom does not happen in isolation. The minor factors of Home, Schools, Principals and Peer Effects total about 20% – but is this insignificant? I would also argue that not only is 20% a reasonably large contribution to student achievement, but that also these things greatly impact what is happening in the classroom.

‘School Culture’ is everything that exists outside of the classroom (essentially, the “20 %”). The ‘Center for Improving School Culture’, a North American institute, encapsulates my thoughts even better by suggesting that School Culture “is shared experiences both in and out of school, such as traditions and celebrations, a sense of community, of family, and team”.

Our school has started the strategic planning process. At Staff Briefing on a Friday we are asking what will a great school culture look like at our school? It has to be more than shared morning teas and singing contests. It has to be a focused on teaching and learning opportunities. The journey continues…

In the good old days…

27 May

As we wait for quicker network connections at school I’ve been reflecting on the things that we have grown up but are becoming out-of-date and why:

  1. Letterboxes (people relying on email/text/twitter)
  2. Fixed phone lines (everybody has a mobile phone)
  3. Car keys (sensor locks)
  4. Wallets (credit card details can be on the iPhone, as well as virtual cash)
  5. Television sets (replaced by iPad/iPhone/computers/ Internet television ITV)
  6. Diaries (iPhones)
  7. Cash (ATM’s, credit cards)
  8. DVD, CD’s (replaced by iPad/laptops/computers/ITV)
  9. Bricks and mortar schools (replaced by e-learning, distance education)
  10. Retail shops (replaced by online shopping)

I hope we don’t see schools heading the same way.

The world students are growing up in is very different to the world we experienced.  I think it’s important to reflect on this and how pervasive technology is in their lives.  The things they use each day don’t disappear, they just become smaller, faster and more powerful.

Society seems to have been able to adapt to these changes, perhaps with a little nostalgic yearning for the good old days. We shouldn’t see these as threats but as opportunities to enhance our lives. It has to be the same for schools. ICT is only an extension of the teacher’s toolkit; its how we use the tools to support learning will determine students’ futures.

Leader or Manager?

3 Aug

The way we educate students leave many of them feeling as though what they’ve “learned” is of no value; that the “lessons” they’ve received each day are of no use in the real world. We have created a system where we are assessment driven and students want to know if a task is worth credits. This leaves many teachers disheartened.

New strategies, tactics and procedures are developed to make the next school year better than the previous. Over my years in the classroom, I’ve been able to develop a few ways and means of getting the most out of my students and these overlap with staff.  This year I have also been reflecting on staff and how I can work with them in a better way. Gleaned from my inquiries, readings and experiences I made a list as I resolve this am I leading or managing.

The following site was particularly useful. http://leadonpurposeblog.com/2013/06/29/are-you-leading-or-just-managing/


1. Relationships – In order to reach any group of people, you must know the audience to which you are speaking to. You have to speak their language, you must invoke their values and traditions in order to get them to go along with the information or concept(s) that you are presenting. You’ve got to meet people where they are. The learning plans we have developed for classes this year are an illustration of this.

2. Don’t Lecture – When people hear anything that sounds like a “lecture,” it is rarely a pleasant thought — it usually involves being punished. In the classroom, a lecture or talk should be more participatory in an effort to cut down the boredom of the students so they can gain the most in any lecture or talk you provide. Same with staff.  This requires patience but it is well worth it.

3. Choices – People like a choice. Often, we don’t provide our people with a choice when it comes to the assignments they have to do… maybe we should.  Giving a student the option of completing either assignment A or assignment B can create independence and ownership of the students work by the students themselves. My staff have been given choices in a number areas.  This has proven successful.

4. Let them Choose – People are opinionated: create assignments that allow them the freedom to give their “expertise.” Create a case study surrounding the content of your lessons or meetings, using language arts as the means for execution and reinforcement: verbally and on paper. This links to student voice or meaningful professional learning.

5. Examination and Discussion – Of course, I don’t mean arguing for argument’s sake. Rather, healthy discussion creates a healthy environment. Being nice is not enough.

6. Use The Technology – Make it their friend not the enemy.

7. Have Fun – Play and have fun when gaining an understanding of whether or not your students learned what you’ve taught them. Use meetings as “bonding” activities to have fun. We have initial one of our staff briefings as Fun Friday. Not nuts and bolts. Its all taking time and learning in different ways.

Professional Reading:

Indigenous Epistemology in a National Curriculum Framework

Angus H. Macfarlane, Ted Glynn, Waiariki Grace, Wally Penetito and Sonja Bateman

A real meaty piece this week which kept me occupied over the holidays. The paper discusses important parallels between western/European sociocultural theorizing on human development and learning (on which the key competencies seemed to be based), and the values, beliefs and preferred practices that are embodied within an indigenous Maori cultural worldview (Te Ao Maori).

Fear and Pain

27 Apr


Crazy as it may seem, this week I had time to reflect on two issues. Fear and pain motivate you to stop, run, avoid, or stubbornly dig in. They don’t move you forward. As a leader this is important to consider.

Fear and pain may ignite a passion to change. No doubt the All Blacks had a great deal of this going into the 2011 RWC. Manchester United had a great deal of pain after being beaten on the last day of the season by their City rivals for the EPL title. The problem, fear and pain only works for the short-term. It creates a huddling effect but doesn’t create a future. These sports teams could tell you that.

Fear and pain are good if they drive you towards two greater things. Courage and joy is the point I have found. What I’m learning then is:

  1. Fear comes with us when we move forward, accept it.
  2. Faith answers but doesn’t eliminate fear. I’m learning to trust others. Empower others I suppose.
  3. Conversations change me. I’m fortunate to have conversations with some of clever kind people; their stories, experiences, and wisdom inspire me.
  4. Sharing my inner-most thoughts took time. However, the more I do the easier it gets.
  5. My journey makes some uncomfortable. Because it does.
  6. I can’t please everybody because decisions based on other people’s values and opinions are not positive.
  7. Exploring and understanding others opens the door for me to explore, understand and communicate with myself.
  8. Doing what’s best for others isn’t people pleasing as long as it aligns with my values.

What have you learned about yourself this year that has made a change?

Professional Reading

Leading inquiry at a teacher level: It’s all about mentorship by Mike Fowler

Click below to go to the article.



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