Tag Archives: Leading Change

Leaders of Learning

27 Jul

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This week our middle leaders (Leaders of Learning) have been doing some great mahi in leading change. It has been challenging. There are many difficult jobs in a secondary school – but leading a subject area, especially a large subject area, has to be one of the most difficult.  I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some inspiring Curriculum Leaders.  They grow and nurture teams, who then achieve fantastic outcomes for the students they teach.  As I look out my window today, I thought I might the strengths of my people.

  • Role models – they are always, first and foremost, great teachers and they understand what makes great teaching within the context of their subject and can articulate this clearly with their team.
  • Set the standard– they clearly identify the standards they expect to see on a day to day basis – and live and breathe these themselves.  This creates a shared clarity of purpose.
  • Moral purpose– they have an unswerving commitment to getting the best deal possible for the students who pass through their subject.  They understand that a good education can transform life chances.
  • Expect excellence– they strongly believe that all students can get better and be successful.
  • Pride in their faculty– they patrol their s area and make it clear to the students that they are in charge – and that the students will meet their expectations!
  • Parental contact– they won’t hesitate to call home – and will support their team with doing the same.

 

I believe while SLT leads our school strategically the Leaders of Learning make things happen.

 

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Managing Change

20 Jun

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I have been dealing with a great deal of change management in the last couple of weeks. This has tested my skill set. I know at one meeting it also tested my patience. This book really helped me through. Here are some of my musings then:

Reflect and evaluate.  By thinking through the meaning and implication of the feedback, you can learn from it and consider what parts to work on, what parts to disregard, and what parts require deeper understanding. To do this, it helps to think about your development areas, the value you place on this individual’s perspective, and possibly, what you have heard from others as well. This is also the time to come back to what you may disagree with. Given that your objective was to learn others’ perspectives on you, ask yourself if it’s worth the potential damage to go back and “correct” the information. Typically, it’s not.

Plan and act. All the steps before this set you up to plan and put it into practice. Pick one or two capabilities you want to improve, get really clear about what “improved” looks like, and then consider the steps necessary for you to learn and adopt that new behaviour. Planning and acting are not only important for your learning and development, they’re also a signal to those who shared the feedback — you are serious about improving and you value their perspectives.

Sustain progress and share updates. You need to repeat new behaviours for them to become new habits. If you go back to your feedback providers and tell them what you are doing differently, you’ll give them a catalyst to change their perspectives, validation that you heard and appreciated what they had to say, and the opportunity to see you as a person who is committed to your professional development.

Great leaders are great learners. Their never-ending pursuit of information pushes them to constantly improve and sets them apart from the rest. Getting and learning from feedback isn’t always easy, but it is necessary, if we want to become better. It’s rare that our colleagues will offer us the kind of feedback we need to develop, and rare that we respond in a way that rewards their efforts and helps us improve. It’s worth building the skills to do this well if we want to reach our full potential.

Leading Change at Manawa Tapu

5 Nov

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Pope Francis said recently we are not in an era of change, but in a change of era.

Have we done the following in leading change?

Start by building a collaborative culture.  Collaborative and shared leadership that is transparent to all staff, students and the community provides a powerful conduit for change.

Strategic planning is a team sport.  Leading change requires a collaborative effort.  We (leaders, teachers, students and community) need to be a committed to a common purpose.

Manawa Tapu is a complex environment so it is important to fully engage all the stakeholders especially teachers and students, but also parents, whanau, community and business interests.  It is important to hear a range of perspectives around change.

A cohesive plan.  Strategic planning is the systematic process of envisioning a desired future, translating this vision into broadly defined goals and determining a sequence of steps to achieve these.  Without a plan there will be confusion and false starts – attachment

There is no easy answer and no short cuts. Others cannot do this planning for us.  We have to walk the path to own the resulting plan. This needs to be a structured and thorough process, allocated the time and resources to ensure it will be successful.

That said, we do not have to do this on our own.  Have we tapped into the knowledge and experiences of our group? It is always useful to bounce ideas off others. Connect and converse to tap into the “wisdom of the crowd”.

It is important to incorporate expert mentoring and support.  Have you engaged with your “critical friend” – someone to look over your shoulder, to challenge your assumptions and to provide both expert knowledge and different perspectives to enrich conversations and decisions.

Only add something more useful – and always try to take something away! Teachers are already overloaded so we need to plan to add value by introducing interventions that not only improve their effectiveness in the classroom but add efficiencies and reduce workload.

Have we monitored our progress and evaluate the impact of our interventions and broader plan! We need to know how these strategies are bedding in and if these will improve student learning.

Have we ticked all of these?

Leading Curriculum Change

12 Aug

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Currently we are looking at curriculum change and a great deal of has to do with trust. I have learnt a great deal this week an made some mistakes. As a school leader I need to understand that change can only be made by people, not the leader, and when more people are making change, the organization is accelerating change.  Here is guide that as a school leader we must consider if we want to make change and make it rapidly.  The better we get at employing these accelerators, the more change and the more sustained change they will see.

Here are 8 strategies that great leaders employ to get substantial change.

  1. How you treat people,
  2. How you listen to people,
  3. How you create a system of continuous improvement,
  4. How you invite people and new ideas to the table of change,
  5. How you empower others to lead change with you,
  6. How you communicate the positive growth along the way,
  7. How you reflect, refine and revise change along the way.
Change is hard, but it’s really hard in a negative culture.  Change is implemented easiest when leaders remember that they’re not there to change an organization.  Th

Solutions to Coaching Barriers

3 Apr

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Like any new project I have led in school there are barriers. Now I would like to look at the way of overcoming the barriers I talked about last time.

  • Accept this will take time   Don’t be impatient. Establishing a coaching programme may need to be in it for the long haul. Spend sufficient time gaining insight into the reality on the ground so that future visions can be specific to actual school conditions. This requires research, planning and networking. Out of this will come success
  • ‘Educate’ key individuals   You know who they are. Once you have that compelling rationale, back it up with case studies from other relevant organisations/high-profile individuals. Organise PLD, send staff to related conferences, and begin to organise coaching sessions for them with respected external coaches. A different voice saying the same message while frustrating for you is gold. Once key individuals can study, understand and experience the benefits of coaching they will be much more likely to prioritise it. ‘Educating’ key individuals is also likely to encourage the spontaneous emergence of ‘champions’ for the coaching cause. From these an individual with sufficient profile, charisma and influence can be approached to spearhead the creation of buy-in throughout the organisation.

 

  • Modification. Be prepared to change the vision. It is ok.
  • Remember, successful implementation of contextualised coaching programmes within your school takes time, determination and clear planning.  It will take a mind-shift. Interesting while this has been about coaching you could apply this to any item of leading change. What has been yours?

Authentic Leadership

23 Nov

 

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There is no doubt SLT who develop lasting, trusting relationships with their staff build on a foundation created by doing their job and doing it well. We need a foundation of credibility before he can earn the relational capital that creates trust. Establishing your ethos on campus comes in a variety of ways (and happens differently in each unique situation). I’ll be the first to say that each path toward trust is unique, but it’s never bad to start by managing the referrals that come your way fairly and efficiently, committing to being a learner in your leadership role, and moving toward each new year looking for ways to serve students and teachers in new ways.

It is about being mindful. Being mindful used to simply mean being consciously aware of something, but it has come to represent a state of mental being that is achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment with calmness and a sense of serene acceptance. I do believe there is a larger need for all of us to be more mindful, but in the traditional sense of breathing more and taking the time to reside in the moment. I am personally less inclined towards loving-kindness meditation as I feel mindfulness as a movement is a concession to the belief that we can’t change the pace of our lives. I support the mindful revolution in schools, but not at the cost of tackling the issues that require it. To be truly mindful in schools, I think we need to find our element and be “in the zone” as Ken Robinson suggests. By finding time for our passion, Robinson contends, we will be more present, more centred, more in the here and now. This is how we should construct our schools. It’s another choice.

Trust is important also.  Trust must be earned, your work as a SLT is far from over when you reach that point. Having the respect of the teachers is not the same as having a relationship with them. Cultivating those trusting relationships is vital if you are interested in creating change (and who is not interested in creating positive change):

All leaders know the power of buy in, but it is not always the quickest road to a solution. However, getting buy in on the front end of change can make a profound difference on the success of any attempt at change in a large organization like a school.

We provide this for teachers routinely, but we rarely ask for it in return. Hearing critical feedback makes us better at providing the same for teachers, and knowing the concerns of those we serve allows us to keep a close watch on that which affects those activities.

Asking question is important. Asking these questions is not magic, but it is a great start for developing relationships through conversations with staff.

As a leader, you have to walk the walk. Credibility has a short shelf life. Even though faculty meetings and PD days are important arenas in which we must excel, we cannot only show up then.

Fullan and Leading Change

6 Nov

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Michael Fullan has long championed the critical importance of transforming school culture and writes extensively on the topic. His perspective is also clear: “Structure does make a difference, but it is not the main point of achieving success. Transforming the culture – changing the way we do things around here – is the main point.”

For many, simply introducing change to schools is the golden bullet solution. Our recent HOF Inquiry understood this fact early. There is no point in making change unless you have clarity around “why?”

Despite the massive investments that reveal the productivity towards this trend, the reality of organizational change is far more complex. The jury is no longer out on the impact of technology on formal learning. We know that attempts to engage in change (be it digital or otherwise) without vision are simply not going to have much of an impact. Attempts to transform schools because there is some populist pressure to do so have proven similarly facile. Embracing innovation for student-centered reasons with vision and culture that is carefully cultivated to allow this vision to thrive is the way forward. I consider myself fortunate to work in a school where this is part of the ambition for every learner.

I have written about culture often recently. I guess it is on my mind. Change without attention to culture is no change at all. Levin and Shrum’s study echoes this perspective: “Leaders that engage the school community in the effective use of technology… appreciate the power of school culture. They create … cultures in which meaningful teamwork based on trust is the primary force of professional learning and continuous improvement.” This trust must be centered on a conviction that we are doing what is best for students and that, as professionals, we routinely question what this means.

The following have been on my reading list in 2017. Worth a look.

Couros, George. In the Service of the Right Aims, 2016.
Richardson, Will. Learning. All. The. Time. 2016.
Bersin, Josh. Predictions for 2017: Everything Is Becoming Digital. 2016.
Fullan, Michael. Leading in a Culture of Change. 2007.
Levin, Barbara B.  & Schrum, Lynne. Leading 21st-Century Schools: Harnessing 

Head of Faculty Inquiry

24 May

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I am finding Maslows model useful in my own inquiry. It considers what the teachers need from the leader and outlines “a set of knowledge, skills and dispositions required for meeting those needs”. During the leader’s ascension, toward the apex there are key checkpoints, questions that leaders need to ask themselves for the vision realised. This is my simplified version of Knuth & Banks strategy:

First Level: Your actions match your words
Leaders model core values and principles. You are able to inspire trust and articulate vision. Principle-centred leaders inspire trust by displaying consistency between core values, words and actions.

Leader Checkpoint 3: Is your internal compass in or out of alignment?
If your words and actions don’t match there’s no need to go any further.

Second Level: My physical and material needs matter to you
The work environment is clean and attractive. Sound, air-quality and safety needs are considered. Teachers have the resources they need to do their job well.

Third level: I am appreciated for my contribution
Leaders actively foster a sense of belonging. Encouragement and recognition is personalised. They put a human face on policies and systems.

Checkpoint 2: Is it your priority to ensure the basic needs of your people are met?
Without valuing people, clear systems, policies and training for staff, a leader’s energy is consumed by chaos or disorganisation and probably interpersonal conflict.

Fourth level: We’re on a journey together
As a community we own the vision, good systems are in place and we are able to direct our collective energies to our core mission.

Checkpoint 1: Do you feel like settling?
It’s all humming along nicely now, let’s just enjoy this. The fourth level is considered the ‘false apex’.

The Apex: Higher order change
This is rarely linear, rational or comfortable. It is disruptive, chaotic and tested by ambiguity. Leaders here demonstrate adaptive leadership skills. This is where the disruption happens. Remember: it isn’t actually an end point.

Fullan & Langworthy (2014) – A Rich Seam: How new pedagogies find deep learning
(Ch 6 The New change leadership)

Change Investigation

27 Feb

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Change agents know this lesson all too well—that bringing about necessary change often means taking a risk and being the first to try something new. It not only applies to all teams, start-ups, and social activists, but it also applies to schools.

“Someone has to go first.” My 8 year-old had this in mind as she dived into the pool on Monday night. Someone has to go first.

Even when it’s scary. Even when you’re all by yourself. That’s what I knew then, and that’s what I know now.

On my own school campus, change started when a small group of teachers decided it was better to be brave than to be boring. Down deep, we knew we needed to change the way our classrooms engaged in discussion. This year our pedagogical investigation will exam next steps into the next century.

Leading Change

28 Nov

Impact

“Change is neither good nor bad. It simply is.”  Don Draper

This week at our DP/AP meeting Greg Kirk from Goggles On presented on Leading Change. It got me thinking. Some of my thoughts were the following.

You can’t manage change. You try to anticipate it and then adapt to it. That’s the core competency that each of us needs to develop and continually strengthen. At a collective level, it makes an organization that much stronger to adapt to whitewater events which can capsize the unprepared.

Management guru John Kotter provides a very useful model for leading change efforts. His eight step process, which has been adopted by many organizations and leadership practitioners, encompasses the following steps:

1) Establishing a sense of urgency
2) Creating the guiding coalition
3) Developing a change vision
4) Communicating the vision for buy-in
5) Empowering broad-based action
6) Generating short-term wins
7) Never letting up
8) Incorporating changes into the culture

At the core of Kotter’s model is building change adaptability within an organization and learning how to focus the energy of employees towards a shared vision.

Change leadership evokes the critical importance of humbleness as a leader. You need to adapt. Ask the question why.

 

 

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