In New Zealand, principals go to conferences and DPs go to conferences but there is no conference where the full senior leadership team can go together. What we have done three times now is go together to the ACEL conferences in Australia. ChallengED aims to fill the gap in New Zealand.
Vivianne Robinson in Student Centred Leadership says this:
"I was asked if the five dimensions would be a good framework for evaluating principals. I replied that I would prefer they were used to evaluate the strength of leadership across the school and in particular departments or units. The scope of the work is too great and the expertise required too broad to reasonably expect a single leader to demonstrate high or even moderate levels of competence in all five dimensions."
It makes sense to have an organisation where a whole senior leadership team can gather together to discuss and share and have conversations that matter with other senior leadership teams.
1) There is outstanding research in New Zealand on leadership. Obviously the Best Evidence Synthesis stands at the top. As senior leadership teams we need the time and space to discuss the five dimensions of leadership that have the most effect on students outcomes. How do we clear the decks so that "Promoting and participating in teacher learning and development " which has double the effect size of any other dimension becomes what we spend most of our time on ? It is not easy. What is easier is to have a quick read and then file away the document because it all just seems too hard. And it is too hard if we as principals see it as our lone task. ChallengED will give us that space to talk with each other and our colleagues about how we make it work. We all want the best there is no doubt about that but how do we do it ?
2) There is also a mountain of research on learning in this century - the huge impact that the internet is having on the role of the teacher. Students no longer need teachers to provide them with information - they have all the information they need right there on those cellphones that drive us bananas. How do we harness the technology in a way that engages, excites and supports our students? At ChallengED we can share what we have learnt works and use that knowledge to develop great practice in our own schools.
3) We need the opportunity and space to act as leaders of education in New Zealand. Right now charter schools are being promoted, and the review of the Teachers' Council is underway. We need to have an informed view on these issues and any other issue that is being promoted politically. How often do we, on our own, respond? ChallengED gives us the opportunity to have a collective voice, a voice that represents a wide group of informed leaders.
ChallengED will give us the opportunity to challenge the way we do things in a supportive and challenging environment.