Thursday, 27 July 2017

The good leader is the one who knows the answer at the end of the meeting.

I have just finished enjoying reading Michael Fullan's little book  --
I say 'little' on purpose because here is a book that is incredibly easy to read and very short -- just 70 pages  - unlike other serious tomes on education that can be difficult to to make your way through even with the best of intentions.

I will write more about this book but the line that has captured my imagination is the one in the title. "The good leader is the one who knows the answer at the end of the lesson."

The skills that are required  if that is the case  are many and varied and not ones that are usually taught.

Education HQ Article

1) Goals
It was our aim from the start that every student who entered the school would experience the dignity of being a valued learner at the school. We started with the mantra  "It's not if you are bright it's how you are bright"  We knew what we did not want and that was to create a school where some students felt more entitled than others and where some students felt as if school was just not for them. We wanted every student to feel success as a learner and to be involved in regular conversations about their learning with teachers who really cared for them and knew them well and could encourage them to believe in their success.
We also wanted a school where teachers could learn and grow and become leaders.
2) Have we achieved the goals ?
While I always feel that goals are simply works in progress, if you ask any student at the school they will tell you that the best thing about the school is the relationship with the teachers. I feel very heartened by that because that is what really matters. I am inspired by the way our teachers and leaders take time with students and care for them.
A great number of our teachers have continued to study through University and have brought their learning into the practices at the school. We have a professional inquiry model that supports teachers to continue to learn and grow and I feel very proud of that.

3) Highlights
The highlights for me continue and are mostly bound up in what I have learnt and what I continue to learn.
I have learnt that architecture really does influence behaviour. It is our experience that having open plan learning spaces encourages the students to behave well, mindful of the other classes around them.
I have learnt that when you give students space to learn and grow in their own way (in the impact projects) and not have the limits that the curriculum and assessment places, that their learning can be extraordinary and unexpected.
I have learnt that when senior leaders work intentionally and rigorously  with their middle leaders that both parties grow and develop in ways that create new knowledge.
I have learnt that teachers can learn and grow when they have a professional inquiry model that demands that they challenge their assumptions and collaborate professionally with each other.

4) Unique things about the school
There are many unique aspects to the school eg  this is a senior school so we just have students in Years 11, 12 and 13, we have just 3 periods a day, we have extended tutorial groups which the students stay in for the three years they are here, we have open plan learning spaces, Wednesday is a dedicated day for our students to design and develop their own projects, students choose what they wear to school, students address the teachers by their first names, we have learning dialogues with parents, our teachers are in communities that are not subject based, we have a unique learning model.

5) My style
My style of leadership is to create leaders around me. I want to be the leader that creates the platform on which leaders can grow and develop. To be honest, I always end up being a bit in awe of the people I work with.

6) Advice.
Focus on what matters  - which is how each child is experiencing learning in your school - how each child is feeling nurtured in your school.
Cast a critical eye over traditional practices that stand in the way of any student feeling valued as a successful learner and set out to replace them with healthy practices.
Be a leader of learning (everything else you can learn when you have to). Keep up to date with current research and inspire your teachers to do the same.