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How is leadership changing?

Wednesday 5 May 2021

The pandemic has changed the way we all have had to work.

The pressure on school leaders working in these demanding and chaotic circumstances has been relentless.

New leadership skills are being brought into focus. I have explored some of therse on the following pages of this website:

Leading in a time of crisis 

What kind of leader am I being? 

How do I lead people remotely? 

How is leadership changing?

The pandemic has changed the way we all have had to work. The pressure on school leaders working in these demanding and chaotic circumstances has been relentless. Research is starting to appear on how leadership has had to respond. In their article ‘COVID 19 – school leadership in disruptive times’ Alma Harris and Michelle Jones offer the following seven propositions for consideration.

  1. The importance of context responsive leadership implying a shift in school leadership practices because of COVID19 (Harris 2020).
  2. Leadership preparation and training programmes require a radical re-think and significant modification to remain relevant for aspiring and practising school leaders.
  3. Self-care and consideration must be the main priority and prime concern for all school leaders.
  4. Ultimately, pedagogy is the key to effective learning and while technology has a part to play, it is the human dimension of effective teaching that makes the difference.
  5. Crisis and change management are now essential skills of a school leader.
  6. Communities are a key resource for school leaders, as they host a wealth of additional expertise, knowledge, and local capacity.
  7. Through absolute necessity, rather than by design, effective school leadership is now connected, collaborative, creative and responsive.

ThinkIns to meet the challenges

To meet these leadership challenges I am facilitating a number of short ThinkIns for InThinking. The full list of these seminars can be found HERE.

What makes school leadership effective?

A Think-in for all teachers who have, or are looking to achieve, a leadership role within their school (pastoral leader, subject leaders, grade leader, senior leader).

Session 1: What are the marks of a leader? In this session you are invited to think critically about the nature of leadership and its role in schools. Using a rich resource toolbox, you will be introduced to the various forms and styles of leadership and provided with strategies for leading in your own school.

Session 2: What are the marks of effective school leadership? International literature confirms the centrality of leadership to school improvement and student outcomes, and that it most effectively influences school outcomes indirectly through multiple variables. In this session we draw on research to identify the marks of effective school leadership – be it at grade and subject level or at senior leadership.

Leading with a mission and vision

Who are you and where are you going? These are two essential questions for all of us who work in schools. A Think-in for all school leaders – middle leaders and senior leaders – who are responsible leading a section of their school. It will help you to refine your mission and vision.

Session 1: How do we lead our mission – be it as a subject or grade leader or as a whole school leader? A mission is our identity. A mission statement states what we are, what we stand for. Our mission drives all that we do. Stop anyone in the corridor or classroom and they should be able to explain why their subject / school is different, why that difference is a strength, and why they feel lucky or proud to study or work there. Are you certain of your identity? Do all key stakeholders have the same confidence? 

Session 2: What’s our vision and how do we lead others in achieving it together? A vision statement declares to all where we are going. One of the most important responsibilities of any leader – grade leader, subject leader or whole school leader - is establishing a vision and inviting others to share in it.   

How do students learn?  

A Think-in for all teachers and subject leaders who want to develop their understanding of how learning happens.  

Session 1: How do we think? All about the brain. This session looks at what all teachers should know about how the (students’) brain works. How do students construct learning? If it is our job to develop the mind, shouldn’t we understand how the mind works? Research suggests that increasing a teacher's understanding of the science behind how the brain learns leads to enhanced teacher efficacy and instructional variation, as well as enhanced student efficacy (Hardiman et al., 2013). This session will provide you with a quick and engaging way into understanding how to scaffold your teaching to support what science tells us about how the brain works. Learning about how the brain works underlines the importance of many of the IB approaches to teaching and learning. 

Session 2: How do we create the optimal conditions for learning?  In this session we discuss how to create the optimal learning conditions in our classrooms. It draws on research as well as providing you with the Top Tips of a global group of IB Educators and Workshop Leaders. In the second half of the session, we inquire into how to make learning memorable – how should we best prepare students for exams in a way in which they remember what they have learnt? 

How do leaders effectively develop teams?  

A Think-in for all subject leaders and coordinators into four aspects of leading effective teams. 

School leadership – be it leading a department or subject or leading a whole school - is multi-dimensional. Effective leadership requires a wide range of competencies and relationship skills. In this Think-in we explore some key competencies and relationship skills of effective leaders.

Session 1: How do I lead people?  A proactive session where we explore dimensions of leading a team:  

  • how to effectively influence and motivate people  
  • how to create and lead high-performing teams  
  • how to effectively communicate with others

Session 2: How do I lead the learning?  As leaders we are responsible not only for the learning of our students but the professional development and growth of our teams. This session provides a focus on professional growth and development – how to we encourage our tea to be professional inquirers and reflective practitioners? 

Leadership: Change management  

How do you bring about change and get ‘buy in’ from the team? This Think-in is an introduction to change management, suitable for senior leaders, programme coordinators and heads of department.  

Session 1: How do we lead change? In this session we will discuss why bringing about changes can be so challenging and identify the key drivers to make successful change. 

Session 2: Do you have a process of making changes in your school?  In this session we will explore some practical change management tools and models for bringing about changes and improvements in your team and school.  

Tags: leadership, pandemic


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