Monday, 4 July 2011

Leading For Results

Current leaders can learn so much from the leaders that have come before us.  We all benefit from knowing what has worked for other leaders and getting insights into the question, "If you can only use a few leadership practices, what is likely to have the greatest results?"  For example, what leaders do in schools can have a significant impact (positive or negative) on student learning.  In a meta-analysis of 30 years of research on leadership, Waters, Marzano, and McNulty (2002) identified 21 leadership practices that enhance student achievement.  Savvy leaders actively seek to use these practices:

  1. Building culture by fostering shared beliefs and a sense of community and cooperation.
  2. Maintaining order by establishing a set of operating procedures and routines.
  3. Protecting teachers from distractions that will take away from their teaching time or focus.
  4. Providing resources such as professional development and materials to support staff to do their jobs.
  5. Directly involving themselves in the design and implementation of curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices.
  6. Establishing clear goals and keeping the focus on meeting them.
  7. Being knowledgeable about curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices.
  8. Having quality interactions with staff and students and being visible.
  9. Recognizing and rewarding individual accomplishments.
  10. Communicating effectively with staff and students.
  11. Reaching out to stakeholders and being a strong advocate for the school.
  12. Seeking input and involving staff in decisions and policy making.
  13. Recognizing school accomplishments and acknowledging failures.
  14. Building strong relationships with staff.
  15. Being change agents willing to challenge the status quo.
  16. Providing leadership and inspiration for new and challenging innovations.
  17. Taking action based on strong ideals and beliefs about education.
  18. Monitoring and evaluating effects on student learning.
  19. Adapting leadership style to the situation and being tolerant of dissent.
  20. Knowing the school context and using your understanding of people and situations in your context to solve problems.
  21. Ensuring that staff have opportunities for intellectual stimulation around the work of teaching and learning. 

From:  Leading Every Day by Joyce Kaser, Susan Mundry, Katherine E. Stiles, & Susan Loucks-Horsley
Published by: Corwin Press

40 comments:

  1. Relationships, Dissent & Change
    There are a few leadership practises which jump out at me and others which leave a question mark in my mind. I think the most common leadership practise which I have heard over and over again is #14 - Building Relationships with Staff. I think I understand the importance of this practise and have sought to work on this aspect in particular this year.

    For me, the idea of #14 really resonates because I like the idea of being a change agent who challenges the status quo. I think though, that change cannot occur in large denominations immediately. To be purposeful and meaningful, it should be done in incremental steps. The biggest change that I want to see in education is twofold: cultural and technological. I am sure I will be approaching many of my comments from these perspectives.

    Lastly, #19 also struck a chord. I think adaptability as a leader is so very important since situations are rarely predictable. The second part to #19, just waywardly thrown in is that of being tolerant to dissent. I wonder if this should not have been a category on its own. In Fullan's book: Leading in a Culture of Change, he says: "If you include and value naysayers, noise in the early stages will yield later, greater implementation." The ideas of Waters, Marzano and McNulty seem therefore to be in contradiction to Fullan’s argument for dissent. Being tolerant of dissent hardly means the same thing as treating dissent as a positive and something to grow and learn from.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can't agree more on those practices. There are many good ones on the list but when I step back and take a look at the entire list, I can see that they are all about student success. This is a good reminder for me that school leaders focus on student success and well being.

    Whatever we do at the school level, we do that for the students. I particular appreciate a couple of practices on the list that school leaders need to protect the teaching time of teachers. School leaders also need to provide professional development opportunities for teachers as they are the people who are actually doing most of the life-changing work for our kids.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That is a huge list of practices! Sounds like with the 21 Laws of Leadership (Maxwell) which we need to somehow shrink into smaller, more focused practices. The start of the post says it all: "if we can only use a few leadership practices..." Out of those 21, I wonder which are the most impactful (which will change for each of us).

    From my experience this year, being in a very busy school - busy with students, parents and teachers alike, I feel what resonates most with my practice at this time are #2 and #20. Which hat do you wear depends on the situations we are in. 21 practices are too many for our "Leading Every Day." Somehow I think we need to consolidate this down to about 3 so we can keep it at the front of our mind - similar to curriculum where we have 3 overall expectations and then specifics from within there.

    Does this boil down to (1) Management (dealing with students, parents and teachers), (2) Change Leadership (big picture) (visionary, SPCI), (3)Curriculum leadership (immediate future)

    K. Ko

    ReplyDelete
  4. The principal sets the tone for the school.
    I have heard this comment over and over again. Principal work is a big job. It's a job where everyone is watching to see if all is well and if everyone is happy.
    I recently read a blog, “Lessons from a Principalship” by G. Couros (www.connectedprincipals.com) where he describes the learning from a two year leadership experience. One of the important lessons he shares is that "Building a great school means building a great family." Couros reminds his staff, students and parents that a family environment is where individual members will support one another toward the common goal of growth and learning.
    The principal is like a parent. A family needs a leader and a happy and productive family needs someone who is involved in their lives, is caring about their lives and helps each person to pursue and reach goals and dreams.
    One of the Leadership Competencies that remains with me always is the one that states that good leaders encourage and support leadership in others. It is a basic principle, yet an important one to abide by, that a principal, like a parent wants others to improve and grow academically and in relationship. Therefore, like the robin pushing young ones from a nest, an effective principal will push you forward and also be there to see you through your successful achievement. How does a leader do all of these important jobs? Like parenting, leadership is only made to look easy if you really enjoy it and genuinely want good for others.
    It's important to be able to list and maintain proven leadership practices that are successful.
    It's intricate work, it's sensitive work, it is difficult and easy decision-making work and leaders need to remember that although each aspect of leadership is important, Couros also stated that the most important learning in his leadership experience is that relationships build the foundations of successful schools. All of the leadership principles contribute to success yet remember to maintain and nurture the human side of leading by relating to the people and what is important to them. It's a big job!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Daniella;

    Thanks for your sharing. I like the metaphor that principal is like parent. That's so true in both elementary and secondary panels. Being a parent is a tough job and so is being a school principal who needs different approaches in different age groups of student.

    I in particular like what you said "....Like parenting, leadership is only made to look easy if you really enjoy it and genuinely want good for others". As a new parent, I totally agree that I have to enjoy what I do for my kids, otherwise it is a torture and things may go wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Perhaps, because my inclination is to synthesize concepts as much a possible; the practices listed cluster nicely. What seems like an 'operational' leadership task can be a critical part of building and extending relationships within the staff.

    I think about how the duty schedule is built in an elementary school, or how on-call periods are allocated in a secondary school. think an effective leader as operational tasks that have genuine implications on the relationships and culture of the school or department. A school is a system and what impacts one part of the system has an impact on entire system.

    My personal favorite is # 3; I think, especially in challenging circumstances, a great leader is an umbrella, not a funnel, for the team. Protecting teachers from distractions does not, however mean blocking change. It means being focused on, and engaged in, learning at the classroom (or as Elmore would say the Core) level. The great leader holds the umbrella, and to do that you have to under the umbrella :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I suppose I can find something to connect with in each of the 21 Leadership Practices, but a number of them strike me as being more essential to what I personally feel are effective practices as they relate to student success - but perhaps more importantly to teacher "success".
    I have felt for a number of years that schools and school boards (ours is no exception) tend to constantly modify what had been previously determined to be our "direction" - or abandon it all together. #6 in the list mentions the importance of establishing clear goals and keeping the focus on meeting them. I wonder if our err is in not establishing a clear goal in the first place or in failing to maintain our focus on meeting it? While I understand the importance of evolving as school and Board changes occur, I often feel as if we've moved on to the next thing before completing the last...regardless of its relative success.
    #'s 1,8 and 14 are all connected to being able to establish a clear goal. They speak of the importance of developing shared beliefs and a sense of community and of the role of quality interactions on the part of the school leader with their staff. Quite simply, if the beliefs aren't shared, can one even call them "beliefs" with any confidence or conviction? I think not. And this is where leadership practice #12 becomes involved - seeking input from and involving staff in decision making. The more involved a principal can make the staff feel, and the more opportunities there are for a staff's input to be heard, the better the buy-in and therefore closer to establishing actual beliefs throughout your school. Ultimately the principal must be accountable for the decision made, but at the very least he or she can rest assured they sought the ideas of their staff in informing their decision.
    Jamie Burton

    ReplyDelete
  8. @Daniella (and others) in reading your post, I was thinking of the relationship between "mom and dad" or in a school P and VP. We have likely all seen what happens in a family where the kids either play off the mom and dad against each other, and likewise, staff against P and VP. I have not had this problem (much) and worked well with my P this year, however what are some of the thoughts out there on how you can strategize as a leadership team so that when the "emergency" comes up from a staff member our reactions don't seem counter to one another? I have typically waited before answering but there are times when you can't do that. The obvious strategy of not putting down an idea your colleague has made infront of staff and have the discussion later, but what else can you put in place?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Jamie Burton reminds us of the danger of abandoning a previously set goal too quickly. Clear goals are paramount to success, but as Jamie observes, school boards appear to frequently leave behind or modify goals prior to completion. This can be stressful for both staff and students and can leave in its wake a disengaged staff who are reluctant “get on board” with a new initiative because they are fearful that history will repeat itself and that the new initiative will be abandoned before long. Change takes time and patience.
    Having said that, there is the reality that school boards and schools are responsible to respond to current research and understanding about student learning and teaching practice. It would irresponsible to remain committed to an initiative that has been shown to be ineffective. The leader is responsible to balance the two seemingly competing factors of need for adequate implementation time and the ever-increasing speed of research and innovation.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is quite an impressive list. As I read through, I was thinking of where some of these may fall in terms of the Ontario Leadership Framework. Some of these practices have multiple layers to them. For example, #15 around being a change agent - there is so much involved in this - just ask Michael Fullan! I really liked principle #3 about protecting staff from distractions. There is so much happening now in education and sometimes it's difficult to see how different initiatives fit together - or don't. I feel a leader should be able to articulate the links between these initiatives to staff so that they don't feel overwhelmed and can focus on teaching. I worked with a principal many years ago who would do just that. He would filter what came through to the school. He would let us know about the newest initiatives but then would say that for this year we're not addressing it as it didn't align with our focus. This didn't mean we wouldn't go back to it at some point later - perhaps the following year - but right then it wasn't relevant to the work we were doing. I found this releaved a lot of stress and anziety for teachers as they could continue to go deeper with the learning they were involved in that would ultimately impact student learning.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Safina Noorani6 July 2011 at 17:22

    The Small Office & Nadia R. mentioned their liking for number 3 - Protecting Staff from Distractions. The idea being that teachers need to focus on the teaching itself rather than all the initiatives being thrown at them.

    Personally when I first read #3 (from a teacher viewpoint), it almost felt offensive. I think it is important to clarify #3. As a teacher, I do focus on my teaching and what happens in my classroom. But I am also aware of how the classroom context is changing and how I need to adapt to meet the needs of my students. I wonder if a leader's role might be better as "coach" or "information providor" as opposed to a person who prevents the meandering teacher stray from the path.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for your comments Athena. While I agree with your statement that school boards would be irresponsible to follow ineffective initiatives, I think what school boards fail to do is spend the necessary time to deconstruct the reasons WHY it failed. As a result, the task for principals becomes one of convincing their staff to move on without being able to provide them with those same reasons why they are now being asked to abandon something they may or may not have been personally invested in. This very situation is encapsulted in leadership practice #13 above - recoginizing school accomplishments and acknowledging failures. As the addage goes, we learn from our mistakes. As Athena rightfully mentioned, attempting to get staff to buy-in becomes an even greater challenge when the "focus" is continually changing.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've just read the post and before I respond to other comments, I'd to just reflect.

    I like the fact that this is a list and not several pages of paragraphs. I was thinking that I'd like to print it and place it somewhere where a weekly/daily check could be conducted. As I read the list, I mentally checked the items I'm better at and thought that others need further investigation and focus for me. Having just had to opportunity to go through the EI 360 process with Jan Kielvan, I noticed that some of the points coincide with areas I've noted that should be a focus for my own learning. The administrator role is like an ongoing, self-conducted AQ! It's one that is constantly evolving and articles like this provide us with food for thought and opportunities for direction.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great list - not a comprehensive check list of knowledge and skills, but as a developmental tool. The need to grow can be helped by directions to grow in that are contextually meaningful and responsive to situations.

    Leadership needs to be reflective as well; the list can act as a focus for reflection on practice.

    There was a time, a few years ago, where the word, 'inspire' could not be found - good to see it making a well- deserved come-back - in part thanks to Andy Hargreaves' 4th Way.

    Personally, I’ll tuck it in the corner of my desktop where I’ll find it useful to take a quick look at every few weeks –- to do a diagnostic of my progress. Informal, perhaps not as in-depth as I’d like, but then, limited time is a reality, isn’t it. And, I’ll double check the ‘inspire’ part

    ReplyDelete
  15. Lynne, I also noticed the E.I. piece in the list - and did a bit of a search. Leithwood has a book out called, "Leading with Teacher Emotions in Mind". It was released in 2007 and hasn't gotten much play. Think I'll pick it up. It's time may be coming.

    ReplyDelete
  16. TheSmallerOffice: Number 3 really does hit the spot, doesn't it. In that sense, leadership is a gate-keeper not a bottleneck - although I suspect that staff reaction will vary on which is which ... these are judgement calls, aren't they. Too much 'protection' of staff, or too little, or over the 'wrong' issues and the process derails.

    Having a personal support network to bounce some of these off others in order to gain perspective might be useful.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Shanti Caswell7 July 2011 at 15:04

    This article contains a valuable list of practises that if followed will have great impact for school leadership and student learning. In my reflection, I wonder if the list is somewhat random in its order of if the most important are practices are ordered on the list, 1-21. I am curious as to the ordering but acknowledge that the 21 points are all very important. There is clearly a need to have strong E.I. skills and to build and nurture professional relationships with staff, students and community members in order to accomplish the established goals and to support change and improvement within a school.
    The previous posts about the issues related to frequent changes in focus/direction and moving on from failures without significant analysis is a concern shared by some. The process of change and the speed of change are often uncomfortable and there is a need for the leaders to continuously move forward in a planned manner toward the preset goals. One strong response to this issue in YRDSB is the need for alignment in the Board and School’s Plans for Improvement. This alignment will support a sharing of professional learning, resources and supports for needed improvements within schools and the Board. It is important to prioritize the initiatives and to collaboratively identify the reasoning and data that feeds the need for following our plans.

    ReplyDelete
  18. @teknoteach, I have read many comments and must relate that you are right about the relationship that must be maintained between the P and VP so that a tight team is presented to the staff. All 21 of the leadership guidelines suggested cannot be implemented successfully if the "dirigeants" aren't using the same map! A Leadership Team, like a VP and P need to have a very close and unified relationship, respectfully understanding that both need to be aware of the possibility of detractors who wish to rock the boat. A "tight ship" as goes the cliche, ensures that the leadership is strong and believes in it's direction and initiatives. A VP and P can provide a united front by remembering about respectful relationships with one another and with staff and community! The separation of the team-like the separation of parents- could bring much confusion, pain and fear! The P and VP are responsible for maintaining a united front for the sake of students, staff and the school community! It's paramount!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Jamie and Athena - I've been thinking about your posts that address the modifications to a board's direction. I agree with Jamie's comment that when it seems that we are changing our goal or direction teachers can become disengaged and reluctant to get on board. How many times have we heard teachers say 'this too shall pass?' when something 'new' is presented to them?

    However, Athena's point about it being irresponsible to remain committed to an initiative that has been shown to be ineffective is a valid one. I feel that in the end it comes down to communication. The board needs to clearly communicate why it may be changing direction or modifying the goals/direction it presently has. This then needs to be clearly communicated to teachers. In my experience, I have found that when teachers understand the reasons why a change is taking place, they are more likely to embrace the change.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Lynne and Jan - thanks for making the connection to EI. I like the idea of printing out this list and having it handy for a quick self-check. The Leithwood book sounds like one I'd like to take a look at as well.

    ReplyDelete
  21. As a new VP, I see that some of these points may be much more straight forward to implement and make part of my daily practise, specifically those around following plans, being a curriculum leader, being visible and involving stakeholders in decisions. What I am concerned about is the importance of getting to know the staff and their strengths, and developing the necessary relationships so that I am able to best support the needs of the school. I am curious about practises and suggestions that others have implimented to develop these relationships. There are measureable differences when joining a staff as a teacher colleague rather than a new VP. I fully recognize that by successfully implementing some of the other 21 practises I will be demonstrating my sincerity and strengths as a leader in the school, but there is a time factor also to consider as I must show competence over time (but quickly) as I also try to engage the staff in collaborative work that benefits student acheivement.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Creating a sense of community and shared beliefs as listed in #1 resonated with me. This is also similar to Peter Senge's work on creating a sense of shared vision to support professional learning. Together with the staff and community, the school should become a central hub that is more than a center of learning. A shared sense of community speaks to the staff, students, parents and community agencies working together to foster more than academic learning, but to establish meaningful relationships, and a positive place to be. When staff and students feel pride in their schools, they will self advocate to uphold the behaviours and attitudes that reflect a hub where everyone achieves.
    A school Administrator's influence can be most felt by creating a sense of community, where a person's strengths are celebrated and their needs supported.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Safina, your comment about being "leader as a coach" is a great anaolgy. It helped me think of how a coach will support each athlete differently based on their relationship with that person and understanding of an atheletes strenths and needs. A coach must be just as aware of the athletes physical condition, but also mental preparedness. Similarily, an Administrator will support a teacher to ensure they can deliver the best instruction, but also monitor their emotional well being. They will know when to scaffold support for improvement and when to help a teacher reflect.
    A coach will do more than assist an athlete stay on a physical training plan, they will also ask questions, provide motivation, celebrate successes, listen attentively and differentiate their support.
    I wonder, if we began thinking of an Administrator as a coach, how would this change the perspective?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Christopher Hilmer8 July 2011 at 09:00

    Looking at an early posting, I would agree that 21 practices can seem overwhelming. Boling the 21 practices down into three categories is convenient; however, all 21 practices can be summed up by one pratice.

    The list makes it abundantly clear that one cannot lead from behind a desk hidden away in an office. A school leader must engage all parties -- students, staff, community -- in the change process. It is through this engagement that an organization evolves. The change comes from within the organization rather than being imposed by one individual.

    Whether you call it "engagement" or a "shared sense of community" as Sarah Potter does above, leaders succeed when all parties are at their side. Successful leaders engage everyone in becoming part of the solution.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Claire Hainstock8 July 2011 at 10:35

    Because I come from outside of education, I often use a different lens to look at leadership. What I see as being the biggest restriction to effective administrative leadership in the school is the incredibly small numbers of admin. 3 or 4 administrators, 120 teachers and caretakers, as well as students is simply not efficient.

    An old management proxy has been that a manager should never have more than 8 individuals that he/she is directly responsible for in order to be effective.

    Since we are no where close to this number, should we be reflecting on the structural effectiveness of the school? Is this structure responsible for the ways schools function or don't function?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Well-said Nadia. I totally agree that the reasons for a change of direction in Board or even school initiatives needs to be more effectively communicated so that all momentum is not lost entirely.
    I also like what has been posted about the importance of a consistent and purposeful relationship between P and VP. Being in a single administrator school poses its own challenges when attempting to communicate and lead a staff effectively. It's hard not to present as a one vs. all sort of situation in this instance, for lack of a better term.
    It all seems to come back to the importance of establishing effective relationships with staff. I use "effective relationships" intentionally as they need not be necessarily always on the same page, but they most certainly must be effective in so far as they allow for progress and support.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hi Everyone,
    Apologies for a late entry.Summer School started this week and I am sitting as a summer school administrator. This " list" certainly contains some practices I have had to reflect on this week!
    I can see. Lynn, what you mean by looking at this list of practices to see which areas are areas of growth for us.
    Shanti, as someone also new to a leadership role in a school undergoing significant changes around instructional leadership, I can clearly see your last point. How do we implement so many of these leadership points in a timely fashion while being collaborative and sincere?

    I guess I see this " list" more as a flow chart.To me so many of these practices ebb and flow into each other...Visibility is important because I believe that it leads to relationship builidng, from which I believe the rest of these practices flow and could not happen without.
    Clear goals and expectations can help us, as leaders, to include staff input in school change, and help lead us to shared beliefs and values. As one of my colleagues/department members said to me this year, " We know when you want us to think about something and when it is a must do..." "at the beginning when you started, we heard what you said and were willing to talk about it.Now we get it and we're ready to actually do it." Without the relationship building piece, the input from all department members and clear expectations, the department would not have reached some shared understandings, which then led to change in our practices.
    I guess the challenge for me is keeping all of these practices in mind at all times!

    ReplyDelete
  28. As I read through the various postings regarding the VP and P relationship, I am curious about the way that this team evolves and grows together. As a teacher with administration career goals, I am very interested to learn about how to best work together with my P when Ibecome a VP. I see the necessity to be a united front and to work collaboratively to implement the school plan for improvement, but I wonder if there is any room for authentic debate and disagreement between the VP and P? What happens if a VP fundamentally disagrees with his/her P?

    ReplyDelete
  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I would like to respond to #3 and part of what "thesmalloffice" said. Yes, I do agree with the point of view outlined by "thesmalloffice" and as I reflect more on #3, I thought about the umbrella metaphor as well. Here I am not talking about protecting teachers from distractions, but I am talking about protecting teachers from taking responsibility of some allegations from stakeholders.

    I have seen some principals protecting the staff so much that all allegations or concerns raised by the parents are being neglected and redirected away from the teaching staff. For instance when a teacher didn't follow some protocols in some processes and when the parents raised up the concerns regarding that, the principal simply ignore the mistake made as well as the feelings of the parents. And I have also seen principal replied parents on their serious concerns about a teacher without investigation taken place.

    In some of those cases the parents have to escalate the concerns to the SO, the director and trustee such that their voice is being heard and respected.

    Again, #3 reminded me that a school leader should protect teachers from distractions, but school leader also need to understand that teachers and school leaders have individual professionism and over protection may not be a wise choice, in some specific situations.

    ReplyDelete
  31. @Athena, that is such a great comment! Where is the space for authentic discussion/disagreement with your P when you are a VP. I am suggesting that when a P is making decisions that a VP may disagree with, it is best to allow the P to follow through with the decisions. Having said that, would there not be room to make suggestions or share your thoughts? This is the relationship part that is so important. If one is able to connect in a way with their P to feel the confidence and have the respect to share opposing ideas, then the discussion about necessary decisions can happen. In this way, you do not have to directly go against the P's decisions yet you at least have your thoughts heard for consideration. The P is ultimately in charge and has the final say. I guess it would have to depend on the kind of person/leader you are working with as a VP.
    Doing your best to be easy to talk with and to communicate clearly can make disagreeing much more productive and non-threatening.
    Thank you,
    Daniella

    ReplyDelete
  32. #10 Communicating effectively with staff and students. (~where is the community???)

    Seems obvious, however it is a lot more difficult than it seems. It is so easy to get communication wires crossed, especially in these days of electronic messaging. Reading facial expression and tone is necessary at times to ensure understanding. Leaders need to make the time to meet others face to face in order to develop or sustain the relationships necessary for a productive team. Everything stems from communication and society has to grow with communication technology in order to keep things moving forward in a positive direction.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Well here I am at the end of the week - just wanted to join in and will be more present next week! I am familiar with this Marzano list but as Lynn mentioned, would like to print and post it by my desk to help maintain my focus as the year progresses. For me, I like the first statement on the list: Building culture by fostering shared beliefs and a sense of community and cooperation. This is the key to implementing any type of initiative especially if we want it to have staying power. It can also be one of the most difficult, depending on the culture of the school into which you are 'thrown' as an administrator. By necessity it may need to be a gradual process as trust is built and people become open to change - since it appears as the first item, I wonder if anything else can be accomplished without it?

    ReplyDelete
  34. Hi Jamie,

    I found your comments on the "abandonment" of some goals to be insightful and reflective of the general sense that teachers often have. You pose both the concern and also a very important solution that is important when leading a staff; namely, being transparent where possible about the rationale about a new direction or focus. When leaders can articulate that a shift in focus will support student success and teacher success, staff morale and motivation is more likely to follow. At the same time, a look "back" at why the previous goal wasn't working or needed to be adjusted must happen also. Change for change's sake or because it is "nouveau" is not enough. We certainly are a board driven by innovation and the most current of pedagogy and I believe that is a large part of our success with student achievement. Where the concern could arise is with the layering of new goals, without staff feeling like they have achieved or mastered the former goals, essentially creating a level of frustration at not having developed expertise with a goal prior to moving on to new ones. Perhaps, it is not less an issue of changing or modifying direction as much as it is the pace at which it is felt to occur?

    ReplyDelete
  35. When considering things from a leadership point of view, I often like to make analogies between the way we approach things with students and the way we approach things with teachers. That is, sound education pedagogy can be applied to all learners, whether that learner is an adult professional and an educator, or, a child in their first years of education or an adolescent about to begin high school. For this reason, practice #21 that suggests intellectual stimulation for staff around the work of teaching and learning, resonates with me. In the same way that we differentiate learning for our students, so too should staff have that same opportunity to engage in learning that motivates them, reflects their interests and learning styles and also builds on their strengths and needs. Sarah Potter's comment about administrator's creating a sense of community where a person's strengths and needs are celebrated and supported can be taken further by administrator's having an intentional focus on this area. Creating meaningful, engaging, authentic and rich tasks for students has clear benefits for students' learning. So too can similar opportunities for relevant intellectual stimulation for educators create positive outcomes for teachers and ultimately their students.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Shanti, I know this is late but I was not able to post more than once last week. I think that "being visible" is the first step to building relationships and getting to know people. I'm always amazed at how much people appreciate just seeing you in various places thoughout the day, stopping just to have a word or two where appropriate. Walking around before school, at recesses, lunch and after school allows one to have little chats with students too and to begin to remember their names. Literacy Walks are also important, and I have found that setting a schedule for both admin is helpful and ensures that no classroom is overlooked. Inviting teachers tell you more about a child, an activity, a strategy, something in the room, etc., mostly results in a non-threatening conversation and provides another opportunity to get to know everyone. In conversations with people and in my own experience, it's essential to build those relationships, because credibility will follow. Only then can you begin to take on a great role in setting the direction (your P will already be doing that). Remember, you may be THE new VP (at that school) but you're never A new VP - people just assume you're through and through the VP!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hi!

    I have really enjoyed reading the initial post and the follow up comments. My apologies for my late start.

    It is wonderful to see that we have so many leaders or potential leaders who are participating in courses such as this one. In reading the post from Lynne stating that administrators need to be visible, I whole-heartedly agree. However I believe some of the best opportunities to build relationships and engage in ongoing high quality communications occur most often from our participation as leaders in professional development with our staff. When teachers, teaching assistants and others participate with us in professional development they are able to see us as lead learners. This often builds another layer of the relationship between admin and staff, which includes almost effortlessly some of the 21 points from the article.

    By participating with our staff in learning experiences, we model how to embrace (and respectfully) challenge dissent; we are able to show that we are learners (thus demonstrating the importance of high quality conversations).

    By learning along side our staff we are able to clarify our focus, explain how new initiatives fit into what we are doing …often before the staff have built their concerns into larger than life issues.

    In your admin role guide staff towards what PD is going to be more effective based on what you are hearing your staff say during the professional learning.

    Also as you participate you are becoming knowledgeable about curriculum, instruction and assessment practices that lets be honest…for most of us who have been out of the classroom for a number of years, we may not have had any actual first hand experience with.

    These are just a few of the advantages in strategically involving ourselves in professional learning with our staff addresses. However this involvement does not come without a price. Being a single administrator in a fairly high needs elementary school, I can tell you first hand that this is an extraordinary allocation of my time. I do my very best to protect these opportunities as I recognize their value. However as with anything I have noted that it comes at a cost to other aspects of my job. My walkthroughs this year were far fewer as a result of this participation in may learning opportunities through out the year for example, one particular math initiative, I attended 11 release days with the teachers from my school. This was vitally important to my understanding of the inquiry based math strategy so that I was able to allocate resources and other supports necessary to make the implementation of this strategy a success. Also it was important that I do this so that I could understand the practice and would be able to in-service other teachers (with my lead teachers) and be able to explain the initiatives to parents, thus protecting teachers from those challenges while they learned.


    I do believe that for this year the relationships that have been built, the modeling of life long learning that has occurred and my personal understanding of what the context of the classroom looks like today have made this all worthwhile. I will continue this practice as it will help me to be more credible in my leadership of discussions around what effective practice looks like and also will help me when it comes time to look at what older practices can be purged from our ever growing teaching strategy portfolio.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Hi;
    Finally I agree with the people who see the connections between this list and the constructs of EI. I had the opportunity of taking the EQ 360 as a requirement of my course last week and it was a real learning experience for me.
    I believe that negotiating the intricacies of relationship building in an authentic way while still being in a position where you have a responsibility to ensure that students are receiving high quality instruction is both and art and a science. It is probably the most challenging part of the role for me.

    I do try to remember why it is that I am at work each day and I make this apparent to the staff at my school, however there are times when staff require support and you may question if they really share the beliefs that we as a staff (or a board) ascribe to. It is at these times when as much as i might want to stay away from them (or avoid them) as they are clouding my fantasy of a school that is working in unison to do the best for our students., It is however, precisely the time that I need to be the most supportive and the most engaged with them. It is when i have to bring forward a strategic combination both pressure and support.
    This is a dance that I have yet to master but it is definitely a challenge that we all face on a daily basis as we go forward in our buildings managing change and inspiring staff (teachers and support staff) to ensure that our students are receiving the highest quality instruction possible.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Thanks Lynne for the suggestions for the essential building relationships. I agree that it is very important for the P and VP to be visible and part of the daily culture of the school. As a teacher I was more confident that the administration understood the needs of the school when I saw them interacting with students, parents and staff. Of course I realize that what a teacher might see is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the role of the administrator, but having a strong presence in the builiding is important. I also have very much valued the support and participation of administrators at our professional learning sessions. What I have noticed is that first, everyone needs to be on the same page and at the table to be informed, to questions and discuss, and to collaboratively participate in the necessary learning. Second, having an administrator present informs the learning group that the topics are important and will be implemented within the school. From my experience as a literacy teacher, this leader as collaborator and participant in staff learning made my role as presenter little easier. I think that the administrators in schools where they are single administrators are in a challenging position but ideally, they might promote strong leadership teams in their schools and let some teachers share the leadership where appropriate. Also partnering with other nearby schools for collaborative professional learning is valuable and can distribute the leadership and professional learning model.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I loved the comparison between leadership and management and enjoyed reading the comments. I often consider leadership to be more visionary and lead to long term plans. For example, developing a school plan, setting direction, building relationships, creating content and professional development seem to be aligned with leadership functions.
    The manager, on the other hand, deals with day-to-day functions such as: responding to email, planning school functions, balancing budgets, prepping for a meeting etc.
    Personally, it is the leadership aspect that has always intrigued me. The managerial tasks seem to be the necessary things we have to do. Interestingly I do think that the two are inexorably linked. One cannot function without the other; they are interdependent.
    I also think that leadership arises in many forms, though some of us tend to think of leadership as hierarchical, I believe it can arise from the bottom, middle or top. Yet the term Manager is not synonymous with leadership from the bottom. Nonetheless, leadership does exist in many facets from all angles and aspects of managing do emerge from the bottom as well, though they may not be titled as such. For example, a teacher may show leadership in organizing a school event and also complete all the managerial tasks assigned to that event. In this case, he/she is a leader and a manager.

    ReplyDelete