Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Integrity, Authenticity & Accountability

Speak with integrity, lead with authenticity and hold yourself accountable

Here are my comments regarding the article, '5 ways to be a conscious leader'.

1. Cultivate self-awareness-
Becoming self-aware is arguably the single most beneficial thing you can do to up your leadership style. 

As a leader and as a coach, I believe every leader can benefit from coaching, as I have found it develops self-awareness. I wonder if it becomes more important for leaders to develop self-awareness with their increased responsibility? I’ve read about the isolation and loneliness some Principals experience and question if they had the support of a coach, could this assist? It’s important to also mention that coaching is based on a trusting relationship, which I have previously articulated in the article, ‘The Benefits of Coaching’.

2. Check your influence-
We are the product of the five people we most associate with

This year I attained a leadership position at a new school and I have been reflecting on the characteristics of acquaintances, colleagues, and edu-friends. Over the years, it’s been interesting to observe who has made the effort to stay connected and who hasn’t. It’s not a judgement but I wonder if the conversation or relationship is elicited by the context or your role?

Throughout the years, my critical friends or my go-to people have changed. But then, there are some who for whatever reason, are always there, whether it be to support, to be a critical friend, to push my thinking or to ask the difficult questions. Every school holidays, I make an effort to meet up with educators who I admire and respect. Selfishly, these conversations inspire and can reignite my passion. I truly value these conversations. I can name the 5 people who continue to be influential in my education career…. can you?

3. Meditate-
The great thing about this ancient tradition is that there are many forms of meditation.

My drive to work has been extended so I have an additional time to plan or reflect on my day. Yet, I do know this is an area where more focus in needed. 

4. Be intentional-
Conscious leaders succeed because they bring intention to everything they do. 

As an educator, I have learnt to ask one question. “What is the purpose and what is my intention?” If I stay true to always asking this question, then I will stay true to myself. Although schools are busy places, we should make the effort to pause and question the services, processes and traditions we have continued. I’m not saying we should change everything but we should ask about the intention and the purpose. 

5. Practice the four agreements-

1. Be impeccable with your word (Say only what you mean, and don’t gossip or speak negatively).

It’s easy to get drawn into gossip or to speak negatively when you’re tired and feeling overworked.  It takes effort to stay low on the inferential ladder.

2. Don’t take anything personally (Nothing that others do is because of you, it is all a projection of their own reality).

Teaching is personal, especially when you invest so much of yourself in your work. This agreement is difficult to sustain. I have learnt to not respond immediately. Take at least one night to respond and speak with a critical friend. Firing back immediately never generates the most rational conversation.

3. Don’t make assumptions (Instead, have the courage to ask questions and communicate).

Being a coach has really helped me development my ability to not jump to conclusions or assume. Staying low on the inference later is vital

4. Always do your best (Your best may change day to day, but by doing your best you can avoid self-judgement and regret).

I think leaders and teachers judge themselves too harshly. Educators tend to hold criticism like Velcro and compliments like Teflon.

Please feel free to provide some comments on this article and my reflections.


Saturday, 16 June 2018

Pedagogical Activist

I recently attended a 2-day conference on the topic of ‘Capabilities’ at the Association of Independent Schools. Capability refers to the higher level of ability that an individual can achieve or improve to, whereas capacity is the ability that exists at present. Some may get caught up in the various labels used such as capabilities, dispositions, 21st century skills, global skills, competences, non-cognitive or soft skills, 4Cs, 6Cs, 7 Cs etc. My view is that educators and leaders should focus not on the label but on the purpose. Why do we value these skills and abilities and how do we design learning experiences to develop these in our students? Presenters spoke of a balanced approach to learning. 'Don’t fall for false dichotomies-progressive versus traditional, content versus skills'. It’s a balance of both. We need to develop knowledge (brain) and character (heart).

While I could comment on the keynotes and workshops I attended and how I’ve been inspired, this post is focusing on one single tweet. One that I collated from slides provided by Charlie Leadbeater @LeadbeaterCh and added a simple comment.

The biggest problem I find in education is that we never ‘drop’ anything. We keep adding new but don’t replace. Is it about taking a risk? I’m wondering ... #aisnswcapabilities


The responses this post generated provided some wonderful analogies.
For every ‘implementation’ what do you take away? Pruning works for plants, axons, dendrites and overall growth. We need to look to nature to grow children and schools. Don’t water the rocks. 
I spent many summers on my family’s orchids and love your analogy - still worried we might be pruning an unhealthy tree 
We never have anything taken off the table. Just added to. When does the table collapse? 
The analogies here are great! Add to them a multi-layered cake... Eventually it becomes unstable, unhealthy and too complex to eat (where do you start?!) 
Yes, we are so scared by compliance. I love seeing my Ts as risk takers and designing & implementing an innovative learning program. 
I like to think about it as making visible the approaches that are already there, perhaps they are subversive influences (for good or bad). How do we tweak/challenge or amplify what's already there, perhaps subconsciously. Must go deep!

One person, one political party, one organisation cannot design a dynamic learning culture; it needs to be a collective effort. A collective review and renewal of our curriculum and assessment practises to allow organisations/schools to design, facilitate and lead dynamic learning opportunities for our students. Students, teachers and educational leaders need to have more influence and be more involved in the decision-making process. As the tweets and analogies above highlight, maybe it's time we rethink education in Australia.
  • What isn’t working in our context?
  • What is working well and how do we know this?
  • What can we learn from research, data and evidence?
  • What can we learn from other countries and contexts?
  • How could we adapt what we learn from others for our context? (not replicate)
  • How can we give all stakeholders a voice in the decision making process?
  • How can we promote and recognise educators as the 'professionals'?
  • Who is prepared to take a risk for our students' education?
  • What should we drop, retain or introduce?

As Dr Katherine Hoekman expressed and tweeted - Let’s be Pedagogical Activists.

Always asking questions...