On the martyred teacher syndrome
“Come down off your cross, we need the wood!” (Dolly Parton)
I am delighted to be able to join you here today at the 2nd Scottish Government International Summer School on School Leadership. The excellent turn out during the summer holidays is a clear indication of the significance that this event has for educational leaders. I am pleased to see that we have wide representations from within schools (headteachers, deputy headteachers, principal teachers, chartered teachers and classroom teachers) and from local authorities and other stakeholders. I am also glad that the summer school has again been able to attract interest from abroad. I am sure you are all enjoying your week – it certainly looks an interesting, varied and challenging programme. I want to do two things as I speak to you this afternoon.
Chris Ward on day 2 of the summer school challenged us to come up with describing our best leadership qualities. This ‘cloud’ summarises the view of conference. The bigger the size of font, the more groups voted for it!
Both Chris and Malachi came away with a few crackers but quote of the day comes from Chris
“Nobody likes change, except maybe a wet baby!”
This is a guest post from Gillian Hunt (CPD Manager for Edinburgh City Council and Summer School delegate).
Collaborative learning didn’t seem new until experienced with Chris Ward. Her session on ‘Leading to Learn and Learning to Lead’ promised to connect ideas to practice and she undertook to celebrate or cause an explosion! Well, I believe she did both!
Delegates were celebrating good practice with positive affirmation of what they already knew and practising skills from Chris’ repertoire while becoming increasingly innovated, energised and empowered.
Connections were made with colleagues at the table but also there was the ambitious task of working collaboratively with individuals and groups from the 100-strong audience. Chris quoted Frank Smith; “you learn from the company you keep!”
Four panel members; Karen Prophet (Head Teacher), Don Ledingham (Director), Val Drew(Chartered Teacher) and Kristy Rennie (Faculty Head) ably and admirably demonstrated leading learning in their various contexts. Chris used a variety of collaborative learning techniques to draw out the learning from all the panel members . You can get a flavour of techniques from the presentation below.
My own personal actions from this session which will benefit both me and my team:
vision + skills + incentives + resources + action plan = CHANGE
Graham Thomson of SCSSA informed and entertained the participants over 2 hours on the afternoon of the first day of the international summer school. ‘Good schools have good communication’ was the starting point for an inspirational presentation. Good leaders influence and persuade others to do things they would otherwise not have done, and communication to enable this is a key responsibility of good leadership. Graham emphasised the importance of a collegiate approach in school with leaders being aware of their personal qualities and interpersonal skills in the development of good relationships with colleagues.
Graham moved on to talk of how ‘collegiate schools promote the voice of all individuals within the school community’ and this communication is a key feature school improvement. We as leaders need to ‘be aware of the use of language in maintaining effective relationships’. As ‘Hendry’, Graham illustrated the importance of language in a humorous scenario involving 3 of the participants and which clearly exemplified the need for clarity of communication when interacting with staff. This extract focussed on the requirement for all of us to be aware of types of intellectual information including data on what we observe and how this makes us feel.
We know that ‘individuals perform at a higher level when they feel valued and participate in the decision making process in school’, and Graham reflected on the need for praise to be an integral feature of school life. He stressed this use of praise as a powerful instrument to ensure good leadership in influencing others to improve performance.
Graham’s message to us was clear and encouraged the participants to critically reflect on our own practice. How good are we as communicators? What is the extent of our reflection on our own use of language in our communication with others?
The message from this exhilarating session was clear in encouraging us to reflect on our own practices as leaders and for us to realise the importance of the power of communication as a resource in facing the dilemmas and challenges of leadership.