Building trusting, positive relationships is at the heart of any leaders role. To lead you must have the trust and respect of those who you would have follow you. In schools this means that you must be constantly striving to build connections with students, staff, parents and the wider community.
I recently was lucky to be able to spend a whole day with a group of middle leaders unpacking a new “coaching” role within our cluster of schools. At the core of the matter was the ability for team leaders to build a coaching relationship with their team in order to effect ongoing increases in team capacity. It is an exciting development and one which operates with a high-trust model. I am keenly aware that our success as leaders relies on this key trait: our capacity to build positive, professional, trusting relationships with the people around us. As John Maxwell states in his sixth “irrefutable” law of leadership:
Trust is the foundation for all effective leadership. When it comes to leadership, there are no shortcuts. Building trust requires competence, connection and character.
“The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”, John Maxwell
The following article is a great quick read which outlines 5 practical ways school leaders might create a more inclusive and positive school climate – something which we should all have in mind as we live our lives and work with our students, parents and staff. I might get a lot of light ribbing from parents who see me at the school gate clutching my ( rapidly cooling ) caffeine fix on cold mornings – but I have to say that I am a convert to the idea of making sure the first school face the kids and parents see each day is a smiling one!
“A positive school environment is one that is welcoming; it’s one where staff, students and parents work together. It’s where the school leaders know many of the students’ names, and people smile instead of frown.”
This is a very provocative quote from Michael Fullan and Maria Langworthy which headlines a new project into the development of new pedagogies to promote “deep learning”. It might sound like bog-standard education rhetoric to many teachers who constantly reel from one initiative to another.
But digging deeper into this new project has gotten me very excited. The cluster of schools which my current school is part of has been lucky enough to find a place on the exciting new global project which aims to bring experience and research across diverse education systems to build global collective capacity to pursue “deep learning goals”. The more I read about the project the more excited I am at leading this initiative in our school.
The New Pedagogies for Deep Learning project takes as its focal point the implementation of deep learning goals enabled by new pedagogies and accelerated by technology.
In many ways the deep learning goals will be familiar to many involved in the development of vision for 21st Century learning. Indeed they skills described mirror aspects of such frameworks as the PYP Learner Profile, The Key Competencies in the NZ Curriculum and the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum. This will allow educators across a diverse range of learning contexts to be able to see connections between their own vision for students and the vision of the project.
As a team our school is already exploring new ways of working and discovering how the changing roles of teachers are evolving as we grow our understanding of modern learning practices. We are in the middle of developing a personalised vision for modern learning. In this time of change I can see a window of opportunity to not only rethink our learning programme but radically reshape our vision for our students and place them at the centre of everything we do as a school. Working together as a team both at our school, across our cluster and as part of a global project – what an exciting, rewarding and challenging learning journey!