Leading

There has been so much written about leadership that I sometimes think it impossible to add anything more substantive to the discussion. The academic paddock of leadership theory has well truly been ploughed and lead to a rich harvest in many domains. However the issue of leading is a different proposition all together – there is a big difference between the two.


Leading is “doing leadership”

Professor Patrick Duignan


And leading schools in a web 2.0 world is extremely demanding. Schooling in today’s world demands a new toolkit for “doing” leading. The web 2.0 world has replaced old certainties with new ambuigities and trusted processes with diverse paradoxes.Most importantly these technologies now provide wonderful opportunities to reframe the schooling experience in some extraordinary ways which meet the possibilities of both a physical and virtual schooling experience.The opportunity to move from a learning paradigm based on a “just in case” model to a “just in time” paradigm demands innovation, diversity, clarity, flexibility, boldnesses and rigour. I express this challenge as six elements of pedagogical leadership and welcome your comments on the following questions:

Precision
how do you know you’re delivering on your school’s intent?

Velocity
how do you maintain a relevant schooling experience in a web 2.0 world?

Curiosity
where might curiosity about emerging technologies lead in re-imagining schooling?

Radical
what current assumptions about learning, teaching and leadership might be challenged in a knowledge age?

Resilient
what leadership examples can you offer which displays resilience, especially around emerging technologies?

Relentless
how can leaders maintain their focus on schooling amid the everyday distractions?


4 thoughts on “Leading

  1. Some good thoughts here, Greg. I am not certain that leading in a web 2.o world requires a ‘new toolkit’ for leadership as you suggest. It could be argued that the tried, trusted and tested ‘habits’ of leadership exercised successfully by generations of leaders in the past will still continue to reap success in the future. Art Costa and Bena Kallick’s research on the characteristics and habits of effective and successful people is outlined in their series of 4 books on the ‘Habits of Mind’. The 6 demands you outline in your post are ‘habits of mind’ that have always been practised by good leaders and they sit comfortably with Costa’s and Kallick’s Habits of Mind eg Precision equates with Costa’s habits of Striving for Accuracy and Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision; Curiosity equates with Questioning and Problem Posing; Relentless ties in with Persisting; Resilient equates with Applying past knowledge to new situations and so on….
    If we as leaders can inculcate such ‘habits’ then we will be able to lead successfully in a web2.0 world or web 3.0 for that matter. Even better if we can lead schools where these habits of mind are embedded within the school culture and valued and practised by staff and children/students.

  2. I agree Vince, but I think I’m expressing it in a way I have come to understand. It is a matter of internalisation don’t you think?

  3. Recently our staff had a discussion about what these six elements refer to in terms of teaching and learning and pedagogical leadership. Here are our thoughts!

    At the heart of all al pedagogy in schools should be the focus of improving student learning and outcomes.
    Precision:
    Precision is transparently linking all pedagogy of learning to the stated school intent agreed upon by all agents through consultation and collaboration at all levels (including students). The intent must be clearly and succinctly communicated and accurately targeted through all learning and teaching agendas and should be research based and data driven. This then makes the intent linked to the school context and student needs with integrity. Precision is critical in strong pedagogical leadership so that intent is understood and enacted by all.

    Velocity:
    The question here is ‘how we, as teacher leaders deliver a curriculum and learning environment that maintains relevance in a web 2.0 world’? Our core activity – learning and teaching – needs to be highly responsive to the new world of expanded communication and ‘beyond blue’ thinking and pedagogies. Teacher leaders need time to learn and acquire web 2.0 skills and knowledge and be willing to build personal and professional capacity with it with their peers and their students. Planning and pacing is critical if pedagogy is to be implemented well. Velocity also needs to be tempered so that it is strategically responsive not reactive, yet ‘doesn’t lag behind’ so much that the gap for all learners (both adult and child) becomes an impediment to progress and achievement of goals and intent.
    Curiosity:
    Curiosity is about questioning and problem posing to make student engagement in the learning process more challenging and relevant. It is about how we can re-image schooling to increase capacity of all stakeholders and build knowledge around all things learning and teaching in a web 2.0 world. Curiosity about emerging technologies can lead to new discoveries about the craft of learning and teaching; it can lead to inquiry and innovation and therefore create a dynamic and interdependent structural web that propels organisations (schools) into trajectories they had never thought they would even begin to embark upon. Curiosity leads to inquiry, inquiry leads to discovery, and discovery leads to risk taking and risk taking leads to new knowledge and, often times, unintended innovation!

    Radical:
    Radical pedagogical leadership dares to challenge current assumptions about learning and teaching and to act upon it even though it is uncertain and at times problematic. Radical doesn’t mean throwing away tried and true methods, strategies, solid instructional skills and good practice. Radical might mean taking what we know about learning and teaching and ‘twisting and tweaking and even completely reinventing’ it to apply it to a new and evolving world of learning and teaching which involves emerging technologies. Past knowledge + new knowledge + imagination + flair = RADICAL.

    Resilient:
    The ability as a teacher leader to know what is sound pedagogy, what works, what can be changed, what can be left behind and what could be …….tried, investigated, exciting, interesting, expansive, amazing………..and not to mourn and moan about what life used to be as if the new is worthless and has little credence in improving our core business……..improving learning outcomes for all! Everything in teaching was once considered new and innovative and challenging until it became the norm and accepted practice……do you remember? Resilience in pedagogical leadership knows when its time to make changes, when things aren’t working as well as they used to and having the courage to go through and go forward. Resilience is looking at learning and teaching through the lens of experience and wisdom and knowing that the core activity of learning and teaching can and will look different at every stage and age of evolution. Resilient teacher leaders take up the challenge and go forward with confidence and perhaps…..a little excitement!

    Relentless:
    Insistent! Consistent! Persistent! These words should become the catch cry of every teacher leader when it comes to pedagogy. Know the mutual intent of your school or organisation and maintain the focus even when the everyday distractions and ‘busy-ness’ of overcrowded curriculum, system demands, organisational and management constraints threaten to derail you. Be discerning in what you allow to detract from that intent and steadfastly do what you know pedagogically is sound and be vigilant in maintaining what is relevant, strategic and worthwhile in ‘preparing learners for their future not our past’ (Lane Clark)

  4. Love your comments Liz. The six have to be internalised to make sense. Your comments around resiliance and “knowing what works” is a key. We are lucky to have a great body of literature to which we can turn here. We know what makes a difference and that is good teaching using good practice informed by the best data, then great support from school leadership and system.
    We know what works so we can go forward with confidence. It is good to wrestle with these issues

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