Most leaders would like to think that they are able to offer direction which impacts deeply and long term on their school/system and students’ overall achievements. However, do they? How do they go about it?
I remember when I was a child that the most intreguing people with whom I had the greatest respect, were my grandparents or people of that ‘older’ generation. I now realise why. It wasn’t the stories they told (though they sounded great), it was the ability they had to listen, to be genuinely concerned and to take the time to talk through problems. They were never in a hurry to be anywhere else, and you always felt you were appreciated and needed when you left. It was a relationship which I treasured, as I treasure the relationships with all of my collegues. We are in a human service organisation, dealing with real people with real feelings. Educating and leading educational reform is relational, and based on trust.
‘Relational Trust’ is a term which Vivian Robinson coins in examining the impacting and long-lasting factors of good pedagogical leaders.
The more leaders focus their relationships, their work and their learning on the core business of teaching and learning, the greater their influence on students.
Vivian Robinson advocates for the need to drive change from data. She gives some good hints for leaders:
- Leaders need to participate in teacher development.
- They need to be the lead learner (they are not just the people who find the funding or organise a where or when a meeting is to take place!). Participating in the teacher development demonstrates where the leader places the importance – on the core business. “If the leaders are involved, then they are more likely to know what the teachers are up against and are able to create the conditions to help them make the changes in oder to connect their professional development with the progress of their students”.
- Drive change from the point of data, BUT go through the process.
- Look at the greatest need first as identified by both the teachers and leaders.
- Examine the data and the processes of how this data is gathered and how it is interpreted.
- Engage in dialogue but don’t persuade teachers to change in a particular direction.
- Devise a theory or way forward together. Sometimes there are two (one from the leader with their own theory or way of doing things, and one from teachers – usually stipulating that there is nothing wrong with the way things are being done now). However, if we could get a better result by using a different method, would this be okay?…..
- Leaders and teachers test their theories. Both groups need to be present when testing (i.e. teacher and leader).
- Predict what students will do.
- Collect the information.
- Analyse the information against known or prior agreed upon benchmarks.
- Talk bout the current theory of practise being used.
- A joint decision to change is agreed upon.
- Follow a second level change process.
- Driving change from persuasion may work if the Relational Trust is strong and has been built over time. It should be used rarely. In this way you miss out on the steps following ‘Engage in Dialogue’.
An effective pedagogical leader will ensure that change to be implemented is successful by helping others to meet their obligations to their peers.
“We are dependent on; what happens on the playground, the staff next door and what the teacher last year did”