Friday, November 12, 2010

School Leadership that Works - part 2

My previous blog post was about the impact school leaders can have on the day to day improvements in a school.  This post is about what has been called second order change - in a nutshell this is innovation.

  • Knowledge of curriculum, instruction and assessment - already written about in the previous post - involves being knowledgeable about how the innovation will affect practices in the school.
  • Optimizer - being the driving force behind the new innovation and major initiatives and fostering the belief that it can produce exceptional results.  This involves inspiring teachers to accomplish things and having a positive attitude about the ability of teachers to accomplish substantial things.  It's also about leading from the front.
  • Intellectual stimulation - this refers to the extent to which the principal ensures that teachers are aware of the cutting-edge research, theories and practices regarding effective schooling and makes reading about and discussing them a regular aspect of the school culture.  Providing faculty with intellectual stimulation is vital for increasing achievement, but costly in terms of time and money as teachers need to attend quality conferences, workshops and PD programmes.
  • Change agent - a great principal needs to consider new and better ways of doing things, constantly challenging the status quo, even if it temporarily upsets the school's equilibrium, and needs to be willing to lead change initiatives and move forward with uncertain outcomes that have no guarantee of success.  S/he needs to consistently attempt to operate "at the edge versus the center of the school's competence".
  • Monitoring and evaluating - already written about in a previous post - a great leader needs to be continually monitoring the impact of the innovation.
  • Flexibility - this refers to the extent to which leaders adapt to the needs of the situation, how comfortable they are with making major changes in how things are done and how comfortable they are with dissent.  Great leaders encourage people to express diverse and contrary opinions and don't take these personally.
  • Ideals and beliefs - already written about as this is also important for day to day changes - but clearly it is important for leaders to operate in a manner consistent with his/her beliefs.
This is the really interesting thing for me:  some of the leadership responsibilities are actually negatively affected by innovation and change.  For example culture, team spirit, cooperation, communication, order and routine may actually deteriorate for a while as a school starts to move forward.  It was good for me to read this and reflect on it as I have come to realise that what I have experienced and what makes me uncomfortable might actually be a sign that things are moving in the right direction and perhaps I need to be a little less hasty to judge and to look more at the long picture and not just the short-term.

Photo Credit:  Leadership

1 comment:

  1. I want to work in a place where this is the profile of the leader. It can be uncomfortable, but change usually is. Thanks Maggie!