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Showing posts from May, 2014

We Need To Change Our Minds Before We Change Our Practice

I have been talking to various audiences of groups and individuals recently about my investigation as part the fellowship programme for the Scottish College for Educational Leadership. As part of this investigation I am considering some of the obstacles that are preventing more schools from adopting a practitioner, or professional, enquiry approach to teacher, leadership and school development. Various and varied evidence exists from the work of Helen Timperley, Marilyn Blatchford Smith and others that demonstrates the effectiveness of such enquiry approaches in developing teachers and schools. My own experience over the last four years has given more positive evidence as to the effectiveness of an enquiry based approach. So, my question is, what is stopping others from adopting enquiry based approaches when there is such a large body of evidence that demonstrates it works.

When I meet with teachers and headteachers, surprisingly enough, they are all very very busy. Being so busy they…

What I Have Learned About School Improvement Planning

Like most schools in Scotland, we are well into the process of school improvement planning, as we approach the last six weeks or so of the current school session. Today myself and the senior management team have been looking closely at the results of recent self-evaluation activities undertaken by staff and pupils. The results of these specific activities are put alongside the other measure we have been using since the start of the current session, in order to really inform us about where we are in terms of our development and progress, collectively and individually.

When we have considered views of staff, pupils, parents and partners we will then sit down and put together our School Improvement Plan for the next school year. This will be the fifteenth SIP I will have been involved in developing and writing and I thought this might be an opportune time to share the lessons I have learned about SIPs over the years. As usual, I offer these in the spirit of sharing and  perhaps to help y…

The Three Rs of School Leadership

I was thinking this morning about the word 'relentless' that Michael Fullan had used up in Edinburgh a few weeks ago. He was talking about Headship and school development, and I really liked the use of the word to describe the attitude and desire to improve what we do and produce better outcomes for learners. That's what set me off on this post. Actually, there are more than three Rs in this, but if I took notice of that it would spoil the title!

So, I start with relentless. We need to be relentless in our pursuit of school improvement and development. This desire to improve is not something we can take a break from in fulfilling our roles and delivering on our responsibilities. (There you go! Another  two Rs there straight away.) I like the principle that this is a continuous, career long demand and expectation of ourselves, our schools and of those we lead. Each year we should be able to look back and identify how we have moved on individually and collectively. Relentles…

What Works For Schools Should Work For Leadership

I am currently undertaking an investigation into leadership development, as part of my Fellowship of the Scottish College for Educational Leadership (SCEL). I am focusing on the use of an enquiry based approach to professional development for school leaders. This is based on my experiences over the last four years where the schools I lead have been using professional, or practitioner, enquiry approaches to develop individuals and the schools. This work has led to positive impacts for learners, teachers and the schools. Teachers have found that their professional and personal identities have changed as a result of this approach. This is a key impact identified by Knudd Illeris in his book 'Transformative Learning and Identity' (2014) to demonstrate that learning has been truly transformative for learners. Given such positive impacts, it would seem to me that what has been shown to work so effectively with teachers can also have similar impacts for leaders and their professional…

Conditions for Change in Schools

Something I have been considering today is, what are the optimum conditions needed for deep, sustainable school development and change to have the best opportunity to succeed? Having listened to Michael Fullan, Clive Dimmock and Graham Donaldson speak recently, and after recent reading of articles by Helen Timperley and reports from  the Teaching and Learning Research Project from England, there seems to be some consensus about various aspects that need to be in place.

These would include:

A school culture that is based on support and trust. Not something that can be established overnight. It takes time to build trust and demonstrate willingness and preparedness to support colleagues. Fullan stated that to establish trust, we should first say it, then model it in our actions, and finally keep monitoring it to ensure it was still there and live. Similarly with support, we need to complete the same process so that colleagues see that we are being non-judgemental and wish to support every…