Leadership in education
We have all experienced being shaken and stirred in some way over the last 18 months. Boundaries in our lives that were established have been blurred or changed. Having to change the way that we work and the way we view our work has shifted, and changed our priorities.
Workplaces have changed in most sectors and are in the process of being changed again. As the restrictions ease, there are new issues to deal with and new processes and systems that have arisen because of the pandemic, are now being adopted again.
In education, repeated changes have affected both pupils and teaching staff. Adapting to the series of schooling policies being developed and implemented into practice has been a regular occurrence. Teaching staff having to measure input and output, innovate and create new approaches to be implemented, reviewed, and adjusted. Classrooms changed from in-person teaching to virtual teaching, then a return to in-person teaching and the added pressure of social distancing, testing all, impacting on the teachers and learners.
For us all feeling safe and moving forward is a very individual journey. The leadership in our education system are dealing with the significant impact and the effect of working within changes that happened with speed. They are now dealing with learners and colleagues, who each have their own experiences and challenges.
How do leaders manage these unprecedented changes and return to in-person teaching and practices expected within their establishments, while still moving through their own adjustments?
A coaching culture can meet people where they are and develop positive learning on many different levels. By integrating care and support ideas with learning, we create a relational balance that offers a new way of contributing.
For educational leaders, these changes have been demanding, with constant challenges and changes dictated by policy. There has been no previous precedents and no experiential guidance on implementation into practice to follow.
Those staff meetings and impromptu face-to-face discussions important to the team relationships also changed under the impact of distance. Those important moments where social relationships are built, simply vanished as part of the need to implement the new practices and then monitor review and revise accordingly.
There has been a reduction in opportunity for the interface of more experienced staff to engage in supporting their colleagues with less experience. Creating that distance and feeling that there is less time to engage and learn from each other.
What we can take from this experience, is the importance of the human dimension for teachers and learners and the establishment of an education system that recognises effective learning practices that are blended with inter-relational connectivity. A change and dynamic that can create a new way of approaching the organisation of teaching and learning.
Change management in most sectors is a gradually developed process. A process that incorporates the ideas discussions and negotiation of staff groups and their representatives.
A new leadership could have emerged in the sector, one that has no KPIs or inspection framework or benchmark. New learning considerations have the opportunity to be created. The aim and the progression of education going forward must be to safeguard the learners and support continuity of the staff team under disruptive and uncertain times.
Every expectation of the changes from above and below falls onto the leaders in the sector.
Self-care and support must be a priority to sustain the balance of their own health and well-being. Increasingly leaders are managing the emotional responses of others. Consequently, their own self-care must be a part of the staff development model going forward. A model, that incorporates crisis and change management techniques as a priority of the leader’s skills portfolio.
A positive redesign of educational approaches to learning with consideration of the emotional, psychological as well as the academic. Policymakers can prepare establishments to incorporate personalising features and creative design with blended learning models that will integrate with person technologies.
Learning models that give greater independence across the team.
Supportive learning practices for leaders
- Coaching and mentoring partners internal and external to the establishment.
- Coaching supervision to address individual learning development and engagement journeys.
- Revision of how time and governance of the learning day is managed.
- Brief and debrief techniques.
- Mediation methods.
- Collaborative community working and networking to connect learn and share experiential knowledge.
Teachers and Learners
- Learning pods to capture new methods of connectivity and collaboration.
- Subject learning buddy systems.
- Shared resourcing systems.
Any change that happens can be supported within the establishment by professional coaching. A coaching culture can meet people where they are and develop positive learning on many different levels. By integrating care and support ideas with learning, we create a relational balance that offers a new way of contributing.
By developing staff in this way, the quality coaching conversation can become part of an integrated staff/learner development model within the educational day.