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Sustaining Distributive Leadership

Video Links of Lead Teachers Sharing Reflection on Leadership

This video shows two lead teachers discussing how the professional development and tour of other schools has impacted on them as leaders. They also discuss how this transfers to getting alongside their teachers and developing their confidence.  http://youtu.be/eDyCsKTlTD8

This video shows a Lead Teacher who is not the "wiz kid ICt teacher" sharing how through the professional development she has felt empowered when she works with the "wiz kid teachers" in her school.



The context:
The GSC ICT cluster is made up of ten schools from the Greater South Canterbury area. During 2010 the cluster concentrated on building capacity in all teachers and the evidence collected showed this worked.

2011 Focus
Now the focus is on building sustainability within and across schools and to achieve this we have embarked on building distributed leadership. The programme that is being especially designed and delivered is built around leaders knowing themselves and building leadership qualities by challenging people to think differently about situations.

This meets the cluster’s goal of enhancing the capability of principals to lead and manage sustainable changes that result in effective ICT integration and distributed leadership within their schools. The expected outcome is that principals are applying distributed leadership practices within their schools to build school-wide capability. Through doing so, principals will be demonstrating a greater level of understanding of effective e-learning integration by leading the implementation of thinking skills, “Teaching as Inquiry” and the application of data to monitor and inform practice. 

What did we do -Part 2
Tour of Schools
 An externally facilitated 2.5 day tour for principals and lead teachers to visit schools in or near Christchurch to observe innovative learning programmes and effective change management practices.
Link to reflections on the tour are avaiable on our wiki.
Leadership Practicum
School leaders gained a greater understanding of what the Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES) has found that leaders need to do to improve student outcomes.

They discussed how school leaders play a crucial role in improving outcomes for students. The BES research identified 5 key dimensions from analysis of data that effective leaders engage in:

  • Establishing Goals and Expectations
  • Strategic Resourcing
  • Planning, Coordinating, and Evaluating Teaching and the Curriculum
  • Promoting and Participating in Teacher Learning and Development
  • Ensuring an Orderly and Supportive Environment

They also discussed the 3 additional dimensions from indirect evidence:

  • Creating educationally powerful connections
  • Engaging in constructive problem talk
  • Selecting, developing, and using smart tools

Participants also discussed from this research the leadership knowledge, skills and dispositions that leaders need to put in place:

  • Ensure administrative decisions are informed by knowledge about effective pedagogy;
  • Analyse and solve complex problems;
  • Build relational trust;
  • Engage in open-to-learning conversations.

The group discussed each of these aspects within school groups and also across the cluster. They identified their current strengths and also their next steps for development. Very valuable insights were shared amongst the leadership team.
Summary of findings
The cluster applied their knowledge gained from the research when discussing and critically reflecting on a case study from the Educational Leaders website. Strong views were expressed which showed their understanding of the BES research on effective leadership.

From this platform the Lead Teachers and Principals reflected on the cluster goal :to enhance the capability of Principals to lead and manage sustainabale changes that result in effective ICT integration and distributed leadership within the schools . At the planning day for 2012 five schools were ready to lead the cluster in 2012 around 5 key areas that the cluster Lead teachers and principals had identified and that would sustain the development into the future. This pointed to the success of the approach this year in growing leadership. A  job description for Lead school has been developed and Principals and Lead teachers are exciting about the approach being planned. It is hoped that these schools will be able  to continue to provide leadership and be a resource in their particular area after the contract is finished.

The other success is  the shift in student capabilities this year as reflected in the student survey where there were notable shifts in student skills compared to the beginning of the year.

This was not mirrored in the teacher survey which indicate no major shifts in skills this year. this is to be expected when the focus has been on building understanding of leadership in Lead Teachers and less focus on teacher skill development.

Next Steps

In 2012 our cluster will investigate 5 different aspects of e-learning with schools taking leadership of the professional development for the cluster on these 5 aspects. The success of our approach will depend on the leadership skills that have been developed in the last two years. A job description has been developed for the Lead Schools.