I have just finished 2 consecutive weekend workshops with Bill and Ochan Powell. If you ever have the chance to take a course with them, either as part of the PTC, or with EARCOS, or from their consulting company, I highly recommend it. They are dynamic team and their workshops area always jam packed with the latest research and teaching methodology. Going to a class with Bill and Ochan always inspires me to try new things in my own classroom and gives me a foundation from which to work from – exactly what I want from quality professional development.
This is my second course with Bill and Ochan over the past 2 years as part of the Ed Leadership certification program I started last year. The first course was on Cognitive Coaching, which was fantastic as well. This time around we were looking at Educational Change. We focused mostly on leadership styles and how to implement educational change successfully – starting from leadership at the individual level, to teams, to whole schools. As someone who has often been put into a leadership role without any formal training, it was so interesting to read about various leadership styles and to see where my “default” behaviors lie. The whole course really made me take a look at what leadership is actually about. We read tons of great articles and had some great discussions about personal experience. What it all boiled down to for me is trust.
It’s interesting to think that even when you are hired for a leadership role, you still need to earn the respect and trust of those you will lead. It’s not enough to just have the title, you need to build personal relationships and demonstrate that you are not only capable of the leadership position, but that you are trustworthy. Without the confidence of your staff, you will never truly lead. People will always look for (and most likely, find) a way to work around you if they don’t trust that you can handle the situation. I’m curious though: How do we determine that a leader has earned our trust? And as a leader, how will we know when we have earned the trust of those we lead?
In international schools, where we are very often moving from country to country, this must become a huge aspect of our jobs. Just getting hired at the job fair doesn’t automatically put you in a position of authority – you have to earn it, in every school you work at, almost as if starting from scratch every time you accept a new job. We discussed different ways that international school administrators handle coming into a leadership role at a new school. One especially effective method we talked about is spending a period of time just getting to know your staff before you make any effort to institute major changes. For me, that was an important lesson – in order to effectively lead in any situation, you need to take the time to get to know your staff, and equally important, to give them time to get to know you.
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