25 March 2016

Communication and Leadership

I am mindful of how well I am communicating daily as this is an area that is a continual focus for me.  There are areas of communication that I know I am improving in but there is much to be done here. 

I was asked to watch and respond to this video this week. The key questions were "what has gone wrong with regards to communication? How could it have been avoided. 

Personally, I think here that all parties communicating have failed to establish any form of relationship prior to communication. Assumptions have been made by both parties. I think the lighthouse needed to identify itself immediately and perhaps a common language could have been decided upon... it seems that there is a real sense of self importance by both parties. 

Mark Reding pointed out to me last year, that we talk in words but hear in pictures... By this he meant that all of our conversations are influenced by our past experiences and what we bring to the conversation... I have found this is something to be mindful of on a daily basis.
I think this article shared via Twitter last week, is quite timely for me and fits nicely with this discussion.
I also read Ramsay's article about the 20 biggest communication mistakes we can make as leaders. I think that my biggest take-away is that this article reinforces how important effective communication is. I have to confess here that in a former life, I was actually a bit of a jargon junkie. I have absolutely flown with terms such as "ubiquitous", "agency", "connected"' and "ILE". (The list is endless.) Fortunately, I have been challenged to drop the jargon. The reality was that with a team of teachers starting out fresh from a range of backgrounds and diverse schools, we didn't even totally understand what each other was saying!!! I am working really hard at the KISS approach. I do have to admit here... dropping the jargon has added to my communication woes. Ensuring that we are all talking about the same thing was so much easier with jargon... (or, so I thought).
No. 6 really got me thinking about the place of large group gatherings. Ramsay states that there is a difference between teaching and preaching. He also says that "kids tune out, pontificating". This quote supports my wonderings about the level of full attention achieved in such large groups.

So where to from here?

  1. Seek coaching and feedback from my peers
  2. Focus on bigger picture communication: how can I ensure that I am opening communication channels up to the staff and the community.
  3. Some of our families obviously need ongoing education re our vision and values: what might this look like?
  4. Drop the jargon... build it collectively with the community. (Shotoverise our dialogue
  5. Start challenging as appropriate the start and end of days... 

18 March 2016

At the End of the Day, If I've Done This then I'm Doing My Job!

At the end of each day, if I've done this then I'm doing my job!

Schools can be a very busy place and days can become quickly filled with the unexpected. We can sometimes find ourselves leaving at the end of the day with the job list only longer and a sense that we have not achieved what we set out to achieve. 

The one sentence job description has become a bit of a game changer for me. It is the tool I use as I walk out to the carpark to check that I have in fact done my job that day. It should be what I have achieved in a nut shell each day. 

It works for me because if you ask me what I do each day, I can answer straight away and quite concisely. It is cognitively portable and because I share it with the people I am working with, it has become expected of me. 

The OSJD helps me to be clear about what I am trying to achieve hour by hour, day by day even when it the unexpected is happening around me.  

I know what I am doing, why I am doing it and how I can contribute. Knowing this helps me to stay right on track and not lose what is important. 

8 March 2016

Learning to Lead #2

'It takes guts to do what a leader does, to make decisions and lead with values. 

So what values drive me to become comfortable with the uncomfortable? ...to raise the heat on myself and others?'

At the heart of what I do each day is "well-being". This includes ensuring that the  whole team's well-being is being looked after and that we are collectively providing a culture of well-being in the school. By this I mean that everyone needs to feel safe, respected, supported and that we have developed an environment focussed on learning that is supported by everyone's preparedness to become risk taking learners. 

This is the culture that underpins school interactions and helps the staff, the children and their whanau to feel valued, safe and able to achieve.

Interactions (interventions, strategies, activities, relationships, planning and practices) need to be underpinned by the school’s culture and values. All staff need to be committed to the well-being of everyone on our site and visitors to the school should see our values in action within both the learning and social contexts.

Positive relationships and school values are evident in the school’s:
- curriculum and operations
- leadership, resourcing and decision making - curriculum priorities and delivery
- pastoral care processes and systems
- interpersonal relationships and celebrations - professional learning programmes.
Leaders as Role Modellers
Leaders are role models in their commitment to well-being and establish clear goals and expectations that ensure supportive environments for students. Mentors are well supported by the Senior Leadership Team and Team leaders in their social skill development work with children.
Partnerships are key

Leaders and mentors work in partnership with each other, the children, parents, whanau, community and external agencies to promote student well-being. Students contribute to the review of school tone and well-being. Mentors collaborate to enhance student and staff wellbeing, through seeking and sharing knowledge of what works for all individuals.

1 March 2016

Learning to Lead

Fred Koffman suggests that leaders are not respected for their success but instead for their "behaviours" in other words the walk they walk. 

This week, I had a go at defining what I value as a leader. I realised that most of these were actually behaviours. Some that I think I do reasonably well and some that are not "cognitively portable"... yet.  There's a bit of a theme emerging for me. The leadership capability survey reminded me that I need to be continually aware of my responses and energy particularly when under a bit of pressure.
And then thinking about which behaviours I walk the talk with and which ones I don't gives me a clear picture of what I need to be mindful of. I am beginning to identify behaviours that may in fact put my credibility as a leader at risk. I won't unpack or give explanations as to why I am not available, inspiring, calm or structured here. I am simply learning to lead and the reality of life, family and new school stuff have meant that I have dropped a ball or two... 

This is very much a work in progress as I read, ponder and make connections to the variety of models in this module, and my own experiences.  More time unpacking and defining my values and "Shotoverising" the behaviours that accompany these will help me learn to lead effectively and grow others' capacities.