Friday, 27 November 2009

Leadership Pathways: Revisiting Community

The second online unit I completed for this course was Revisiting Community. I found this rather a odd title for the unit. I mean, I hadn't actually 'visited' the commuity yet on the course. Ah well.

Overall I much preferred this unit to the last one as I found it contained practical advice and strategies for developing as a leader making clear references to the standards for headship.

The unit begins with a rather deep notion - that the school and its head should be entirely accountable to the community. Blimey; is this unit really going to suggest that the school should be accountable to the local community as well as being accountable to its pupils, parents, governors, LA and DCSF? The thinkpiece article even goes as far as to suggest that the community owns the school. Luckily I realise that this is very theoretical and is not being promoted as fact. I strongly agreed with the idea that the school should be a hub for the community. Hmm... could this be a possibility for my change project?

There was an exemplar of a brilliant ICT project from a school that refurbished and redistributed computer equipment to its parents to enable home learning.

Later in the unit I considered the ways that our school informs, consults with, involves, collaborates with and empowers the community. I realised that we are very good at informing, involving and collaborating with the community. Perhaps my change project could look into ways that we consult and empower the community.

After completing this unit I finally feel like I'm making some headway in selecting the change project which I must begin in order to complete the course. I want my project to be about involving the community, and I could use some of the learning conversation skills that I learned in the previous unit.

So after nearly 9 hours of online work I've completed 2 online units. Only three more to go!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Leadership Pathways: Leading Through Influence

The first online unit I completed in the course was Leading Through Influence. I wish I'd began with a different unit as this one wasn't exactly inspiring. But it did include some good practical advice.

The first part of the unit looked at learning conversations and made you think about how to get the most out of a conversation so that a conclusion is reached and each party can be satisfied.

Next I looked at communication and the way that communication should always be two-way. This was hardly groundbreaking stuff.

The next part was a bit more interesting. It was about psychological contracts. "What on earth are they?" I hear you ask! Well these are unwritten agreements that a member of staff has with the school. This might include leading an after school club, for example. The unit explored the effects of breaking psychological contracts on staff morale. It made me realise that we need to be aware of the psychological contracts in school so that I am aware of the efforts from every member of staff. At the same time I wouldn't want to turn them into written or spoken about contracts. When wanting to make changes I must consider the mutual trust between school and its staff.

I learned that staff meetings should begin with a 'checking in' where staff share ideas and thoughts from the week. They should end with 'checking out' where the main points of the meeting are reviewed.

There were different 'frames' suggested for conversations which could apply to different situations. Workshops are used when the conversation group comes together to share resources and create new ideas and solutions. Consultations are used when the group comes together to share knowledge about the focus and receive feedback. A forum is used to problem solve and debate and challenge. Hotseating is used when a member of the group needs to share their personal learning journey and so the group learns by asking questions.

The process of stakeholder analysis was a brilliant concept. When introducing change it makes sense to prioritise the stakeholders. You consider each person for their power and influence and for their interest in the change. You then decide where best to channel your efforts.
Overall I gained some good ideas about how to organise staff meetings and departmental meetings etc.
Diagram from 'Stakeholder Analysis and Management: Winning support for your projects' by R Manktelow.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Leadership Pathways

Over the last few months one of the things I have been busy with is this interesting course from the NCSL.

The course involves several processes through which you make changes and improvements to your leadership skills.

It began with a questionnaire which needed 10 people to complete some really awkward questions about you and the way you work. I also had to answer the questions about myself. The results were then amalgamated and I received a printout showing the average results with a comparison of my own answers. This all revealled that I actually had quite a good understanding of what people thought of my skills. It also highlighted areas that I could develop as a leader.

The areas were then used to help me choose online units and skills workshops which will help me to improve skills.

I am midway through the whole process now, so it's time I recorded some of my thoughts. Over the next few weeks I'll try to post these.