This afternoon we had another headteacher’s leadership session. Today’s topic was about developing leadership within our team. It is an interesting thing to begin thinking about. We looked at different models of leadership, from the more hierarchical to the more distributed leadership.
The paper that our group read, by John West-Burnham, discussed a subsidiarity model. This is where there is an interdependence between all members of the team. Therefore, it dispels the idea of having a top-heavy leadership team that then manages and leads all beneath it, but rather a team that shares the leadership responsibilities. In fact, the diagram of the model looked like a planet in the middle of about eight other revolving planets. This article then went on to discuss how a culture of learning needed to permeate the entire school. Through building trust, providing time for reflection and coaching, a school can begin developing its leadership capacity – or so John West-Burnham asserts.
Discussing this today, we agreed that this model could be effective and we thought about how we might be able to recreate such a model within our own schools. Talk turned to what leadership looks like and if everyone had leadership capabilities. At this point, after mostly listening to the discussions taking place, I chimed in with the fact that I actually believed everyone was a leader in some capacity or another. Teachers are ‘leaders of learning.’ They are leading the learning in their classrooms and modeling what they expect of their pupils. It was as if this was a new concept…..teachers as leaders. Of course this is what they are…..perhaps we as leaders need to raise our expectations and make it more explicit that we believe our teachers to be leaders and perhaps in turn they will begin demonstrating these qualities more overtly. Making people feel as if they have ‘leadership capabilities’ could promote them to act accordingly. Like my husband says, “If you treat a person with trust and respect, they will, in most cases, inevitably end up being a highly trusted and respected member of the team.”
Our conversation then turned to how we promoted learning within our schools. I explained that I had set up a model where teachers share a piece of research/good practice, etc, every two weeks during our staff meetings. Therefore, teachers are expected to undertake their own professional development by ‘seeking’ out something to share amongst their colleagues. Therefore, they are being asked, very simply, to lead learning in our team.
So, yes, all teachers are leaders and they should be treated as such….
See what happens when all teachers begin believing they really are ‘leaders of learning’ as well……