If you are a newly appointed leader here are a six tips to help you wrestle the invisible beast:
- Spend time listening, seeking to understand the prevailing culture, “the way things are done around here”.
- Be a questionable person. Identify the things you don’t agree with in the culture and have the courage to lead a life that is in opposition to those things.
- Identify the crusaders, the nay-sayers and the influencers.
- Take care not to get sucked into the prevailing culture, it is very powerful and you will be subsumed into it if you don’t have the courage, or strength to resist.
- Develop strategies to change those aspects of the culture you don’t agree with, strategies to develop new norms.
- Once a new strategy or norm is established, commit.
Really interesting comments about 1:1. For me, if it is not being done right or with intent, then it is worth questioning it. Also, left thinking about PLN and the way in which it changes and morphs over time. I too have gone off Twitter a little bit. Still happy to engage, just with more purpose I guess.
Something that I was left wondering about after listening was the role of the survey. I know that we can ask questions and do quizzes (something that has come up with Gonski 2.0), but I was really intrigued by Donna Lanclos’ argument against all this.
In a recent presentation, she put out the call:
Please, let’s not profile people.
When you are asking your students and staff questions, perhaps it should not be in a survey. When you are trying to figure out how to help people, why not assume that the resources you provide should be seen as available to all, not just the ones with “identifiable need?
As much as it is easy, lean, agile, what is the cost of this efficiency and quick feedback?
It takes a while to develop a system for organizing posts, but it’s really worth doing from the start, or right now. I assure you, if you keep blogging, having a system for organizing your past ideas will help you as you pile on many posts– I rely more on tags and categories to find things than search.
What I would like to see in this process is a way to connect the dots from the beginning to the end of the manuscript. Something open that allows the author to detail the path taken from the genesis of the piece to the end result. This would allow scholars to post grant funding statements, researcher notes, open data, revisions, and other materials and connect this to the overall result. Viewers of the final published version would be able to look back through the links and chain of documentation to see the work that was embedded in this resultant piece.
This is far from just a story about a haircut. It's also a story of the inevitable tension between powerful school councils and the communities they serve. Should a school pursue a change agenda it thinks will benefit the community of tomorrow if the community of today – and yesterday – isn't happy about it? To what extent should today's students and parents dictate the direction in which a school heads?
It's also a story about the ongoing struggle at schools everywhere between pursuing academic success and the health and happiness of their charges. And finally, it's about people power, 21st-century style: how a group of children and their parents used a combination of traditional and social media to force those at the top of their institution to listen. Shocked to find that, despite paying up to $32,000 per student in annual fees, they had no power over the decisions of the council and principal, the school community went rogue, enlisting the power of the media to assert their claim – and win.
Spearheaded by year 12 leaders, the campaign is feverishly adopted by students across the senior school. Adept with technology, the kids set up an online petition, which quickly gathered more than 6000 signatures, and an Instagram account with even more followers and its own hashtag, #bringbrownieback. A co-author of this piece, Henrietta Cook, has the electronic invites to her wedding hacked and a message added for some of her guests: “Evict … the school council and principal.” Choppers hover over the school as TV journalists stake out spots at the entrance for their live crosses.
Bruce Dixon adds his own commentary on this, especially in regards to power and agency.
The Trinity case offers an insight into the current state of education, with a balance between wellbeing and academic results, as well as private verses public:
Striking the right balance between students’ wellbeing and academic results is something every school worries about. Dr Mark Merry, the head of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia and also the principal of Yarra Valley Grammar, says the rise of performance data, including NAPLAN and ATAR league tables, has made schools more publicly accountable than ever before. Choosing between a focus on intellect and identity is fraught with tension. “Are you getting the balance right? Everyone agonises over this,” Merry says. “You can’t hold your hand on your heart and say you got it right all the time.”
It is also a story of old boys and old power holding onto the past (and their blazers):
Parents might not rank alumni as a top priority, but the old boys’ network – which runs events, helps with fundraising and has a network of sporting teams – plays an important role in the lives of many former students, including Thomas Hudson. The 29-year-old corporate banker with curly red hair feels deeply about his old school. “I care about Trinity because I want others to have the same experience that I did,” he explains. Hudson was among dozens of former students who squeezed into their school blazers for a community meeting at Hawthorn Town Hall. It was here that the old boys threatened legal action if the council didn’t resign.
Cook shares the extremes that people go to get people into these schools:
Parents at similar schools around the country have been known to try enrolling their unborn children – using the day of their scheduled C-section as the date of birth – only to be told that the child does in fact need to be physically born. Even the review of Brown’s dismissal had a top-end-of-town flavour. This was no little internal inquiry but an external investigation headed by a former Federal Court judge and a commercial barrister. Would public interest in such a spat be as high if it had unfolded at a state school in Melbourne’s outer north, or in Sydney’s far west?
Interestingly, the rush to ‘private’ is supposedly flat-lining.
We may not all be ultramarathon runners, (like myself ) but we need to remember that exercise and physical activity are a very important part of the equation when it comes to effective teaching and learning.