Leadership

The Principal As A Change Agent

Perry Rush
March 31, 2022
Leadership

The Principal As A Change Agent

Perry Rush
Perry Rush
March 31, 2022

This is highlighted by Educationalist Michael Fullan who references research that identified 6 practices in schools that had significantly influenced student achievement:

  • Measuring and monitoring information, targets, and results
  • A hunger for improvement and capacity to have brave conversations
  • Raising capability – helping people learn
  • A focus on every child experiencing success
  • Promoting the most successful approaches – pushing boundaries
  • Making sacrifices to put pupils first

Schools that made poor gains for their students had these 6 practices in common:

  • Measuring and monitoring targets and test results
  • Cultures where warmth, humour, and repartee dominate to the exclusion of professional challenge
  • Recognising personal circumstances where it leads to the celebration of effort alone
  • Keeping up with initiatives-doing what is required
  • Maintaining a pleasant and collegial working environment
  • Working together – learning from each other – a closed community of practice

Fullan comments, “Successful schools had a much more demanding culture, while the less successful schools had less of a press on improvement and were more forgiving if results were not forthcoming.”

I find this research interesting, particularly in our New Zealand context. Every principal is part of a community invested in their local curriculum and the pro-social relationships built around positive shared values.

Schools often identify values that embody notions of respect, collaboration, and community. These values encourage teachers to accept differences – to let people be who they are.

Make no mistake, these values are important but not exclusively so if they are not joined to rigorous professional dialogue.

Many of us in education chose to teach because it is an enterprise that nurtures humans. This desire to care for and grow young people can frequently be the motivation to create happy and embracing school communities.

Principals must create school cultures that have dissonance – a positive pressure that keeps a teaching team focused on assessing and evaluating their work and ways to improve, and then the follow-through to ensure change is occurring.

In the busy life of a school, the complexity of the challenge can often swallow up dissonance. The activity of learning can look purposeful. But is it meaningful and does it enable every young person to make the necessary improvements in achievement?

It is the job of the principal to link job satisfaction to a restlessness to do better.

There is an urgency to this work.

This past week, the leadership team at Tui Tuia has been working in a Kāhui Ako assisting them to deepen their understanding of their competency-based curriculum. Drilling down on the language of learning in their competency rubrics will help to create the clarity necessary so that teaching and learning across the Kāhui Ako can be coherent and closely aligned with their educational goals. This is an act of dissonance. I congratulate the principals and across school leads for being determined to build clarity to enable challenging conversations to occur.

Great principals, create the dissonance in their schools that keep teachers focused on the professional dialogue to call out poor student achievement and fire up the sort of teaching that does something about it!

Perry Rush
Perry leads stakeholder engagement, to ensure Tui Tuia understands the needs and priorities of our key stakeholder groups and how we might support them around their professional development endeavours.
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The Principal As A Change Agent

This is highlighted by Educationalist Michael Fullan who references research that identified 6 practices in schools that had significantly influenced student achievement:

  • Measuring and monitoring information, targets, and results
  • A hunger for improvement and capacity to have brave conversations
  • Raising capability – helping people learn
  • A focus on every child experiencing success
  • Promoting the most successful approaches – pushing boundaries
  • Making sacrifices to put pupils first

Schools that made poor gains for their students had these 6 practices in common:

  • Measuring and monitoring targets and test results
  • Cultures where warmth, humour, and repartee dominate to the exclusion of professional challenge
  • Recognising personal circumstances where it leads to the celebration of effort alone
  • Keeping up with initiatives-doing what is required
  • Maintaining a pleasant and collegial working environment
  • Working together – learning from each other – a closed community of practice

Fullan comments, “Successful schools had a much more demanding culture, while the less successful schools had less of a press on improvement and were more forgiving if results were not forthcoming.”

I find this research interesting, particularly in our New Zealand context. Every principal is part of a community invested in their local curriculum and the pro-social relationships built around positive shared values.

Schools often identify values that embody notions of respect, collaboration, and community. These values encourage teachers to accept differences – to let people be who they are.

Make no mistake, these values are important but not exclusively so if they are not joined to rigorous professional dialogue.

Many of us in education chose to teach because it is an enterprise that nurtures humans. This desire to care for and grow young people can frequently be the motivation to create happy and embracing school communities.

Principals must create school cultures that have dissonance – a positive pressure that keeps a teaching team focused on assessing and evaluating their work and ways to improve, and then the follow-through to ensure change is occurring.

In the busy life of a school, the complexity of the challenge can often swallow up dissonance. The activity of learning can look purposeful. But is it meaningful and does it enable every young person to make the necessary improvements in achievement?

It is the job of the principal to link job satisfaction to a restlessness to do better.

There is an urgency to this work.

This past week, the leadership team at Tui Tuia has been working in a Kāhui Ako assisting them to deepen their understanding of their competency-based curriculum. Drilling down on the language of learning in their competency rubrics will help to create the clarity necessary so that teaching and learning across the Kāhui Ako can be coherent and closely aligned with their educational goals. This is an act of dissonance. I congratulate the principals and across school leads for being determined to build clarity to enable challenging conversations to occur.

Great principals, create the dissonance in their schools that keep teachers focused on the professional dialogue to call out poor student achievement and fire up the sort of teaching that does something about it!