A set of book reviews isn’t the most enticing way to increase your blog hits. But then this genuinely isn’t why I write them. I write for these reasons:
- I want the people with whom I work to “know where I’m coming from.” This will hopefully ease any potential anxiety about what I may or may not be trying to do with them;
- The act clarifies my thinking. The idea that someone else might read your words makes you think very carefully about what you say and potentially how you will defend or potentially modify your views;
- It’s transparent professional development;
- I enjoy it.
If I can help others structure their thoughts about their contexts – great.
Earlier in my career the decisions made about the schools in which I worked were handed down and accepted as utterances from higher beings. I didn’t have time or the wherewithal to engage with or understand the wider political and local pressures influencing decisions. And we weren’t encouraged to consider them. Luckily access to ideas is much more straightforward now – one of the most liberating aspects of social media.
As an educational leader, I think it’s important that everyone working in an organisation has access to the ideas informing decisions and does their best to read them. In fact, colleagues should engage in their school’s unique position – whatever their role. It’s important we all try and understand the drivers.
Obviously, there will always be elements of leadership that can’t be made public; they’re either confidential or market-sensitive. But informed opinion is crucial for educational communities.
The current challenge to secure accurate compliance with curriculum change (and recognising all the attendant fears of getting that wrong – see below)
The Telegraph (@Telegraph) April 12, 2015
– has taken a disproportionate amount of energy away from developing practice, reading widely, engaging with the new and sharing opinions.
Which is why professional development reviews (PDRs) should be as easy to manage as possible. They should increase opportunities for engagement and sharing. Web-based systems can enable real-time conversations and annual tick-box, paper-based reviews can become a waste of time of the past.
If PDRs can be freed from the potential pitfalls of performance pay – all the better. Colleagues engaging enthusiastically, risk free, and developing their practice within a transparent system can:
- Improve student outcomes and find more effective ways of working;
- Align activity with school development goals;
- Increase professional growth;
- Enhance professional satisfaction;
- Receive formal recognition of professional achievements.
Annually two or three areas of focus with SMART actions can have an immediate positive effect on the work of an individual, a team and ultimately the students.
Talking with colleagues over the last couple of weeks, who have spoken so intelligently about their roles and their expectations, leads me to assert that there is a moral responsibility to share thinking and resources. It builds leadership capacity.
Acknowledging different approaches and learning from each other enriches the culture of any organisation. Debate (dialectic) is refreshing and a crucial step before rhetoric. I believe Twitter provides a unique platform to amplify such a culture.
What is needed is transparency without any form of viral replication…
(Photo credit @lizjonesLTM)