Two of the districts in the Adelaide metro area put on a half day session of professional development today for aspiring leaders at the Glenelg Golf Club. I knew about this last week and I e-mailed the contact person to register my interest for this opportunity even though I had never heard of the keynote speaker, Patrick Duignan. I nearly didn’t go, either. I assumed that because I didn’t receive any reply, that I was too late for registration so I has headed off to my Kooyonga Cluster Coordinators meeting (these are twice a term) where Anne, the district office contact for our Cluster said to me, “What are you doing here, Graham?”
She then told me that she’d seen my name on the list of attendees and that the e-mail contact had been on leave, hence no registration confirmation. She also said that if I left straightaway, I could still get there on time for the presentation. Glenelg Golf Club is about 10 – 15 minutes drive from the district office, so off I headed via Tapleys Hill Road and was there by about 8.50 am. Luckily, nothing had started, Patrick Duignan was still being picked up from the nearby airport and I got to join a few fellow coordinators on a table overlooking the very inviting 18th hole there at the golf club. It was a very nice day outside too. Perfect autumn golf weather……..but I digress.
While we waited for the guest speaker, our district director, John Binks-Williams spoke for a short while making some good points in relation to the way recent applications for leadership crossing his path were being written. His point was that when you write an application, in the first page will tell if you are after the glory of leadership or achieving for others. His thoughts on leadership in schools were :- Build teams. Work with others. Value and influence others. Look for worth and value in others who you don’t naturally get along with. “Little things mean everything.”
By then Patrick Duignan had arrived. He got wired for sound and started his presentation. Below are my notes which I won’t change from their original format unless I want to digress and expand:
Recent focus on leadership was on the role of the principal > leading onto the Creation Of Culture (still principal’s role) > values and beliefs introduced in the 80′s > ethics and standards (authenticity) is a new phenomenon in education.
Leadership in education in the 90′s was modelled on business – downsizing etc.
Shift towards fostering learning, teachers are now being recognised as leaders.
Time, space, technology,people’s skills/competencies are key issues.
What is leadership all about?
Shift in leadership from competencies to capabilities.
Change is a big factor now.
Difference between Morals (right or wrong) and Ethics (right or a different right – point of view) – through relationships, simple equation. NO INFLUENCE = NO LEADERSHIP.
Education needs a mindset of being “up-to-date” – in Health sector, there is no room for anyone saying, “That’s not my thing.” It’s not acceptable for any educator to close the door on your practice – be prepared to work in teams but good leaders prepare people to “properly engage.”
Engagement drives student learning.
Research shows it is better to have a group of diverse people discussing and making decisions than 1 or 2 experts.
PROFESSIONAL DIALOGUE is really important. That’s why educational blogging is so good – asynchronous dialogue at times when it suits the educator.
Finally, Patrick talked at length about the fact that people are interested in leadership but not necessarily in its current hierarchial form, as a principal. Leadership will have to change and eveolve in much the same way that the concept of classrooms will be reshaped and reconfigured. He talked about the concept of “learning spaces” which is heavily influenced by technology and gave an example of a development by a company in Sydney called LandLease who are developing 10 x 30,000 home communities in Western Sydney where schools are being reconfigured into “learning communities”. The entire community is to be networked and businesses who want to be involved have to sign on to be part of that “learning community” (homeowners, too!). I started thinking about all of the ideas and concepts Alex Hayes has been exploring in mLearning as he spoke. It also made me think that Interactive Whiteboards could be an “old technology” mindset in this brave new world that is already here and will only spread around this country.
So, although Patrick Duignan was here to focus on leadership, his insights on change and the changing nature of schools was of most interest for me. It was worth the rush and the low fuel gauge on my Corolla survived to the nearest service station.