Developing and Fostering Leadership in Others

Personal Reflection:

21st Century Learning Organizations

For the past 5 years, I have been cultivating leadership at Springbank High.  When I say, “we” I actually mean it.  Through our consultation/education/data gathering cycle (See Data link on menu bar), we have created a culture of leadership at Springbank High.  I rarely make decisions in isolation.  I have many voices that contribute to any decision that is made at this school.  The education/consultation (see societal context tab on this blog) cycle gives many people an opportunity to speak up.

Student Leadership

Student Leadership at Springbank has expanded greatly in the past 5 years.  5 years ago, the notion of a School Council President was still imbedded in this school.  Through hard work and changing the nature of the definition of leadership, we now have a cohort of 48 self selected students just in leadership.  There are an equal number in the various One Village groups.  They provide their passion to areas of interest and are consulted on various changes to the school.  In fact, in many cases, they have been the architects of many of the changes in the school.  We gather as much data as we can from students.  Through the yearly surveys; Tell Them From Me, Rocky View Schools Survey, and the Accountability Pillar Survey, we get a sense of what students are saying.  Even more importantly, we are asking students about their perceptions of learning throughout the learning cycle through the Student Engagement Feedback Form.  Through these surveys and facilitated discussions, student voice is loud and clear.

Staff Leadership

Through various avenues open to all staff, we have created opportunities for leadership and voice.  We have changed our staff model to one of a hub of thought. Various media is employed mainly through Moodle and Mahara.  We are creating not stagnating.  We are taking the necessary steps to become more motivation 3.0 driven.  Without changing the way we think about people and motivation, we will fail to move forward.  For more information, read Daniel Pink, “Drive”.  Teaching is a profoundly creative endeavour.  We must try an new approach to foster that creativity. We must build structures around the change from simple systems to more complex.  A Whole New Mind provides an opportunity to change the way we think about existing systems and how we can change it.

We must move away from rules as to how we as professionals go about our professional lives.  This year, we implemented a new Professional Handbook.  Web-based, it contains information relevant to teaching professionals in the 21st century.  Within that Handbook, there exists a staff generated Principles-Based philosophy.  Check out the website SCHS:  21C Teaching and Learning.  Principles-Based philosophy is under the tab entitled, Mission, Key Learning Principles, Personalized Learning and Communication.

The Alberta Flexibility Project. has been a catalyst for change. Through this, we have formally had our 25 hours relaxed and instituted flexible time.  (i.e. blended courses, project-based learning, Learning Exhibitions, redefining j-blocks, re-defining what instructional time looks like, hybrid concepts), advisory, electronic student portfolios, flexibility of space (learning commons and flex space for 21st century learners).  The Backwards design with respect to next year’s course offerings is available to look at Flexible Opportunities.

Parent Leadership

Perhaps the most profound and important thing you can do for your parent community is have them set goals.  It provides direction for them.  Our School council has been setting goals and asking, “what is my role and how can I assist the school in reaching its goals”?  They have been instrumental in thinking about how to reach the larger parent group.  Through surveys and assisting with facilitated discussions, we have more support now than we ever have.

This year, with collaboration from the School Trustee, we are focusing our School Council in the notion of advocacy and learning.  Examples of guest speakers:  Bruce McAllister, our Provincial MLA, Tatiana Reynolds presented and Parents as Career Counselors, and Gerry Fijal presented The Changing Nature of High Schooling:  Alberta Flexibility Project.  I co-presented “Generative Governance” with our Trustee, Helen Clease.  Before we presented, we met to talk about how we could present the concept to parents, have a conversation and get feedback from the group.  You can view the Powerpoint: Generative Governance Presentation to School Council.  We received excellent feedback from the conversation.  The overwhelming message was this:  If you want parents to participate, you have to make it relevant to them and their child.  Otherwise, parents will be passive.

In conclusion, it in the systems and processes you put into place that assists in the natural and necessary fostering of leadership.

What’s Next?

Here’s where we want to go:

  • Continue with blended learning as a way of teaching across the school
  • Continue with project/problem-based learning as a cornerstone to how we operate
  • Continue growing the advisory program
  • Offering courses (synchronous and asynchronous)
  • Whole school Learning Exhibitions as a 21st century way of communicating to parents
  • More imbedded PL into the school day
  • Focus on expanding 21st century spaces
  • Expand the use of the E-Portfolio
  • Seriously look at assessment practices across the curriculums
  • More connectivity to Alberta Flex Project schools, administrators and teachers
  • Sharing our knowledge and experience with the larger societal context.
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