I‘ve been lucky enough to be accepted for a strategic leadership professional development course. It seems to be a good opportunity to get back to blogging, which I’ve been away from since I’ve been working, and have a regular space to reflect on what I’m learning and how it relates to my work.

One of the topics we spoke about in this session was performance management and professional development. It’s a really big topic and I’m not going to talk about it directly here, but about something it sparked. I like finding connections between different topics, it lets me explore them and see them from a different perspective. What I found interesting in this session was the emphasis on discussing and describing what makes an effective teacher.

That connected all the way back to when I was doing classroom management coaching – we used to get people to visualise good teachers they had had in school and describe what their classes were like. It also connects to what I’m doing right now in project planning. A really important step in scoping a project is to visualise and describe what teaching and learning will be like after a successful project. We do this because it helps us make decisions along the way – if I go with this solution, will it take me to where I need to be?

I think this is a deep connection – one that tells us about a similar process, rather than just a similar activity. These are all change processes where we are trying to change a system to a new state – all three of them are looking at evaluating, developing and maintaining new teaching practices.

So are there other areas where this technique would be useful?

  • Teaching itself is a change process, we are changing the students’ knowledge, understanding and skills.
  • The department has several reviews and reports in the pipeline, that will be changing the way remote and middle years schools work.
  • My work unit is being reorganised and has a change of staff.
  • I am developing myself as a leader through this course and professional learning in general.
  • It could be useful in managing up, to have a clear vision of what you are trying to achieve or to lead a team through the process to get buy in and build the change community.
  • Introducing technology in schools! It is so big and moving so fast that knowing what you are trying to achieve is essential to stop it being an expensive waste of unused devices.

I think it’s important to note that in all of these cases you are clarifying a vision of what, not how. How is about solutions – it shuts down creativity because you are already directing movement into a particular pathway, and it discourages you from critically examining that pathway. Describing what opens up the possibilities because there may be many ways of getting there, and you have a clear final destination to help you weigh the costs and benefits.

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