This term at St Luke’s, our professional learning was choice based-work through an inquiry in an area of interest or attend a series of workshops. I chose to attend, with a number of teachers in our school, and some middle leaders, the series on Leadership. We had three guest speakers who were all brilliant and went through their journey of leadership and some of the theories of leadership approaches.
While I loved hearing from each person and their journey and ideas, I was again inspired by Peter Hutton, who I have been lucky enough to spend some time with over the years. One of the things that I love about talking to Peter is that you always leave feeling a little uncomfortable and a little challenged to do better, while still being up and jumping in a “yes we can” Judd Nelson style fist pump.
One of the things that struck me was when he said something along the lines of “we don’t do that here” as being language that we want to develop in a school. Yes, the culture of the school is such an important thing and the development of the school “way of doing” and “way of being” is important. Developing that cohesive collective efficacy is important- consistency for students and for teachers is an essential thing to develop and align with your ideals. But, I’ve seen this pendulum swing to far in schools where “this is the way we do things here” are used aligned with a culture of fear to become “we just need to keep doing the same thing here” and “we can’t do anything else here”. The balance of running on this tightrope is difficult and good leadership balances the “this is our way of doing” with a “yes is the default” and “why don’t you try that here” approach.
These things can be difficult for new staff particularly who want flowcharts and timelines. But there’s also a great freedom, learning and fun within how far you can stretch the tightrope