Leadership of Professional Learning: School Leaders
Maureen O’Rourke and Peter Burrows, 2010
School leaders have a critical meta-strategic practitioners in community so that students
role to play in shaping culture and ethos and as become learners capable of participating in, key enablers of effective professional learning contributing to and understanding their within schools. We use this term to include all contemporary world.
members of the formal leadership team of a
school. This is the team that works with and As for other leaders of professional learning, supports the principal to determine and lead school leaders can use the Locus of Power in
the direction of learning at multiple levels Learning to both locate the existing balance of within the school community and beyond. They practice and to shape the desired direction for ‘orchestrate’ they way learning occurs within future development.
the school community and provide the
necessary scaffolds and opportunities that
enable all learners (students, teachers, teacher
leaders, parents etc) to learn and work
together in community.
School leaders need to know how to build
leadership and learning capacity together with
deep understanding of what constitutes
effective professional learning and what kind of
learning matters most (for students and
teachers). They are responsible for shaping the
climate and culture of their schools through
enactment of their values, the stance they bring
to their work and the way they allocate time In the context of school leadership of and resources. The three areas of knowledge professional learning, developing the and professional practice we have identified as professional knowledge and know-how of worthy of priority attention to more teaching staff is always a priority, as research consistently amplify strong leadership of has clearly linked this to impacts on student learning were: learners.
1. Culture and ethos shaping School leaders cannot do this alone. Their
broad challenge is how to build internal 2. Meta-strategic approaches and learning
capacity for leading and learning, so that a infrastructure
school community is capable of addressing the
3. Enabling leading for learning needs of diverse learners in a contemporary
world. School leaders face the added challenge Together these three areas of knowledge and of leading in contexts where what constitutes practice constitute a holistic, meta-strategic ‘valued learning’ is a continually shifting and approach to leadership for learning that is changing landscape as new technologies primarily focused on building the capacity of reshape the face of literacy, new learning the school to be the best it can. The intention is research emerges and political priorities affect to create the conditions in which teachers public perceptions of school effectiveness. become sophisticated and knowledgeable
The granting of ‘agency’ to other leaders within their school is very much influenced by the
mindsets and values school leaders bring to one noting that their role was ‘extremely
their work, together with their beliefs about important for impact on our students’ learning
what it means to lead in community. Affording and our teams ability to teach and structure others greater agency so that they increase learning suitable for our students’. Another
their levels of self-determination, choice and noted: ‘Professional learning needs to be decision-making also means sharing power. For targeted to student and teacher learning needs some school leaders this has been most and aligned with school, network, regional and rewarding and enabled them to enact change system goals’. Whilst it is reasonable to argue beyond their initial vision. For others, the that student learning was in the back of many affording of greater agency to colleagues was other respondents minds, is that where we something they were working towards as they want it to be?
established ways to build capacity and
1. Culture and ethos shaping professional knowledge and know-how. They
recognized that there could be no productive 1.1 Identifying what is important to learn, and agency without commensurate balance in how best to learn relation to these other elements.
How do learners learn around here? This crucial Schools are better able to serve their diverse question is one for the attention of school learners when they establish negotiated leaders as they consider how learners at all internal accountabilities, strengthen their levels (students, teachers, teacher leaders and internal capacity to lead professional learning parents) are provided with opportunities to and create the conditions for teachers to learn in community in light of contemporary expand their knowledge and know-how. This goals for education. School leaders co-create provides the basis for increasing the levels of and communicate a compelling moral purpose agency that can be afforded to teachers as and vision for learners which is enacted through respected professionals who are equipped to their professional stance and way of being in work out what is best for student learners. community (Hargreaves, 2009; Kaser & Halbert, Balancing attention to all four interdependent 2009). Values are also enacted every day in elements and working out local needs and relationship with others and by what school readiness in light of the associated continuums leaders choose to attend to – and reflect the assists school leaders to identify the broader symbolic dimension of leadership (DEECD, direction of future practice as well as 2007). Shaping culture and ethos means that immediate next steps. there must be razor-sharp alignment between
what school leaders say is important and what When 63 school leaders were prompted to they show is important through their everyday consider their role - ‘Over the past couple of actions. Changes wrought in culture and ethos years, I've come to see my role in leading are ‘sticky’ and sustainable (Fullan, 2003; professional learning as.... ‘ the responses Gladwell, 2000). ranged between taking a practical to a more
strategic view of the role. James is principal of a large suburban
secondary college. Although students in his The most common responses to this prompt school perform well on external measures, were framed around personally facilitating or he was concerned by internal data that providing professional learning (23), setting a indicated they were not as engaged or vision, focus or direction (15), planning and challenged as they could be. Also, during his organizing professional learning (7), facilitating visits to classrooms, he noticed that or being a member of a team with collective students were often passive in the learning responsibility (8), and coaching or mentoring dynamic. He wanted to see more active others (6). pedagogies in everyday practice Only five respondents mentioned students or James decided to create a learning circle student learning, directly or in passing. Just two with his three assistant principals and people made an unambiguous link between invited an external learning partner to join professional learning and student learning – the group. James believed that if he was to
ask teachers to become active learners and developing the capacity of teacher leaders inquirers into their practice, then the to lead discussions about designing leadership team needed to model this. The curriculum for deep thinking and team commenced their work together by understanding and the implications for identifying areas of interest that they pedagogy and assessment. And a final wanted to learn more about. Their initial strategy attended to the organisational questions were mainly new forms of challenges of timetabling and resources that professional learning for the school, such as enabled staff to learn in these new ways. peer coaching, collegiate observation,
Crowther et al’s research (2009) identified Lesson Study and amplifying the work of ‘envisioning inspiring futures – by enacting moral one team in the school where data indicated courage, intellectual ingenuity and well-significant increases in student engagement developed collaborative capabilities’ (p. 75) as a and achievement. key ‘metastrategic function’ of the principal
which shapes culture and ethos. Similarly, Following several inquiry sessions with their
research with high performing principals who external learning partner and some
successfully transformed their schools (Kaser & additional ‘taking stock’ in light of their
Halbert, 2009) identified a leadership mindset initial inquiry questions, the leadership team
characterised by ‘intense moral purpose’ as a identified a sharper focus for their learning.
disposition enacted by these principals. While they saw peer coaching and classroom
observation as a methodology to assist them
We asked Victorian professional learning to achieve their vision, what they really
leaders about the extent to which school wanted to see were students being provided
leaders had defined high aspirations, with opportunities for high order thinking, a
expectations and priorities for student learning teaching focus on the development of meta-
and linked these to the professional learning cognition and increased rigor in the work
goals and content of teacher learning: students were being asked to do. They also
wanted to see the higher levels of
engagement, autonomy and self-directed
learning from their Year 9 program
amplified across all year levels.
The team also identified the development of
a shared view of effective practice across the
staff as an area needing early attention.
They saw a need to broaden teaching
repertoires and develop both content and
process knowledge in relation to effective
teaching. When they walked into classrooms,
they wanted to see ‘teaching for
understanding’ and they also wanted to see
this reflected in the form and quality of
exams and tests that students were asked to Less than 50% of respondents reported that this do. was present to a high extent in their context,
yet this is a key factor in relation to the The team came up with four broad
effectiveness of professional learning (DE&T, strategies to work towards their vision. One
2006; Timperley et al, 2007; Crowther et al, strategy was to work with the overall school
2009). When we asked school leaders directly leadership team to develop a shared
about their student learning focus for understanding of ‘effective practice’. A
professional learning, they would often second strategy was introducing the use of
respond with a teaching focus or a strategy to ‘Learning Walks’ as a way to open classroom
explore. Understanding how to anchor doors and better understand teaching and
professional learning with a focus on learning. A third strategy focused on
compelling and aspirational student learning is we defined such conditions as providing an essential area of knowledge and know-how opportunities for teachers to uncover their for school leaders. beliefs and theories about learning and rethink
these in light of recent research and their own An example of how one team of Victorian analysis of the impact of their teaching on school leaders reshaped their school wide student learning. literacy focus into more compelling, inclusive and aspirational priorities (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009; Crowther et al, 2009) is provided in
Appendix 1. This might serve as a provocation for a local reflection on the way priorities are articulated in individual school communities. Culture and ethos are shaped by the vision,
values, stance and everyday professional
practices of school leaders. School leaders in high performing, turn around schools are
motivated by ‘intense moral purpose’ that
directs the attention of the whole school
community to valued and important outcomes
for students (Kaser & Halbert, 2009; Fullan, A stronger trend was revealed when we 2006). This anchors a culture of inquiry for focused just on the provision of opportunities deep learning. to examine evidence of the impact on teaching.
1.2 A culture of inquiry for deep learning and Most schools reported this was occurring to a
making connections moderate or high extent. However, 15% of
schools reported this as low. Crowther et al (2009) found that school leaders played a crucial role in culture building and creating a culture of ‘no blame - in which
processes, not people are scrutinized when
things go wrong’ (p. 87). They point out the
wherever school communities journey into the
unknown, mistakes will be made and problems
created unknowingly. When viewed as
opportunities, problem solving becomes a
collective challenge where ‘underlying
institutional barriers are exposed, thereby
heightening the level and authenticity of
professional dialogue’ (p. 87).
In the Victorian context, there are still While the research is clear that creating this challenges to creating this kind of culture in kind of culture will contribute to sustainable every school. Booklet 2: Transforming the way school improvement and revitalisation teachers learn, provides a more indepth analysis (Crowther et al, 2009), many school leaders are of the trends and stages of development of struggling to allocate enough resources to such cultures as identified in the research enable this to occur. However, some have period. We also identify a range of other worked steadily within their means to gradually enabling and blocking factors beyond a culture shape such an inquiry oriented culture. of inquiry.
In the following vignette, Diana shares how she When we asked professional learning leaders in and other members of the leadership team in schools to identify the extent that conditions her school embarked on the challenging task of for deep learning and inquiry had been created, shifting a school culture towards evidence they reported trends were mainly to a informed inquiry and learning together in moderate to small extent. To assist participants, community:
Case Story: Developing a Culture of Inquiry in a Secondary School
Diana is now principal of her school, after three years in the role of Assistant Principal. She reflected that the principal team had been grapping with the difficulties associated with moving
teacher practices because they were considered to be a very successful school. While the
majority of staff equated successful teaching practices with strong VCE outcomes, data since
2003 indicated that the school was not performing as well as it might. Attitudes to schooling
data indicated that students were ‘basically disengaged and unmotivated in Years 8 and 9’.
Diana observed that this ‘came like a blow to the heart to some teachers’ and that some people
disputed the data. In retrospect, she felt that it may have been a mistake to put problematic data in front of the staff before there were adequate levels of trust and a shared understanding of what was important. As a result, the leadership team found themselves in the position of
‘acting on the data…when the teachers didn’t believe it’.
Diana reflected that evidence from a new Year 9 program helped them to see almost immediate ‘wins’.
‘Our attitudes to schooling and MYRAD data spiked. So we had to ask what are these results
due to – what is happening in the Year 9 Program that is not happening the mainstream
curriculum? We started to look at what other practices we needed to audit or stimulate or debate about, and that’s when we started to look at our school wide pedagogies.
Diana noted that the use of shared professional readings was one of the ways that they stimulated debate and raised awareness about change and new directions. Sometimes this led discussions into ‘uncomfortable’ territory:
‘The way we structured it was to have syndicate groups and each principal team member led a syndicate. One of the chapters I led (from ‘Turnaround Leadership’ by Michael Fullan) was
about bringing people to a shared vision and there was quite an uncomfortable argument. I
was actually asking our teacher leaders to consider that we needed to change practice – and
one of the teacher leaders at the time said, ‘You can’t make the teachers work any harder’. It
was really uncomfortable. So we tried to steer the conversation around to ‘It’s not about
working more, it’s about working smarter and to a vision - to an agreed set of pedagogies’.
The Principal Team conducted a leadership retreat that involved all members of the leadership team – principal class and teacher leaders – spending two days together away from the school.
The focus of the retreat was developing an understanding of effective practice based upon
“what have we read, what have we seen or what we have heard.’
Diana described a number of ways that the leadership team investigated this focus and prepared for their retreat. They read a number of articles and frameworks including ‘Teachers
make a difference’ by John Hattie and followed this with focus groups that structured
discussion using the Final Word protocol.
Two of the Assistant Principals ran student focus groups, which they audio-taped so that the
group could consider student voice.
‘We asked the kids to tell us about your best teacher, not your favourite. What do they do,
what do you like best about teacher practice in the classroom. So some things were as
simple as: ‘I’d just like them to know my name and be friendly’. Others were about being
clearer about the learning: ‘They tell us what we are going to do at the start of the lesson
and how it will link to the next one,’ while one Year 8 girl said: ‘When I don’t understand
something in Maths, they explain it in a different way and if we still don’t get it they find
another way’. That was really deep and that set of tapes was so powerful’.
In preparation for the retreat, Diana had also conducted a search and came up with a range of
DVDs from which she played snippets of practice to the group e.g. ‘Dead Poets Society’, ‘In the
Corridor’, Mr Holland’s Opus’ and ‘The Emperor’s Club’. During the Leadership retreat, the
group considered all of these resources, readings and evidence and together came up with a construction of an effective teacher by writing and sorting their findings on sticky notes:
‘It not only combined our thoughts about effective practice but it gave us the focus - what
are we looking for – and that’s exactly what e5 is about and the Learning Walks. What is
the practice we are looking for, what are teachers doing in their practice?
Over the course of the weekend, the leadership team also considered how they would work with the rest of the staff to provide them with the opportunity to also develop a construct of effective practice.
They decided to do almost exactly the same thing in a staff meeting. They talked about what
they had learned from the Hattie article, played the student tapes and some of the scenes in the
videos. Diana noted that the staff responded well to working this way.
‘Then it was a matter of ‘Well if we’ve identified the elements of effective practice that we
want to see and we’re continually analysing the attitudes to schooling data and getting the
student focus group responses, what does this mean for our everyday work?
Diana noted that this particular retreat had been more successful than the first as ‘people had
come to it more open-minded’. However, while she felt they were successfully developing a
culture of inquiry at the leadership level, there was still some way to go with the whole staff.
Teacher leaders returning from the retreat were asked questions such as whether they had been ‘brainwashed’ over the weekend, indicating there were still issues of relational trust that needed attention.
Changing the norms and ways of working through the layers of a large school community was challenging and difficult work, as can be seen by Diana’s reflection on the principal
team’s efforts to further de-privatize practice and open classroom doors using the strategy of ‘Learning Walks’:
After our first Learning Walk, the 3 people who put their hand up to participate with us got
savaged when they went back into their staff rooms. Although everyone, including the
walkers, were released from class to walk and to get feedback, there was a feeling of:
; ‘What are they making you do?’
; ‘Why would you want to do that?’
; ‘Back to the inspectorial’
; ‘Why would you allow them to do that?’
The Learning Walks became a tipping point…In the past, people invited whoever they wanted to come in for collegiate observations. But this time there was a structure around it and we were looking for particular things…The accountability was ramped up and that was
one of the benefits. We did lose some good teachers but they were not in tune with the vision and their issues were still around private practice and work load… ‘leave me alone’.
We don’t have that resistance any longer. Still, some people are not putting up their hands
but we think we have a critical mass in each major area of the school now.
It was quite a courageous journey, really.
Cultural change is difficult work for school example. The importance of the symbolic
leaders, often met with suspicion and dimension, with leaders actively engaged in
resistance. The human dimension of leadership, learning and inquiring with their staff, is also
particularly building relationships of trust and being strongly enacted. This is illustrated in the
respect, are clearly in play in the above next case story of Gina, a primary principal:
Case Story 2: Inquiry mindedness at every level in a primary school
Gina is a principal of a suburban primary school that serves a low socio-economic community where many families
are recent arrivals. Gina’s appointment three years ago was her first appointment as a principal. She arrived with a strong sense of the culture and ethos she wanted to establish at the school, with ideas to engage all members of
the school community, including recently arrived parent.
While the system data for her school is still of some concern, she is working hard to be a ‘Turnaround’ leader (Fullan, 2006) and already can show evidence of growth and strengthening in both student and teacher learning and practice.
Gina articulated a very strong ‘inquiry mindset’ and this was something she wanted to cultivate with teachers and students alike. She talked about ‘triple loop learning’ where leaders inquired into their practice, teachers inquired and students inquired. Each level of inquiry informed the work and decisions taken at different levels of leadership within the school.
Gina began fostering this shift to a culture of inquiry by building a teacher inquiry focus into every staff member’s performance review. This relationship, previously enacted with a more ‘managerial mindset’ took on a different form and feel as Gina positioned herself as an interested ‘co-inquirer’ and used these meetings as an opportunity
to both support and challenge her staff to identify implications for their practice as a result of considering evidence and insights together. These conversations also became a forum for her to identify the impact of her own
practice and to gauge the reach and depth of her intentions.
Conversations with teacher leaders, teachers and students in Gina’s school revealed that the inquiry mindset had indeed taken hold after three years. Teachers and students alike used the language of inquiry to describe their
learning. Students articulated a ‘meta-language’ that made their thinking visible and enabled teachers to make
better judgements as to the depth of understanding. Teacher and teacher leader inquiries became increasingly
sophisticated over time.
In 2009, the Year 5/6 team investigated the complex relationship between improving inferential thinking and
comprehension (a need identified by on-demand test data), multi-modal and multi-literate learning pathways (a
school-wide pedagogical focus) and deepening understanding in the area of Science – particularly Physics
(identified from a curriculum audit). Evidence analysed at the end of the year indicated that students had achieved standards related to Science that were above expected levels, their ‘performances of understanding’ met criteria
that were considered ‘sophisticated’ for this age group (McTighe & Wiggin, 2004) and that there had been significant improvement in the on-demand test data that was above expected growth in a six month period.
Teachers were able to explain their pedagogical practices and approach to inquiry and how they embedded explicit literacy teaching within this to equip students to learn. They enacted their literacy teaching practices in ways that were purposeful for students – assisting them to inquire into an area of curriculum in a way that
engaged and enthused – and that also assisted students to communicate the depth of their new learning and understanding. Teacher learning revealed that they had broadened and deepened their own conceptions of
literacy in light of the whole school focus on the ‘multi’ of ‘multiliteracies’ and found ways to link the foundational to the contemporary and higher order literacies.
Teachers’ incorporation of the use of digital technologies was also enacted with a view to pursuing deeper
understanding and communication about the disciplinary domains being studied. Like their students, they were able to articulate their intentions and the what and why of their teaching practice.
Gina believed that by supporting, encouraging and resourcing her teachers to undertake inquiry into their practice and its impact on student learning, she would strengthen the professionalism and capacity of her whole staff to better lead the learning of all students in the school. To enable this to occur, she invested heavily in her teacher
leaders, enabling many of them to attend year long professional learning programs to develop their leadership capacity to lead the learning of their colleagues. Every teacher in her school was provided with additional release
time to meet with teacher leaders during the year and to work on their action research or inquiry project.
Gina noted that she gave ‘about 30%’ weighting to on-demand or national test data to inform school wide
priorities. She balanced this with attention to multiple forms of feedback, attitudinal surveys, observations of
students at work in classrooms, analysis of artefacts produced to demonstrate student understanding, regular
conversations with students, and the results of teacher inquiries. Gina therefore attended to internal and external accountabilities and was able to build a strong and respectful professionalism amongst her staff.
The expectation that every professional in a Interested groups often propose an idea, school will engage in some form of inquiry and investigate it, sell it to staff and then it is continuous learning to strengthen and inform implemented. This is done rapidly as a their practice is one way that school leaders process to 'fix' our problems. Because it has managed to mobilise the commitment and not had all staff discuss and research the professionalism of their staff. By connecting idea or have time to do this, it can be goals to ‘pedagogical, philosophical and moral dropped the next year. Staff have purposes’, they also created an opportunity to mentioned this characteristic of this school harness teachers’ own educative purposes. A since I have been here (2 years). pattern that emerged, particularly in the This is an example of inquiry used as a ‘technical Turning Around schools, was one where fix’ rather than a more holistic ethos and classroom teachers who engaged in researchful mindset that characterises the learning culture and reflective professional practice developed of a school. Therefore, if school leaders are to the confidence and motivation to step up effectively shape culture and ethos, they will voluntarily into teacher leadership roles. also need to work towards respectful
professionalism, collective responsibility and Our two case stories illustrate school leaders
holistic approaches. who have made a strong commitment to
establishing a culture of inquiry for deep
1.3 Respectful professionalism, collective learning and understanding. The following
responsibility and holistic approaches graph illustrates a wider continuum of practice:
Within high performing schools, the NZ BES
study identified that there was a strong sense
of collective responsibility and accountability
for student achievement and well-being. As
student outcomes improved, so too did
teachers’ sense of efficacy, which in turn
encouraged greater effort and persistence.
Irene is a Victorian principal who has been
identified by system leaders as high performing:
Irene is principal of a regional primary school.
When she arrived at the school eleven years
earlier, she noticed a laissez faire culture
with little documentation of curriculum or While these graphs are indicative of trends, accountabilities and a very run down rather than being statistically significant, it is of learning environment. Students were not some concern that 26% of our survey achieving at the expected level and families participants reported that teachers in their in the low socio-economic community faced schools had only small opportunities to learn in many challenges, including financial this way. Professional learning that includes difficulties and family break-down. inquiry, observation, questioning and feedback
Irene commenced the tough task of culture is strongly indicated in the literature and are
and ethos shaping by raising expectations of highlighted as contributing to the establish-
the professionalism of her teachers, ment of a Performance and Development
attending to immediate concerns that culture (DEECD).
related to student well-being and making It is worth noting that while professional inquiry some quick and colourful changes to the can be highly effective, it can also be poorly dingy, external environment of the school. enacted. One professional learning leader Over the years, she transformed the school identified that lack of a meta-strategic into a vivid and warmly inviting space that approach could limit the learning possibilities of the community is now proud of. Parents and professional inquiry: students alike take time to care for the
environment of the school, and although
there is still sometimes vandalism, this is the students in her school and knows them now ‘shocking’ rather than the norm. and their families well.
Over time, Irene put processes in place that Irene’s approach is amply supported in the enacted her view that every teacher would research literature. Crowther et al (2009) be a successful teacher – ensuring that every identified a contemporary challenge for school student would be well served in her school. leaders as being the ability to build on This meant that every new teacher to the achievements and create a culture of success. school was provided with a mentor, teachers They note that this meant taking time to worked together in each other’s classrooms consider how students’ lives, well being and the and coaching was simply part of being a broader community were being influenced and teacher in this school. In the early years of amplifying evidence of successful outcomes for her principal-ship, some teachers chose to learners. Irene’s school is a strong example of leave rather than stay in a culture that was working long and hard to make this occur. no longer a ‘fit’ for their ways of working.
The BES research also found that it was Irene faced some difficult times when she
important for school leaders to enable remained firm about the standards of
members of their community to make practice that teachers were required to
connections. School leaders like Irene, who demonstrate – and faced her decisions being
more positively impact student learning appealed by disgruntled teachers.
Irene and her leadership team also focused
; established continuities between the professional learning each year,
student identities and school practices; requiring school wide attention to a
; developed continuities and coherence particular aspect of student learning. In the
across teaching programs; early days this was student well-being,
; ensured effective transitions from one literacy and numeracy. This guided the
educational setting to another. (p. 43) overall professional learning throughout the
year, whether formal or informal, and all
Both Linda Darling-Hammond (2010) and Andy members of the leadership team were active
Hargreaves (2009) identify investment in the participants. Over the years, Irene engaged a
professionalism of teachers as one of the most small number of external experts who
significant contributors to narrowing worked with her staff over quite long
achievement gaps between students. This type periods of time, sharing, modelling and
of professionalism enables teachers to enact supporting teachers to inquire into the
their contemporary roles as researchers, teaching practices necessary to achieve high
collaborators, learners and leaders. It moves level outcomes for students. Irene’s school
away from a view of teachers as technicians has transformed, with students now
with responsibility for enacting the ‘right’ kind consistently achieving above state averages
of instructional practices as determined by and surveys relating to the well-being and
external experts. Instead, teachers who know satisfaction of students, parents and
students are strongly supported and enabled to teachers all extremely high. Students at her
work out the diverse learning pathways that school don’t simply perform well on national
their diverse learners need to progress. literacy and numeracy tests; they have also
regularly been finalists in state and national In the Victorian context, schools reporting high competitions that require complex design levels of satisfaction with their professional and problem solving. learning approach also reported power-sharing
by school leaders. High levels of agency were When Irene talks about her staff, she is
accompanied by internal capacity building noticeably proud of them and their
around particular areas of professional achievements. Over the years, she has
knowledge and know-how. Internal recruited people to enact the strong vision
accountabilities that involved analysis of locally and ethos she has created with her
generated evidence were also in place. The leadership team. Irene is passionate about
following teacher leader reflects on their highly effective learning culture and ethos:
The most significant change has been
embracing shared responsibility for
successful staff professional development
as learning leaders rather than a
hierarchical view from the top down. The
adoption of an "inside out model" rather
than "outside in" model is understood and
supported well by all staff. Our teachers
work in a flat hierarchy that is modelled
and encouraged by the principal. Teachers
genuinely have responsibility for what
happens at this school. They welcome
support and are open to feedback and any
assistance that will help them deliver the
best program that suits our students. This school’s commitment to internal capacity
building is now paying off – with teachers and
teacher leaders mobilized and committed to taking action together to progress the learning of students. School leaders here have successfully created a culture of respectful professionalism and collective responsibility, and unlike dissatisfied schools, have everyone working together for students. This way of working was also validated in other research studies. Kaser and Halbert (2009) found that adults in schools with high levels of professional trust and a culture where leaders were not afraid to address cultural inhibitors to growth and learning demonstrated a strong moral obligation to work together for the benefit of their young people and placed the needs of learners above their own individual interests. If school leaders are to effectively shape culture and ethos by:
; identifying what is important to learn
and how best to learn;
; establishing a culture of inquiry for
deep learning and making connections;
; and creating an ethos of respectful
professionalism and collective
responsibility that attends to the whole
then it is important to attend their the metastrategic dimensions of their role that enable this to occur.