Books

How to be a trauma informed leader

The coronavirus pandemic – and the response that has been required by the education system, is truly one of the most pressing challenges schools have ever faced. Many school leaders are experiencing serious ‘carers’ load’ and ‘vicarious trauma’ as a result of their staff and students’ challenges.

Books

Leading through disruption and into the future

The coronavirus pandemic – and the response that has been required by the education system, is truly one of the most pressing challenges schools have ever faced. Many school leaders are experiencing serious ‘carers’ load’ and ‘vicarious trauma’ as a result of their staff and students’ challenges.

Books

Leadership renewal for women in schools

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, burnout amongst teachers, school leaders and staff was at an all time high. As we continue to navigate the impacts of the pandemic, it is important to find opportunities to reflect, reconnect and refocus.The Australian Schools Women’s Leadership Summit provides a unique opportunity for women at all levels of school leadership to connect, share their experiences, build their leadership capacity and prioritise their own wellbeing.The summit, facilitated by Dr Janet Smith and Dr Debra Kelliher, will cover these three key themes:Where to from here?Guiding our schools through the coronavirus pandemic and continuing to prioritise patient care has placed extraordinary demands on school leaders across Australia and the world. This critical juncture presents a timely opportunity to reflect and learn from our recent experience and rethink the way we have done things in the past.Relational agencyHigh functioning teams are essential to the busy work of schools, yet as a team leader in a school do we know why effective teams work and why there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’? We’ll look at what makes a healthy team, the concept of ‘relational agency’ and the characteristics of trust – the essential foundation of a team. Useful for both team leaders and team members in schools.Inspiration and insights from inspirational women leadersDuring the summit, participants will hear from several inspirational education sector speakers about their leadership/career journeys and the key elements that have contributed to their success.Speakers include:Tanya Plibersek MP, Shadow Minister for Education, Shadow Minister for Women, Federal Member for SydneyDr Briony Scott, Principal, Wenona SchoolKristen Douglas, National Manager & Head, headspace SchoolsDr Jessa Rogers, First Nations Senior Research Fellow, Queensland University of Technology; Managing Director, Baayi ConsultingAnd more! The pandemic has placed extraordinary demands on school leaders, who have been on the front lines dealing with unprecedented disruption for over two years. This summit will provide opportunities to be inspired by experts, connect with other school leaders, recharge leadership strategies and envisage and plan for the future. You can find out more and book your seat here.  WE NEED MORE LEADERS LIKE YOUYou’re here because you know that great leadership enables better teaching and learning. We’re here to help you be a great leader within your school community. For more leadership news, plus event updates and expert tips, subscribe to our mailing list. SUBSCRIBE NOW

Books

Understanding and increasing your Social Capital

Our Wellbeing with NESLI series brings you essential wellbeing tools and downloadable resources that enhance the wellbeing of teachers, school leaders and school communities. In this edition of Wellbeing with NESLI, we look at Social Capital.Social Capital is an important factor when considering the wellbeing for your teachers, school staff and school leaders. A school community that enjoys robust social capital for everyone will lead to better student outcomes and boost morale across students, teachers and staff alike.There are three critical dimensions to social capital in the school community. These include:Bonding Social Capital: the day to day, interpersonal interactions that you and your teachers and staff have with each other. You can see this by looking out for friendly conversation, shared interests and a genuine connection and conversation between individuals.Bridging Social Capital: the social interactions and cohesiveness experienced between teams – not just the individuals in a team, but in inter-team cooperation and cohesion. You can see this by looking out for teams that work well together to support the outcomes of the other teams, and are able to identify opportunities for collaboration.Linking Social Capital: the social interactions that occur between different levels of seniority in the organisation – for example, the rapport between a junior member of staff and a member of your school’s leadership team. You can see this by looking for open collaboration and communication between different levels of leadership teams and individuals.This Social Capital poster provides a handy summary.To delve a little deeper, download the Social Capital Dimensions resource here to find out about three other types of social capital to look out for, and to complete a self-assessment of your own social capital.NESLI’s Staff Wellbeing Toolkit builds social capital within schools through a flexible, self-paced program. Find out more here.Downloadable resources:Social Capital posterSocial Capital Dimensions resource WE NEED MORE LEADERS LIKE YOUYou’re here because you know that great leadership enables better teaching and learning. We’re here to help you be a great leader within your school community. For more leadership news, plus event updates and expert tips, subscribe to our mailing list. SUBSCRIBE NOW

Books

Understanding and using the Ladder of Inference

Our Wellbeing with NESLI series brings you essential wellbeing tools and downloadable resources that enhance the wellbeing of teachers, school leaders and school communities. In this edition of Wellbeing with NESLI, we look at the Ladder of Inference. Do you ever jump to conclusions without carefully considering all the facts? Sometimes, it is easy to take a raised eyebrow, pause in conversation, email or a glance at a mobile and immediately assume that a fellow teacher doesn’t support your suggestion, or isn’t interested in your pitch for a new activity in the classroom. However, this isn’t always the case.The Ladder of Inference model, created by Chris Argyris, gives you a framework to examine the conclusions you draw from everyday interactions at school. To strip it back to the basics, the Ladder of Inference reminds us to use all the data we have available to us to draw a conclusion – not just the data we immediately notice. The example below gives a summary of how you may move quickly up the Ladder of Inference without considering all the information available.There are four steps on the Ladder of Inference: See and hear: you see a parent looking at their phone while their child does a presentation at assembly.Constructing a story: you might quickly assume that the parent is not interested in their child’s work and effort because they aren’t paying attention.Think and feel: you could feel frustrated or angry with the parent, and sympathy for the child who is being ignored. You might think that the parent does not care enough about the child’s learning.Say and do: you might communicate less openly and positively with the parent, or even ask them to look away from their phone and give attention to their child. You might give the child extra feedback and attention.In this scenario, the information you might be missing is that the parent also has a sick child at home, who needs assistance. The parent may also have an urgent work-related matter to attend to, or an elderly parent who needs something. Therefore, what you have inferred from their actions (that they aren’t supportive of their child) is unfounded, and your subsequent reaction is not proportionate.It is easy to move quickly up the Ladder of Inference – most of us do it subconsciously, and in seconds. Taking the time to recognise when you are climbing the ladder, and to then come back down to examine the data before coming to a more rational conclusion is an important skill for leaders in school environments.Here are some questions that can help you unpack your assumptions and reactions: How many times have I leapt up the ladder in the last week?What were the beliefs I held or the assumptions I made?Were the assumptions I made fair and accurate?Do I have all the information I need to know what is going on here?What impact will my actions or words have in this situation?How can I be more curious about the situation, and mediate my response? You can find out more about the Ladder of Inference by downloading the Ladder of Inference poster. Sharing this model with your team and colleagues can create a shared language and understanding, and can be a helpful prompt for team building. WE NEED MORE LEADERS LIKE YOUYou’re here because you know that great leadership enables better teaching and learning. We’re here to help you be a great leader within your school community. For more leadership news, plus event updates and expert tips, subscribe to our mailing list. SUBSCRIBE NOW

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Leading through disruption and into the future

Books

By Suzi Finkelstein

The coronavirus pandemic – and the response that has been required by the education system, is truly one of the most pressing challenges schools have ever faced. Many school leaders are experiencing serious ‘carers’ load’ and ‘vicarious trauma’ as a result of their staff and students’ challenges.

This series of ‘recharge’ blogs explores themes and models that school leaders, teachers and staff can come to in times of stress, or to replenish their leadership capacity. In this blog, we look at practical solutions to harness this disruption and bring us forward into a new era of learning.

What is disruption?

Put simply, disruption is change. Often, it is characterised by unplanned, or significant, change. While COVID is the most commonly discussed disruptor at the moment, the principles of leading through disruption can be applied more broadly – from environmental disasters, like bushfires and floods, to significant social change, like the Black Lives Matter movement, or #MeToo. One of the most important things to remember about disruption is that over time, a lot of good can come from it.

What are some of the negative effects of disruption in schools?

Unfortunately, the disruption caused by COVID has had a significant impact on the energy reserves and wellbeing of school leaders, teachers, staff, parents and students. Research over the COVID period has found that 2020 was the most stressful year in history (1), with burnout levels increasing by 12 per cent in a single year (2). On top of that, nearly half of employees who worked from home reported that their mental health and wellbeing had declined (3).

These statistics go some way to explaining why school leaders and school communities more broadly are reporting decreased leadership capacity, burnout, and disengagement with their roles. The 2021 Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey found that the quantity of work that needed to be done, the lack of time to focus on teaching and learning, supporting students with mental health challenges and expectations from parents and employers were the four most common causes of stress for school leaders, and all of these issues were greatly exacerbated by the challenges of COVID.

How can we move forward?

If we can find it in ourselves to look past the exhaustion of COVID, we can already see some effects that will help us move forward positively. Research has already told us that there has been a sharp increase in digital literacy skills across the global population (4), and that the dissolution of the ‘formal’ work environment has created a more ‘human’ culture in school and work environments (5). Both of these elements offer us opportunities to optimise the school environment.  

How to lead through disruption:

There are a few ways to lead positively through this disruption:

Create a safe space

You can create a safe space for your teachers, staff and the broader school community to express their concerns in almost any environment. Making time for private one on one conversations online, over the phone or in person is one way, or gathering with small groups at a time. Having a regular all-staff meeting where people are openly invited to ask questions and raise concerns is another way.

Communicate frequently with your school community

Understanding and utilising different communication channels on a regular basis will help your school community feel connected and informed, reducing anxiety and fear about things that are ‘unknown.’ A regular update via online portals, a semi regular webinar that parents can attend and popping into classrooms to chat with students are all ways you can stay connected and reduce stress for your school community.

Invest in opportunities that will enable your staff, teachers and students to harness the new skills they have learned

Reminding students, teachers and staff that they learned and achieved during the pandemic will help them to overcome a potential sense of loss, after two years of disrupted learning. Giving them opportunities to put their new skills to good use in the classroom environment reminds them that they did achieve something tangible – and gives them something to be proud of.

1. Gallup, 2021

2. Glint, 2021

3. Qualtrics, 2020

4. McKinsey, 2021

5. The Conversation, 2021

 

WE NEED MORE LEADERS LIKE YOU

You’re here because you know that great leadership enables better teaching and learning. We’re here to help you be a great leader within your school community. 

For more leadership news, plus event updates and expert tips, subscribe to our mailing list. 

SUBSCRIBE NOW