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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NESLI LEADERS IN ACTION: MERILYN BURTON

Merilyn Burton talks about her career journey and how NESLI helped her on her path to becoming a principal through the Advanced Leadership Program.

Can you tell us a bit about your career journey?

I have been extremely fortunate to have been afforded leadership opportunities early in my teaching career. I worked in western NSW for 4 years, and spent most of that time in relieving roles, receiving invaluable leadership opportunities and professional development. 

I was successful in obtaining a permanent assistant principal role after about 8 years of teaching, with the opportunity to relieve as principal for 6 terms about 10 years ago. The school I work at has significant funding due to socio-economic disadvantage, which enabled me to work in both a teacher mentor and deputy principal role, utilising and building my leadership capabilities.

What were you looking for when you chose to do the Advanced Leadership Program (ALP) with NESLI?

I was at a real crossroads in my leadership journey at the end of 2015. I was unsure of which direction I wanted my career to take and felt like I needed a change. I had applied for a few positions with no success, and was starting to question my leadership abilities and career choices. My principal at the time encouraged me to apply for the ALP and I decided to take a chance and applied. 

Just being accepted into the program gave me a real confidence boost and reenergised my leadership and career ambitions.

What are the most important things you learnt doing the ALP?

I learnt a lot about myself, what I valued and the kind of leader I was, as well as the leader I strived to be. Authentic leadership was something I strongly identified with and I thoroughly enjoyed the webinars, giving me an opportunity to talk with a bunch of great women facing similar issues.

I learnt how to silence my inner critic, which I soon realised was something I had always struggled with. I had a great coach, who had travelled a similar career path, and I got a lot out of our coaching sessions via Skype.  Another thing I discovered was that I had lost my ‘sweet spot’. So I examined some of the things within my role that I wasn’t enjoying anymore and channelled my abilities, interests and strengths into other areas. I found this was really helpful, as it gave me greater purpose and fulfilment within my role again. It was something quite simple to do, yet without knowing about it I wouldn’t have changed anything.

How has the ALP helped you in your journey to becoming a principal?

At the end of last year I was successful in gaining the principal position at my existing school. As I had been an assistant principal here for 11 years, I recognised that moving into the  role of principal was going to have some challenges, such as my relationships with staff and how I was going to step up to a new level of leadership. 

As part of my interview process, I had to present what my first staff meeting would look like. Instantly, I knew that the authentic leadership principles was the perfect place to start! I used the analogy ‘from the dance floor to the balcony’ to explain how I was going to achieve this and the feedback I received when I was offered the job was that this blew everyone away and they were extremely impressed.

What is your biggest challenge as a principal? 

Time and paperwork! While I am fortunate enough to have gained a position at my existing school, it has been a very overwhelming year so far. A few new challenges have been thrown my way, including a whole new finance system and the development of a new three year plan. Building the capacity of my executive team is a big focus for me, which will set the scene for the continued growth and success of the school. 

Merilyn Burton is Principal of Pelaw Main Public School in the Hunter Region of New South Wales. Merilyn completed the Advanced Leadership Program.