Books

Using the Recovery Rocket to create your recovery plan

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 Recovery Rocket. The Recovery Rocket model for maintaining your wellbeing is simple, effective and easy to use. It was created by Andrew May (2010), an executive coach and former sports psychologist at the Australian Institute of Sport. May adapted his insights from the sporting world and applied them to the world of work. He created the concept of an annual recovery plan, to enable people to perform at their best.Essentially, the Recovery Rocket provides a framework for maintaining a baseline of mental wellness over a year, and then reminds you to take time for yourself to do activities you enjoy – referred to as ‘recovery points’. It encourages you to make a ‘recovery plan’ at the beginning of each year, based on the model explained below and in this Recovery Rocket guide. The baseline framework suggests you aim for the following over a year:10-15 minutes of ‘slow time’ every day (going for a walk, preparing veggies for dinner, meditation, etc)300 nights of good sleep (7 + hours of unbroken sleep) every year (if you can)30 weeks where you accumulate 100 recovery pointsThree mini breaks (away from screens and day to day responsibilities)One big break or ‘off season’.Earning ‘Recovery Points’ You can earn recovery points in different ways that work for you. You might attribute 10 points to walking the dog, 20 points to doing a yoga class and 50 points to a one-hour massage. It is about choosing activities that you enjoy doing and giving them a number of points that relates to the enjoyment you get from engaging in them. The Recovery Rocket gives you the opportunity to approach your health and wellness in a flexible, personal way that works for you. As we look ahead to 2022, now is a great time to get started on your recovery plan for the new year. Downloadable resource: Download the Recovery Rocket guide 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

Wellbeing with NESLI: The Line of Choice

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 Line of Choice. The Line of Choice is a practical model that encourages you and your team members to create a culture that fosters accountability, ownership and teamwork. Working in a team with a positive culture contributes to better wellbeing for you and your team, boosting morale and leading to higher job satisfaction. In turn, students and teachers have better relationships; in fact, teacher wellbeing is a key factor in student outcomes.Below the line behaviour usually plays out in school communities with cultural issues, where people don’t feel comfortable, or don’t want to be accountable for the work they do, or the outcomes they produce. Instead, they turn to blame, excuses and denial to avoid taking responsibility – particularly when outcomes are less than desirable.Above the line behaviour usually occurs in an environment where people are happy to accept and take responsibility for the outcomes they produce – not just the excellent ones, but the not-so-good ones as well. They will take ownership, be accountable, and accept responsibility for their work. In these schools, teachers, school leaders and school staff usually experience a high level of psychological safety and can work collaboratively with each other.Download the School Culture and Line of Choice worksheet to see what above and below the line thinking and behaviour looks like.When your team members feel comfortable and psychologically safe, they are more likely to sit above the line. This is because above the line thinking and behaviours create a culture that is open, honest, supportive and accepting. This Line of Choice worksheet will help you ask the questions you need to direct your team to an above the line frame of mind.Downloadable resources: School Culture and Line of ChoiceLine of Choice WorksheetFor more leadership news, plus event updates and expert tips, subscribe to our mailing list Subscribe now.

Books

Hear and be heard: Achieving high-quality advocacy and inquiry at work

Do you ever feel like you can’t quite get your point across at work? Or maybe, you want to understand more about a decision that has been made? It’s frustrating to feel like you aren’t being heard, or that you don’t understand the motivation behind particular decisions that are being made. We sat down with Paul Larkin, Senior Facilitator and Executive Coach at NESLI to find out how we can hear and be heard at work using high quality advocacy and inquiry techniques.High-quality advocacy occurs when one states their point of view, explains their thinking and reasoning behind it, and invites and listens to another person’s point of view. High-quality inquiry is when one asks a question, shares what is behind their question and truly listens to the other’s response.Most conversations typically involve each person putting forward their point of view.  If you listen in to others conversations sometimes, you will likely notice very few questions asked, and those are often posed in a way that invites confirmation of one’s own point of view; very little real listening is undertaken. These is how low-quality advocacy and inquiry occur.What’s the difference between low-quality and high-quality advocacy and inquiry? According to Paul, the key difference between high-quality and low-quality advocacy and inquiry is your preparedness to reveal what is behind what you are saying and asking, and your openness to being genuinely interested in others’ views.“Low-quality advocacy, or everyday advocacy, could involve you making a simple statement. For example, ‘I think we should have paid parental leave in our company.’ Now, while that is a very valid belief, that statement doesn’t reveal anything about why you think that, or how you came to that conclusion.  It also doesn’t invite the other person to share their views,” Paul explains.Similarly, low-quality inquiry occurs where you ask a question, without providing context, or meaningfully engaging with the person with whom you are speaking.What does high-quality advocacy look like? There is a simple formula for high-quality advocacy.State your belief, opinion or ideaReveal the thinking or reasoning behind your pointInvite the listener to share their ideas about the topicActively listen With low-quality advocacy, you will find yourself stopping at the first step. There’s no real problem with this, but it’s also not very useful – you aren’t having an engaged, two-way conversation. Other barriers to achieving high-quality advocacy lie in feeling certain that you are right, or an unwillingness to consider other points of view.According to Paul, the best way to encourage your team to use high-quality advocacy is to practise it yourself.“The best way to influence others is by being a model of the behaviour you are trying to achieve.  People may be so amazed at the conversational outcomes you get that they will want to know how you do it.”What does high-quality inquiry look like?As with advocacy, there are four steps to achieving high-quality inquiry.Ask your questionExplain why you are asking the questionActively listen to their responseSeek to understand their point of view With low-quality inquiry, you will once again find yourself stopping at the first step, instead of going further to provide context, and to meaningfully listen and engage with the other person’s ideas. Barriers to achieving high-quality inquiry include the desire to be right, and a desire to be the person whose ideas are listened to and ultimately taken on board, leading to a disregard for the ideas and opinions of others on your team.Paul gives this advice for achieving high-quality inquiry: “Be constantly curious; suspend judgement; offer more questions than statements.”He adds, “whilst high-quality advocacy and inquiry may, on the surface, seem to take longer, the radical increase in understanding that arises leads to faster, more meaningful conversations and outcomes.”Once you and your team have practised high-quality advocacy and inquiry, you can have more meaningful conversations, more fully understand each other and have more open, robust, and fruitful conversations.How will you encourage your team to use high-quality advocacy and inquiry? Share with us in the comments below.

Books

Creating a culture of clarity: expert tips for effective conversations

Do you ever leave a conversation with a colleague and feel like you aren’t quite sure what you were discussing? You might feel like you don’t have the full picture of what they were trying to convey. This is quite common - but nonetheless it can make it hard to gain clarity and communicate clearly and effectively in the workplace.As a leader, there are things you can do to recognise and address these confusing conversations, creating clarity for yourself and your team. We spoke with Paul Larkin, Senior Facilitator and Executive Coach at NESLI, about what to look out for when conversations become clouded.Generalisations occur when someone makes a sweeping, all-encompassing, everything or nothing statement. For example, ‘everyone’s unhappy about that decision.’ While this is a concerning statement that needs to be addressed, it is unlikely that every single person is totally unhappy about a decision.Distortions occur when we take information and add meaning to it that may not be there. For example, a team member may look at their phone while someone is giving a presentation. The person presenting might take that gesture to mean that this individual does not care about the work they have done, or does not find it interesting. This may be the case – or there could be a family emergency, or an urgent alert. However, the person presenting has applied their own meaning to the action, and this is when a distortion occurs.Deletions occur when a crucial piece of information is left out. For example, ‘this is important.’ Who is it important to? Why is it important? Another example is ‘there’s no time.’ No time for what? Why is there no time? Most of the time, this will be clear. However, in situations where it is not immediately clear, or where further information is useful, it is important ask follow-up questions to truly understand what is going on.Blinking words are words that have multiple meanings, or that may lend themselves to different interpretations. Paul explains that often, there is ambiguity in a statement that needs to be addressed. But by identifying blinking words, you can ask further questions to figure out precisely what someone is saying to you.“For example, someone says, ‘The culture of this place is not healthy.’ Many people would either simply agree or disagree, aligned with their existing point of view,” explains Paul.“But by using generalisations, distortions and deletions, and by looking for blinking words, we can recognise that there is a lot in the statement that demands clarification, for example: where precisely is ‘this place’? Is it the company, department, team, city, country? What precisely is meant by ‘culture’? What precisely is meant by ‘healthy’? By recognising that there is a lot of ambiguous information in the statement, we can become curious and invite the person who said it to share some of their thinking more deeply.”In the above example, the words ‘culture’ ‘place’ and ‘healthy’ are all blinking words. To fully understand your colleague’s meaning, you need more clarity around what all these words mean to them.What happens next?Using high quality advocacy and inquiry techniques will allow you to clarify the issues and prompt your colleagues to communicate more clearly. Questions like:Who doesn’t agree with this decision?What is it about the culture here that is unhealthy?What does a positive culture look like to you?Who is this important to?Could it mean something else? Are you sure? By understanding generalisations, distortions, deletions and blinking words, and asking the right questions, you can help both yourself and your team to communicate effectively and with clarity.How will you use this information to communicate more clearly? Share with us in the comments below!

Books

New NESLI program empowers women teachers to step into leadership roles

NESLI is launching a new program that will help propel women into teaching careers by developing critical leadership and wellbeing skills.The NESLI Women’s Future Leaders Program focuses on improving resilience and wellbeing and  developing critical leadership, conflict management and networking skills. A recent study by Dr Sue Thompson shows that 26 per cent of women teachers report ‘a lot of stress’ in their roles, compared with 20 per cent of male teachers. The study also finds that teachers who report ‘a lot of stress’ are likely to leave the profession in the next five years. Dr Janet Smith, Program Director for NESLI, said that with women more likely to report high stress levels, it is likely that we will see more women leaving the teaching profession. “The absence of a reliable pool of future leaders in Australian schools is pressing and needs to be urgently addressed,” Dr Smith said.“Ensuring that teachers are aware of a pathway to leadership in a school environment, inspiring them to pursue leadership and enabling them to be effective, confident school leaders is critical to the success of Australia’s schools.“We know that while most teaching staff are women, most senior leadership positions in schools are held by men. We believe that nurturing the leadership aspirations and capability of emerging women leaders is an important step towards long-term gender equity, and better outcomes for schools, students and their communities.“The flexible, online program will set women teachers up for a successful career as future school leaders.”Recent findings from the National Initial Teacher Education Pipeline: Australian Teacher Workforce Data Report 1 (The Pipeline Report) reveal that Australia is facing a critical lack of new students studying and completing teaching degrees at universities. Attrition rates for early career teachers (those in their first five years) are estimated to be around 50 per cent, according to the Australian Association for Research in Education. “This research tells us that we are losing around half of our graduates before they can progress to middle and senior leadership roles in schools,” Dr Smith said.The Women’s Future Leaders Program is now open for enrolments. Visit www.nesli.org/futureleaders for more information and to apply. 

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ALMOST 1 IN 2 WOMEN TEACHERS EXPERIENCE DISCRIMINATION AT THEIR SCHOOL​

Important survey points to widespread biases, boys club culture and bullying.

Almost one in two women teachers in Australian schools have experienced some kind of barrier or discrimination throughout their careers, according to a new survey administered by the National Excellence in School Leadership Institute (NESLI). 

The 2018 Australian Schools Gender Survey is believed to be the first of its kind in Australia, and points to consistent patterns of severe bias in hiring practices, salaries and professional development plans, a boys club culture in some schools and behavioural prejudices against women leaders within the education sector. 

When asked ‘As a woman, have you ever experienced barriers or discrimination within a school (can be your current or former school)?’, 46% said yes, 39% said no and 15% were unsure. 

Respondents were asked to specify what kind of barriers or discrimination they most commonly faced. They reported that women in schools are often undermined in meetings and do not get the same promotional opportunities (especially when of childbearing age), and that women leaders are sometimes seen as weak and ineffective, especially when working in boys schools.  

Interestingly, survey respondents reported that these prejudicial behaviours and attitudes don’t only come from within the internal ranks of the school. Parents (particularly fathers) exhibit the same predispositions, whether it’s their preference for speaking with a male member of staff, bullying from male parents on a school council who did not recognise that a women leader was capable of understanding the finances of a school, or just a general perception from parents that women aren't as 'strong' as men and that males are better principals. Dr Janet Smith, Leader of NESLI’s 2018 Year of Women in School Leadership, has said she finds these results extremely disappointing and problematic. She commented that, “It is totally unacceptable that in 2018, nearly half of the women teachers who were surveyed have reported experiencing some form of disadvantage or discrimination because of their gender.”

The ‘Education and Training’ sector is officially ‘female-dominated’, with 70.6% of the workforce being women, finds the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. Since 1995, this is an increase of 5.2%, when females made up 65.4% of industry employees. 

However, the picture is much starker when looking at the participation of women in leadership roles – particularly for schools. The Staff in Australia's Schools survey found that 80% and 58.4% of Australia’s primary and secondary school teachers are female respectively, yet only 57.5% and 41.7% of principals in each of those sectors are female. 

Respondents were also asked what they think would be most helpful or supportive in addressing this issue. The most common sentiments included better support from colleagues, mentoring schemes/arrangements, leadership training and professional development and being offered more opportunities to progress. 

Other ideas included allowing women to work flexibly in leadership roles and not being penalised for taking maternity leave, identification of institutionalised sexism and gender discrimination and an action plan to remedy, and developing a strong reciprocal network of female trusted leaders. 

Fortunately, a more positive response was achieved when NESLI asked the survey respondents to rate their current level of personal wellbeing at work. The most common responses were ‘Good’ (46.7%), ‘Fair’ (27.31%) and ‘Excellent’ (20.7%). Only 1 in 20 respondents said that their level of wellbeing was either ‘Poor’ or ‘Very Poor’ (5.29%).    

The survey was launched by NESLI as part of their 2018 Year of Women in School Leadership. The 12 month period includes a range of research activities, events and development programs to address the problems highlighted in the 2018 Australian Schools Gender Survey.  

The results of the survey will be discussed further at the forthcoming Australian Schools Women’s Leadership Summit in Sydney on 18th April.

“The results of this survey have further strengthened NESLI’s commitment to this issue,” Dr Smith said. “We look forward to working with women teachers and school leaders throughout 2018, to support and inspire them and to help reduce the challenges and barriers they face.”