Recently I met a group of enthusiastic aspirant leaders at the start of their year long professional learning program. Aspirant leaders, I think, is in many ways a misleading title as these teachers are already leaders in their own classrooms, or teams or school. What is certain is that their own schools have selected them as future school and system leaders and that’s exciting.
The program, which is sponsored by regional principals, gives teachers a framework to use whilst leading others on a school based project. It also provides opportunities to hear world class educationalists like Marvin Oka and James Nottingham present ideas that can challenge or deepen their current paradigms.
My facilitator role in the leadership program is to support a small group of teachers and assistant principal. The program comprises 4 residential days and 6 afternoons where they visit each others school and discuss their own projects.
The opening 2 residential component of the program featured Marvin Oka amongst others who talked about “the school as a living system”. This sort of intrigued me – he used the fractal concept to talk about how things in living systems self replicate and then applied this to both the positive and negative elements in schools. He talked about one of the challenges of leadership is to disrupt the negative elements otherwise they will “fractal” to other areas or groups in the school. Learning to lead in areas of discomfort caused by fractals was also, I think, connected to the first frame of the APAPDC framework – leadership starts from within.
Many leadership frameworks try and embed the person as a leader within their schema. In Victorian public schools we use Sergiovanni ‘s leadership domains which I think embeds one’s skills within the domains but not necessarily oneself as the person.
One of the units I completed in the Masters Program did focus on one’s pedagogy or beliefs which is I think close to this “coming from within” frame. One of the books we read “The Wounded Leader” focused on the person as the leader where the authors’ premise is that wounding is an inevitable dimension of leadership.
Perhaps this knowing oneself as a leader with the inevitable wounding that comes from leadership determines the essence of the role of the facilitator as a supporter and prompter for personal reflection.
“Learning from experience in not inevitable it must be intentional ….. with the aim of becoming a reflective practitioner.” [Barth, Learning by Heart P65].
I really liked the quote from the APAPDC leadership framework which I have shared with my own staff about leadership:
“The point is not to become a leader. The point is to become yourself, and to use yourself completely – all your gifts, skills and energies – to make your vision manifest. You must withhold nothing, you must, in sum, become the person you started out to be, and to enjoy the process of becoming.” [Bennis.W. 2003. p 104]
I have the honour to support others in this year long program so that they may know their inner self a little better and enjoy the ride.