Positive schools, great school cultures and wellbeing for educators and students begins with empowered school leaders and educators. When school leaders and teachers feel empowered they are more confident, experience greater career satisfaction and are more likely to empower their students.
Most teachers and school leaders begin their career with so much passion for making a difference to the lives of young people. Some manage to maintain that passion through years of ups and downs, many though find their passion for education tested and may even leave the profession.
Huge workloads, staff division, parents with unrealistic expectations, students with behavioral challenges, home challenges and learning challenges, bureaucracy, school leaders who, despite their best efforts and best intentions, are not always able to provide the leadership that the team needs… All lead to teachers and school leaders experiencing stress, burnout, overwhelm, frustration and a lack of empowerment and passion.
To disrupt means to challenge the status quo, to invite new and innovative ways of thinking to solve new and old challenges of teaching and education. If we hang on to the same thinking, the same systems we can expect to continue to get the same, or possibly worse results…
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” Albert Einstein
Disruption begins with a teacher or school leader deciding that it is time for change and being willing to lead that change. Challenging what has become the norm for schools and teachers takes courage and commitment. It takes school leaders and teachers coming together and deciding to buck the trend, to go against the flow, to disrupt the ordinary and average in the pursuit of extraordinary. To empower themselves, their colleagues and ultimately their students!
It’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture behind an ever growing pile of marking and paperwork! The reason we went into teaching and the passion, motivation and empowerment we once had can become lost somewhere between parent meetings, assessments, deadlines and morning tea breaks that are barely long enough to use the bathroom.
Designing a great school culture that empowers school leaders and teachers and that rekindles their passion begins with reconnecting them with the vision that they have for themselves as well as for their school.
Ask yourself these questions:
“What was I passionate about when I began this journey (the journey to being a teacher or a school leader)?”
“What difference did I want to make?” “Why did I choose this as my career?”
“What did being a teacher/ school leader mean to me?” “What kind of teacher/ school leader did I want to be?” “What did I value?”
“What were the standards that I had for myself?”
“What were the expectations I had of others?” Then ask yourself, what has changed?
If not much has changed, you’ll likely be feeling pretty good about your career. The bigger the gap between what you thought teaching/ school leadership would be like and your current experience, the more dissatisfaction you could be experiencing.
Recognising the gap between your expectations and your reality is only the first part of the puzzle. The next step is to close that gap! This can be done in two ways, you can either change the reality or change your expectations to match your reality. This principle applies to life as well, not just education.
Little or no change occurs when you are comfortable. Even if you are unhappy and don’t like things the way they are, if you are comfortable there is no driver for you to change. Change will only occur when you get uncomfortable enough to decide now is the time for change.
If there is a significant gap between your vision for your school and the values that you have around education make a change. Be courageous and begin a disruptive revolution in your school. Create a positive shift in school culture and learning environments for the benefit of the educators as well as the students.
A revolution though requires more than just one voice. If you want to bring about change in your school’s culture it will take time, much of that time will be spent on bringing your team on a journey so that you can make the shift from good to great together.
Start by exploring common values, creating a shared vision for your school, acknowledging each other’s strengths and what each person brings to the team. Encourage each person to develop their own unique skills and talents to enrich the team and to create the leaders of tomorrow.
Kristy Ambrose is the founder and lead coach at Disruptive Education & Training and with over 12 years in teaching she understands how a positive school culture can impact on
educators and students alike. Kristy now focusses on working with principals and teachers to develop whole of school coaching and training programmes to disrupt the way they have previously performed and create positive change towards clear goals and visions.