Sunday, 30 October 2016

Principal's Professional Development

Jill Farquharson's meeting with Michael Fullan and Visits to Network Schools in Toronto.

This year I was fortunate to be able to take part in a professional development opportunity with a one-on-one meeting with Michael Fullen.

Points Discussed  

  • Structure of networks 
  • Work in progress for our network 
  • Opportunities and challenges we are facing 
  • Looking ahead, next steps  

Key Take Outs 

  •  The centre frames the direction, the middle gets empowered and the bottom liberated (the term middle depends on your context. For some jurisdictions middle is the Principal e.g. Ontario but for others it means the teachers and middle leaders e.g. NZ). Devolution of power. 
  • Get to the nitty gritty with your work, explore what the causal pathways might be, but don’t rely on this always being clear. There is no recipe. 
  • Look for opportunities to lead and learn from other networks. You should have a penchant to what is happening in the rest of the country. Have an external face and a plan of action ‘look out to be better in’. 
  • Chronicle your efforts, develop new measures mindset and use two or three of them to take regular stock takes – name it, model it, monitor it. Don’t worry if you know what the destination is but the pathway is not that clear. This is part of innovation.  

It’s quite humbling to look off shore at different jurisdictions, talk to world renowned experts in the field and receive confirmation that what we are doing in New Zealand is world class. We punch well above our weight for such a small country. The innovation, risk taking and empowerment that is happening in our COL means we are learning all the time and should keep talking about it, amongst ourselves, in the community and across the country. What we have happening is good, it matches current thinking about leading and learning and offers paradigm to adapt and successfully accelerate system interventions in education. COLs are a powerful driver for improvement.


  • Lift our profile – tell people about what we are doing not only to be noticed but for quality feedback as well. 
  • Extend our network links – across Auckland, across the country. Significant gains can be made by sharing. Find out what else is happening in the country, in leadership, in new pedagogies.  
  • Be explicit in what we want and focus on things that count. 
  • Chronicle our work.  
  • Develop a new measures mindset (with a focus on only one or two - don’t have too many). 
  • Continue as leaders to be interested in building collective capacity rather than individual autonomy. 
  • Plan for a regular stocktake, how are we doing? Be specific. 

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