The definition of a good school might vary according to its nature, size and community, but effective leadership is always an essential component of its success.
There are many different styles of leadership, with hundreds of books giving advice on how to be effective, but in essence, school leadership can be boiled down to three key strands:
- A defined vision and purpose, fostering the right growth mindset through a strong, inclusive ethos.
- A clear strategy, aligning Learning, Teaching & Parental experiences across the entire school, from classroom to beyond the classroom
- Ongoing measurement of impact and success of this strategy, with opportunities for reflection and evolution on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, running a school and the day to day management that this entails can all too often get in the way of actually leading a school and ensuring that a vision is realised.
Technology will not provide leaders with either a vision or a strategy for executing it, and neither should it - technology is a tool, not a philosophy of education. However, what technology can do is give them more time to concentrate on these fundamentals and help them track the impact on the school community. So what can school leaders do to make the most of the tools they have available to them?
Step 1: Take a step back for a moment and remember what your vision for your school actually is! It can be all too easy to forget those dreams and ideas you had when you first accepted your position at the school.
Step 2: Remember this is a team game. You don’t have to manage everything - your leadership team will have a range of skills and experience which can help you define and deliver your strategy. It is very likely that technology will be a key part of the delivery process so make sure that someone takes the lead for technology. If they are a member of the leadership team, then they will have a clear understanding of your strategic aims, and will be able to select the best technology as well as integrate it effectively to help you achieve these goals.
Step 3: Remove barriers. If you want people to get on board, you need to make the journey as easy as possible, and this means removing obstacles and hurdles wherever practicable. One way of doing this is to look at your existing processes and systems. It is very easy for schools to become “institutionalised” and fall into the “we’ve always done it this way” trap. Technology is continually advancing and can provide many opportunities for optimising your processes, saving time for everyone concerned. But, if you want to make the most of the technology you are using then make sure you invest time in giving your staff the skills they need to use it effectively.
Step 4: Relentless communication. The success of any vision and strategy is dependent on the whole school community, so you need to make sure that you engage everyone. “Relentless” might feel like a bit of a strong word, but remember, you have been thinking about your vision and strategy for some time - it is probably second nature to you. Those around you will need time for your message to become as familiar. You can achieve this by ensuring that the vision is a central part of your school's communication strategy. When you are at the point where you are sick of hearing yourself talk about it, then it is just about starting to sink into the wider school consciousness.
Step 5: Celebrate success. This is important for two reasons: firstly it provides a good opportunity for everyone to see how well the new strategy is working, and the positive impact that it is having on colleagues and friends. Secondly, people want to know when they are getting something right, particularly when it is new and unfamiliar to them. Celebrating successes in this way allows you to reward progress and positively reinforce your message, giving staff the confidence to be more independent in the way they go about their day to day activities.
Step 6: Keep up the momentum. It is all too easy to think that you’ve cracked it. However, It is vital that you continue to work to drive your strategy forward. As part of this you need to make sure that you are tracking both the impact of your actions and the effectiveness of the tools you are using to implement it. In this way, not only can you ensure consistency at your school, but you can also adjust and evolve your strategy where required.
Of course, leadership does not exist in a vacuum and technology can be a valuable tool in the implementation of strategy, engagement of the school community, and tracking of impact. To paraphrase Michael Fullan, pedagogy should be the driver behind any school, but technology is the accelerator to bring about the best results as quickly as possible.
Ultimately however, effective leadership in a school is the first step on the road to achieving successful outcomes for everyone involved, teachers, students and parents.
"The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them."
If you’re not quite sure where you are on your digital experience journey, or simply want to make sure your plans are heading in the right direction, take 5 minutes to complete our Digital Maturity Diagnostic. You will receive your report within minutes via email, giving you the information you need to inform your strategy moving forward and understand what you should be doing next.