After nearly a year, I am reaching the end of my senior management - 'Leadership Pathways' training programme. I completed the Leading from the Middle programme a couple of years ago and found it a really valuable experience, which really opened my eyes as to how I would do things differently in a number of given situations.
Leadership Pathways has been much different - far more reading and educational theory behind it - lots of online units, lots of time taken to read though the relevant information, answer many a hypothetical question, and lots of self evaluation and reflection. Obviously some aspects of the programme have engaged me more than others, and I'd be interested to know how many senior leaders already in place have attempted this sort of programme. I've found that I learn much more from face to face contact, I guess I'm very inquisitive in nature, and having the opportunity to ask questions and bounce ideas around has been very important to me.
My leadership focus, if that is the apt phrase has also developed enormously since I started on this course. I was charged by the school to set up a Virtual Learning environment, and opted to choose that as I thought it would be a straightforward task to carry out.
What has happened, however, is that the scope of the task has developed and undergone a metamorphosis which has become much greater, and equally much more of a challenge than I'd first considered. It has taken me a while, but I've realised the challenge is not in the setting up of the platform, but how to bring out the change necessary in the learning culture of the school that would make it work. There are lots of schools with lots of VLEs that sit dormant, or that are only used by a select few. I made it my challenge to get the learners to make it a part of their learning process in school, and more importantly out of school. For me building a digital platform would enable the students to access the bespoke resources we create for them at a time that suits, and in a location that's comfortable. It's not necessarily been about e-portfolios and buying in expensive looking software packages, but it's been a journey of finding out how students like to work, tapping in to the learning needs and styles of the 'Facebook' generation, and trying to bring out a shift in the learning culture that has operated for so long in schools.
I've learned about how key people, and sometimes not-so-key people can resist any scent of change, no matter how subtle, and how I've had to use what I've learned to try and develop strategies in overcoming the problems, with varying levels of success. I've sought out allies, colleagues who I trust and respect, and have bounced ideas around, and I've gone back to the drawing board several times.
What I've discovered on this course has opened my eyes just a tiny amount to what it takes to move into positions of leadership in a school. Things that I've not encountered before, experiences I've not been prepared for, and a self-imposed pressure and desire to succeed have made it a worthwhile experience. Of course, any advice of getting people to use the VLE are always welcome!