Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Practical application of effective leadership

Today we wrote the test to help us stream the year 9's into year 10 classes for next year effectively. We decided on two one hour exams testing number facts & space/Measurement then Algebra and problem solving.

If I was to write the two exams, I'd have to sit with the outcomes, read half a dozen books to find questions that adequately test the outcomes, do the test, record how long it would take me, estimate how long it will take students, re-evaluate the order of the questions, write a marking key, ensure that the test adequately covers the material originally intended and then two days has passed with little sleep.


Our curriculum leader wrote the exam on a bit of paper off the top of his head, completed the answer key, allocated marks, I typed it up and it was done in two hours. Looking at it, it is far better than what I could have done alone. I worry that the difficulty level is a little high but I am happy to see what happens. If the students underachieve it will be easier to show their progress by the end of year 10 next year.

Experience always tells. There is no doubt, when writing the exam, in the instant between brain and hand, he had done all the things that I would have had to do; and even if I had written the exam knowing that our curriculum leader would look over it and make suggestions is a relief and takes away some of the pressure. Having someone you respect looking over things can make the difference between a new idea being accepted or rejected out of hand. That level of support and challenge is so necessary in your early years.

It is more than just experience though.

We have come up with a heap of hair brained schemes that you could see he doubted would be effective, but rather than dismissing them out of hand, he let us try. Sure enough, some of them had limited effect, but others have helped us understand the students better (like morning classes), others helped organise classes more efficiently (using more common assessment tasks and assessment schedules), others aim to assist students next year (like regrouping the 10's into their COS classes in term 4), helping us by bailing us out of duty when we have over committed (and need extra time to spend with students) and support our school wide initiatives (like a marks book for all classes or detailed programmes for junior school).

Earlier in the year we had moderation and intervention was needed to make sure the material we were presenting was demonstrative of our performance. The material I had prepared was inadequate and he suggested a number of things we had to do with presenting assessment prior to moderation, fixed the issues and our course was judged spot on.

Experienced staff commonly know who to talk to, what procedure is required, how long something will take for approval and what shortcuts are possible. They can save embarrassment from suggesting an idea that has been tried and failed or an idea that is unsuitable for a number of unthought of reasons.

Experienced staff tend to know what resources work and can lay their hands on them - in maths this is especially true with logic puzzle/investigation/problem solving activities that are hard to source.

Our curriculum leader likes to come into my room and takes great pleasure in finding mistakes with my board work (not one of my favourite habits) - but... I'd rather someone that had a clue than someone that didn't care enough to check that the senior school teachers are doing the right thing.

So to sum it up.. good leaders have superior content sequencing & resource knowledge (expert power), be willing to intervene where required and advocate to senior management for junior staff (management expertise), have respect of fellow staff (be charismatic), understand process (administrative expertise) and encourage risk taking (be entrepreneurial).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi, thanks for leaving a comment.. it's good to hear what people think!