Sunday, August 12, 2012

The vacuum left by the lack of strong leadership

The difficulty of generating genuine momentum in a school is often underestimated.  There are key events in a school year that can undermine any attempts at real change:

The start of the school year is a busy time, bedding down classes, getting courses started and finalised, organising small groups.
Identification and creation of semester one resources and assessment
By week four or five behaviour issues tend to arise as students become more confident with how far they can push boundaries and these boundaries need reset.
Mid term reports start about week 10.
Preparation for first semester exams, followed by exams
Semester 1 reporting
Reallocation of students failing subjects
Identification and creation of semester two resources and assessment
Senior School subject selection for year 10/11 and course counselling
Student references
Mock and ATAR exams
Semester two exams
Semester 2 reporting.

Any new projects need to have staff with capacity to commit to a new project.  IWB's don't get installed and implemented without leadership.  Laptops don't get used miraculously.  Tablets are just plastic without knowing how they can be used.  National curriculum doesn't just happen any more than NCOS was a cakewalk back during that implementation.  Kids don't turn up to after school classes for long without engaging materials and presenters.  EPW's don't get written, online tutorials and environments don't get made and students don't get the additional help that they need because taking people to task about their output is too hard and it's easier to load up those willing to have a go.

When leadership models fail, nobody knows who is doing what and what their load is - or worse still there is little care as long as "my" task is being done.  Flat management is prone to this - with everyone busy yet with little prioritisation being done at any level - there is no focus on schoolwide goals.  The loudest person gets their task done, anyone that raises a hand to say that there are higher priorities gets told it's the same for everyone - just get my task done.  At worst, the place just drifts along on platitudes and mediocrity.

I've come to the conclusion that the "it's the same for everyone" is garbage.  Poor management makes no attempt to rectify this.  They may make token attempts to acknowledge those working hard, but saying thanks does not make up for the extra hours required to "just keep things rolling along" and can take the gloss off a rewarding career.

This is where I am today, thinking.. well.. there's a lot that needs doing, yet the need to do them is not a priority by the school.  I'm not going to spend 10-15 hours each weekend indefinitely developing the math programme (five years is enough) without some compromise happening somewhere.  With a young baby and a three year old it is not sustainable any more.