Coaching & Leadership Development
How does Coaching support School Improvement?

How does Coaching support School Improvement?

This blog comes from our associate coach, organisational expert and former school governor, Ben Gibbs. ‘The fallacy of rationalism is the assumption that the social world can be altered by logical argument. The problem, as George Bernard Shaw observed, is that “reformers have the idea that change can be achieved by brute sanity”.’ Michael Fullan (1991)   One of coaching’s greatest achievements over the last 30 years is to have moved the focus of leadership development from an over-emphasis on decision-making and rational authority, towards a model which prioritises understanding and empathy; from IQ to EQ (emotional intelligence), if you like.   Arguably, one of coaching’s greatest strengths is its focus on the individual and the development of their personal and professional capacity; it’s ability to provide a space in which the soul can emerge as a guide to practice.   It is possible as a coach, however, to go further than this, and to have an impact beyond the individual. Coaching can be used as a form of organisational consultancy; of school improvement.   Present challenges   The challenges faced by all organisations – including schools – which operate in contexts defined by the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of the 21st century, cannot be addressed by heroic individual leaders.   In fact, the speed of technological, environmental, economic and organisational change makes a mockery of the very idea of the heroic leader; that lone ranger, setting an example through individual endeavour and inspiring followership through sheer force of personality (backed by the threat of the pistol in his holster!).   Leadership is now a collective act which requires...
Why the NPQH fails to prepare new Heads

Why the NPQH fails to prepare new Heads

  Even though it was now many years ago, I remember one of my first school visits as an NPQH Tutor. I had been assigned as a tutor for a Deputy, who was hoping to secure headship within a year of completing her NPQH.   Her school served a neighbourhood that I knew well, bordering as it did the borough of Lambeth where I had been a Head. Her school faced many similar challenges to ones my school had faced:   – Social and economic disadvantage – Low student achievement – Lack of resources and funding etc.   In just a year, the expectation of the NPQH was that through study; face to face and online, peer group development days, tutor support and the completion of a  school-based assignment, my aspiring Head would be prepared for Headship.   It took me less than 30 mins sitting with my aspiring Head to ‘assess’ that this would not be the case. She was stressed. She was tired. She had spent an inordinate amount of hours collecting and analysing data for her school based-based assignment. She’d poured over interviews with staff and pupils and extracted what she believed to be key evidence for supporting her school improvement work.   Yet as she sat and talked me through her assignment, there was no light in her eyes, no fire in her belly, no passion for the role she was aspiring to.   Headship requires inner fuel   Now, if there’s one thing I know about Headship, there has to be an inner fuel, an inner fire/desire for the role. The job is hard enough as...
What does it mean to be an Anti-Racist Teacher?

What does it mean to be an Anti-Racist Teacher?

This blog comes from the principal of Mission High School in San Francisco, Pirette McKamey.   Ask black students who their favourite teacher is, and they will joyfully tell you.  Ask them what it is about their favourite teacher, and most will say some version of this: “They know how to work with me”. So much is in that statement.   It means that these students want to work, that they see their teachers as partners in the learning process, and that they know the teacher-student relationship is one in which they both have power. In other words, black students know that they bring intellect to the classroom, and they know when they are seen.   As the principal of San Francisco’s Mission High School and an anti-racist educator for more than 30 years, I have witnessed countless black students thrive in classrooms where teachers see them accurately and show that they are happy to have them there.   In these classes, students choose to sit in the front of the class, take careful notes, shoot their hands up in discussions, and ask unexpected questions that cause the teacher and other classmates to stop and think. Given the chance, they email, text, and call the teachers who believe in them. In short, these students are everything their families and community members have raised and supported them to be.   I have seen some of these very same students walk into another teacher’s classroom, go to the last row of desks, and put their head down. I have seen them sit frozen in their seat, staring at an assignment—when earlier I...
What is Values-Based Leadership – Expert Interview

What is Values-Based Leadership – Expert Interview

This expert interview comes from Executive Coach and Integrity Coaching Associate, Pat Joseph.   What is Values-Based Leadership?   Values based leadership is when leaders draw on both their own core values and the negotiated and defined values of the work organisation for guidance and motivation.   Values-based school leaders are transparent about sharing and communicating their values and in helping their staff and pupils to connect to their own core values and those of the community they serve and learn within.   Values-based leadership is described by Richard Barrett, author of Building a Values-Driven Organisation, as “…a way of making authentic decisions that builds trust and commitment.”   Research tells us that values-based leadership is most effective when these values are ‘truly lived’ by the leadership team who model these values in their everyday attitude, approach, behaviours and decision-making.   This demonstrates their inherent commitment to their values in a real and observable way and encourages the whole of the organisation to make choices to internalise and act out of these values. As a consequence, these values become the “moral compass “that puts people before processes; helps our problem solving and guides our decision making about what is the right thing to do even when it might not be the easiest thing to do.   What role has values-based leadership played in your career?   Values are at the heart of our identity – they guide and enable us to show up as our best selves and they help us to know when things are not in alignment with our own integrity.   As a black woman, who started her career...
Knowing Oneself – 3 Tips to Effective Self-Reflection

Knowing Oneself – 3 Tips to Effective Self-Reflection

  This expert thinkpiece comes from Executive Coach and Integrity Coaching Associate, Mark Bisson.   It is part of the human condition to be introspective and to have a desire to gain a better understanding of ourselves.   Indeed, as many great thinkers throughout history have noted, it is precisely our self-consciousness and our ability to know ourselves, that sets us apart from other species on the planet.   As a professional coach, I have seen how it can be one of the most powerful tools for personal development for my clients.   As British psychotherapist Alison Rickard puts it, our reflective thinking can be “the combined voice of the best teacher and supervisor we ever had”.   On a personal level, it has been an essential component of my continuous learning journey. It has provided me with some valuable insights about myself and has enhanced my understanding of others both in my professional life and in my personal relationships.   As I have developed my reflective practice throughout the last few decades, I have learnt three key secrets to effective self-reflection…   1) Open up and be willing to take action   Effective self-reflection has at its core a willingness to be open with oneself; to allow oneself to dig deep and critically consider the inner workings of one’s minds, habits and behaviours.   This openness creates a space for messages to come forward, whether these are words, images, colours or emotions, and can allow you to build a deeper understanding of yourself and your unconscious mind.   However, as Twentieth century Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire says, that “reflection...