In schools, my particular focus is working with middle leaders and leadership teams in support of their roles as leaders of learning. This involves assisting them to develop a shared understanding of the kind of learning outcomes and learning experiences they want for their students, and a serious consideration of students’ views of those experiences. The answers are often surprising!
People who move into system roles after a successful career in schools often find the transition difficult. This should not really come as a surprise when you consider the new skills called on by a system role: adult learning and capacity building; consultancy; review and evaluation; coaching and mentoring; difficult conversations; and even a deeper understanding of the nature of systems of schools, and how to improve them. These are some of the areas I can explore with system personnel as they work to increase their own capacity.
I’ve been involved in teacher and leader professional development for over thirty years in a multiplicity of roles. Over the last few years I have engaged with professional learning that has ranged from basics of leadership for the Diocese of Aitape in PNG (pro bono) to building facilitation skills for contributing to the national Plenary for the Diocese of the Northern territory, to exploring appraisal processes for various schools and systems such as Edmund Rice Education Australia and working with my good friend and colleague Brother Aengus Kavanagh in facilitating the principals’ retreats for 2018 and 2019 in Bathurst Diocese.
I’ve developed a personal approach to coaching and mentoring over many years of leading teams and departments. This is premised on a firm commitment to building confidence and expanding capacity. During the last three years I have been closely engaged with senior leaders at Christian Brothers Lewisham, and in Brisbane Catholic Education as a leadership coach, and have assisted other schools in reviewing their work in this field.
In both coaching and working with groups, my approach is always to begin with the current reality, and to engage learners in an active exploration of possibilities. I bring current research to bear in a practical and accessible way. I leave long lectures and passive learners to others!