Ako: Being a learner

Leaders who take their own learning seriously and keep their own passion for learning alive act as important role models for their schools. Keeping up to date with the evidence for professional leadership in schools is a fundamental expectation of principals and leaders who aspire to principalship.

Ako is about building collaborative learning and teaching relationships within the school. It suggests a reciprocal approach to leading learning. When principals demonstrate ako, all members of the school community participate in identifying significant issues and solving problems. Students, teachers, leaders, and the community together can contribute to the collective knowledge base of the school.

Principals are expected to have a depth of professional knowledge. They are expected to make good decisions and exercise sound judgement. Their work contributes to growing the knowledge and expertise of the profession. Keeping up-to-date with the evidence for professional leadership in schools is a fundamental expectation of principals. To support them in this, principals need opportunities to reflect and learn. They need access to quality information about all aspects of school leadership.

Principals who take their own learning seriously and keep their own passion for learning alive act as important role models for their schools. There is a crucial link between a principal’s own development of critical thinking, their engagement with professional learning, and their ability to be an educational leader. Becoming a principal involves stepping up and using professional knowledge and experience to improve the teaching and learning of all students.

Effective principals have in place their own professional learning programme to help inform their thinking and practice, and to keep them up-to-date with issues and developments in education generally. This learning is sometimes done alone, with a respected colleague, with a local principals’ group, through participation in principal development initiatives, or as study for further qualifications.

From Kiwi Leadership for Principals – Qualities 

Related links

Leadership roles

Whenu - key roles of leadership in Tū Rangatira (English)

Ngā whenu – ngā tūranga mātāmua o te kaitātaki in Tū Rangatira (Māori)

New Zealand reports

Leadership practices

This report looks into the leadership practices of experienced principals.

NZCER, 2011

Professional supervision

This report looks into professional supervision for principals.

University of Auckland, 2009

New Zealand stories

Ako in action – leaders talk about their learning

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