Leadership activities

Leading change

Middle and senior leaders are actively involved in change management, either as initiators or as part of a team implementing change (Moore, 2007). They contribute to the joint ownership of any change by communicating requirements to those involved and negotiating the processes and support needed to implement the change.

Leading change is complex and involves a number of stages (Fullan, Cuttress, and Kilcher, 2005). As agents of change, middle and senior leaders need:

  • information about, and involvement in, implementing the school vision and strategic intent;
  • current, evidence-based information about effective approaches to teaching, learning, and assessment;
  • a sound understanding of how change processes work and how people respond to change;
  • insight into teachers’ current beliefs and practices (in order to help them engage with new ways of working);
  • relationships based on trust, so that staff feel supported and understood;
  • an awareness of the school’s capacity for change;
  • strategies for handling resistance to change.

Case study 4

Leading pedagogical change

Carol Jarrett, Head of English, Kelston Girls’ College, uses the teaching as inquiry approach in her department to investigate what she labels “problems of practice”.

Case study 5

Distributed leadership and manaakitanga

Hurae White, Deputy Principal, describes the leadership structure at Nawton School as "distributed”. Teachers from each syndicate are represented in the leadership team, creating a collaborative approach within the school.

Problem solving

Problem-solving activity can be routine, or in response to a crisis, or part of strategic efforts to address an endemic issue. Middle and senior leaders contribute to problem solving by working collaboratively and using an evidence-based approach – identifying, testing assumptions, analysing, and solving. If there are new insights, or situations that have not arisen before, solutions may be innovative and involve a level of risk taking.

Whole teams may be involved. Solutions should align with the school’s vision and policies.

To develop problem-solving capabilities within the school, effective leaders look for opportunities to solve problems collaboratively and mentor new leaders with problem-solving responsibilities. Collaboration extends to managing risk by anticipating problems and agreeing on strategies.

 When problems relate to student progress, middle and senior leaders collaborate with family, whānau, and caregivers to agree on and implement solutions. If changes in practice are needed to address disparity in student outcomes, middle and senior leaders may need to negotiate with teachers or teams who are reluctant to change.

Crisis management in schools is primarily the responsibility of experienced senior leaders. They develop strategies for handling confrontations, fights, aggressive intruders, and other crises. Effective leaders invite feedback on their strategies and take time to reflect on their handling of incidents.

Tell a colleague | Back to top