Maggie Reid – Awhinatanga: Nurturing talents

Deputy principal Maggie Reid talks about what her school does to give potential leaders a chance to build the skills they need to support other teachers.



One of the things that I have also learnt through that was I was talking to other principals. They were sharing with me the way that they identify leaders in their schools and how they grow their leaders. So through talking to them it was sort of extending my knowledge and thinking about the ways that I do or I don’t look for leaders in a school as well. All of the people that I spoke to also acknowledged how you can identify a leader, but you also need to be able to support them. And I think that that’s one of the things that I’ve had all the way through. Through the principals that I have worked with, they’ve presented a challenge to me but also been there to support me. And I think for me that’s been really important. You can identify a leader as from classroom teacher and they might think that they’re a really good classroom practitioner, but once they get into leadership, if they don’t have that support they might not actually flourish.

So looking at the different ways in that that you identify too is what other principals spoke to me about. For myself, I think because I was identified earlier than I thought I would have been, they could see my potential and so encouraged me from present school and from previous schools I’d been at. I know myself that I need the next challenge and I think the principals that I’ve worked with have also seen that, and so have put me into situations which have improved my leadership skills. Whether it’s been as a tutor teacher for teachers or whether it has been looking after a team of teachers so all of this has built up my leadership skills all the way through.

For the project that I did when I was doing my thesis and that too the research also shows that you need to support somebody in their leadership. If you are not supporting them and they fail, well it’s actually you that’s failed as well. It’s not just the teacher or the leader whoever you’ve put into that position. Presently at our school we have emerging leaders and we’ve put a very strong support system around them as well, so that they’re identified and they come up with a project but they need that support as well. It’s a many faceted way that we support them it might be through the principal, it might be through myself or it might be through somebody also who has a particular knowledge that they can share with them.

Discussion starters

These discussion starters invite school staff to think about how their school supports emerging leaders.

  1. Do leadership roles in our school emphasise professional roles to strengthen teaching and learning or are they administrative roles?
  2. Do we give all interested teachers a chance to be chosen for leadership opportunities (as opposed to ‘shoulder tapping’)?
  3. Do we encourage teachers to set career goals and support them to identify steps to achieve their goals?
  4. Are we “talent spotters”? Do we look for ways to extend teachers and other staff who may be ready to take on leadership responsibilities in addition to their classroom responsibilities?
  5. Are we aware of the leadership skills that we need to improve our school effectiveness? Any strengths or gaps?
  6. Do we have a development strategy to build the skills we need? (e.g. encouraging specific professional learning in areas such as inquiry into teaching, coaching and mentoring skills…)
  7. Are people supported to carry out new leadership roles or just left to get on with it?
  8. How might we support emerging leaders so that they are successful in new roles without impacting adversely on their enthusiasm for their classroom responsibilities?

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