Three of us have just returned from our first NT trip for 2010.
As usual we have had a wonderful time, from Darwin, Gove Nhulunbuy and Katherine.
Working with children from across the world including of course our own indigenous children and families.
We are always struck by the amazing commitment of teachers wherever we travel and work. Having been in Tassie the week before and the ACT and NSW the week before that and of course being based in Victoria, we see such tremendous demonstration of true determination to continue to improve education, teaching and learning for children right across Australia.
What impresses us most is that schools, leaders, parents, teachers, are doing this, day in day out, without the fanfare of media releases, political spin, photo opportunities or polling motivations.
Communities that keep boxes of shoes for children to wear as they arrive at school each day so the children have something to wear during their school day. Schools that provide breakfast programs from their own funds because the government funds have dried up. Teachers that stay back after the children have long gone home, sometimes until 9pm at night after having arrived at 6am in the morning so that they can prepare additional resources and be extra ready for the particular needs of the children and families that are part of that community.
The schools that have run out of PD money so they pick us up themselves and drive for hours so they can access us our expertise and support in order to continue to provide themselves with updates on research and good practices ever in search of improving and enhancing their teaching and learning.
Principals who are clear in the direction they wish and need to travel and provide that clarity to their staff, their parents, their students and to the wider community. Who are unambiguous in the teaching and learning that needs to occur.
Staff and teaching teams who are already accredited in WLA and who still recognise the need for ongoing mentoring and growth as there is always the need for continued learning as teacher.
All across this country we see such dedication.
I am reminded of an assistant principal once a few years ago who made a wise pronouncement when asked if one day she would ever consider becoming a principal.
She said, “no, i am a very good administrator and manager, but i am not a good leader, i do not have the vision or the direction or the passion required to lead. There is a big difference between managing and leading.”
In our work with schools i have to say how very true and wise those words are. We see that distinction very starkly and clearly in our travels.
The great leaders of schools are the ones where the philosophy and pedagogy of the school is clear to everyone and the rigor or the teaching and learning is second to none.
The school’s without great leadership is often were we see a lack of consistency in teaching and learning across a school and a great lack of clarity and direction.
Leadership is everything in a school and without it, there is great cause for concern.
I was asked at a conference for Catholic school principals the other day, “What comment do you have for principals, what word of advice could you offer or do you think principals need to hear?”
This was my reply;
“Principals need to be expert in curriculum, educational philosophy and pedagogy. Administration, budgets etc are not what leads a rigorous teaching and learning community.”