Professional Responsibility: Words Hurt

Dear Katie,

I feel compelled to write to you following your tweet yesterday as it has caused a lot of unrest in my #PLN and has featured in conversations with different I have connected with in the last 24 hours.

I am glad to see it has been removed by Twitter, this morning, a day after you posted it, following multiple complaints, but it alarms me that it took the platform and those who monitor it so long.

The fact your tweet was liked by 5k and retweeted by 10k reminds of me how the London Riots were incited via social media. To you a flippant tweet of 140 characters, to others an endorsement or an affirmation of racial hatred,  cultural ignorance and religious prejudice.

You need to remember that your words hurt as they land. You need to be mindful of your professional responsibility. You need to imagine what would happen if each person in our society felt and spoke like this.  You need to acknowledge that we are global citizens.

Katie Hopkins 3.png

Why was I affronted by your tweet?

As a Tweeter:

You need to appreciate that you have 106k followers and when you share a tweet like that, whether you intend to or not, you are influencing the thinking of those who follow you. You are a role model for many and you need to take this responsibility seriously. Your actions and behaviours influence others; they can have a positive or a negative impact and this tweet encourages others to be intolerant and disrespectful of others.

As a Teacher:

You need to understand that if you were a student in a school you would have been excluded for such language. You have a responsibility as an adult, as a parent and as a carer, to model the behaviours we expect in our young people. As a school leader, I have had to deal with Muslim students being racially abused on the bus and physically assaulted in the street as  a result of conversations like this.

As a Headteacher:

You need to acknowledge that you have abused your position and taken advantage of your sphere of influence. If you were one of my parents we would have had a formal conversation about the values of our community: diversity, equality and inclusion as your tweet compromises each of them. As schools we promote positive role models who will inspire and empower our young people. The advent of social media and reality TV challenge us every day in steering our next generation in the right direction. We educate our children to love and not to hate. Your tweet undermines this.

As a Human:

You need to show some empathy for the families of everyone concerned in the incidents you refer to. You need to show some respect for a religion and the religious practice of fasting.  You need to show some compassion for the wider Muslim community who are being judged by the behaviours of a few. Your tweet isolates and marginalises the masses by the actions of a few. By calling Muslims ‘sods’ you diminish our fellow humans and your reference to turning ‘nasty’ when they are hungry implies they are wild animals.

I really hope this picture will make you reflect on the repercussions  that acts of terrorism have on our society. Moreover, to consider the ripples on different communities when anatagonistic comments like yours are made.

Our world is in disarray: we don’t need any more hate, we need love.

Human Chain

Perhaps  it would be helpful to have a refresher of the hate crime laws as many of us who saw the tweet felt like you were intentionally trying to incite others.

Educators have a responsibility under Prevent to educate our young people about how to safeguard themselves from terrorism:

Prevent

But we equally have a responsibility to educate our young people about their rights and how to stay safe online, if a school child had showed us this tweet we would have investigated it and reported it:

Review of Hate Crime        Report a Hate Crime

hate crime.png

You probably will not read this post but by reporting your tweet, challenging your behaviour and engaging in the conversations on twitter there has been some good that has come out of it:

  • There has been a sense of collective responsibility around challenging your behaviour.
  • There has been pressure on twitter to monitor such tweets and remove them/ block the tweeters.
  • There has been a renewed solidarity as it has encouraged more educators to find out more about Ramadam.
  • There has been a commitment by many to engage in the Ramadam celebrations to show their support:

Amjad’s Post on StaffRm      Ramadam – Dusk and Dawn

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The educators who reported the tweet and who challenged the behaviours as it is a collective responsibility.

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • I have re-read Amjad’s post – with a diverse school community at Aureus School – we need to make sure that we are educating our young people about different religious practices.

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • My #PLN who lead their lives by similar values to mine.

Leaning In: On Tables, Meetings & Chairs

I love thinking, and learning, about things; big and small.

I have blogged, and will blog again, about the profound learning experience I had in the Canadian mountains at #uLead17, but this blog is a game changer in its simplicity.

Tables. Have you every considered the shape of the table you are meeting around?

On a panel this week one of my new #sheroes, Jane Danvers, the Principal of the Wilderness School in Adelaide, spoke passionately about the difference between round table and square table meetings.

We strive to separate the leadership from our management in the UK and she has nailed it by sitting her senior team around different shaped tables, physically and metaphorically.

Round table meetings are for leadership, they are strategic and are for questioning, for crowd-sourcing ideas and for blue sky thinking.  Round tables are for exploring the macro questions for the long term.

Square table meetings are for management, they are operational and are for solution finding, for practical discussions around systems. Square tables are for addressing the micro questions for the short to medium term.

This distinction in defining spaces to frame discussions is so simple but sets the tone of the meeting.

To add to this, I visited a school in Calgary on Thursday. Jason Rogers the Principal of Rundle College starts every meeting, every briefing and every staff training by referencing the empty chair at the table.

The empty chair reminds everyone present of who is absent – the child. The symbolism of the empty chair ensures that all dialogue is child-centred.

This metaphor has become a physical symbol around the school as the art department have constructed huge wooden chairs which the children have painted as part of the outdoor furnishings – they are so big a whole class can perch in them. Jason does video addresses when he misses events sat in one of them.

empty chair

Both Headteachers have created values-led cultures, both have created teams who are cohesive and aligned by their principles. I will be ‘magpie-ing’ both ideas. So simple yet so symbolic.

I couldn’t blog about tables, chairs and meetings without mentioning Sheryl Sandberg and leaning in. We know that we need to make sure that women and girls have a seat at the table, and when they do pull in a chair that they need to fully lean in and speak at the table too.

sit at the table

A picture that went viral recently was of the Republican Party’s round table about reproduction – a discussion about motherhood where the female voice was noticeably absent. It caused a stir on twitter as we asked ‘Who thought that it was okay to have no women present to discuss this issue’?

republican party

To counter this I found a hilarious image on instagram where the Dogs’ Committee are meeting to discuss the future of cats! A timely reminder of diversity, equality and inclusion depicted in a humorous way?!

dogs meeting

I have sat at a lot of leadership tables in the last few years where there has been no equality, nor diversity. As times and teams have changed, more women have leaned in and more diverse faces have been represented, but it is noticeable that behaviours around some of the tables have not changed to reflect this.

How inclusive are the tables that you sit at? How inclusive are the meetings that you participate in or chair? Are diverse voices contributing to the conversations and are these voices being heard?

I often notice in meetings the dominance of certain voices, the position of power in the room, the participants who make make eye contact and those who do not, the participants who address the power in the room and those who diminish some contributions or take the credit for contributions made by others.

Meetings can be very cliquey spaces, entrenched in who sits where and expecting everyone to conform to the conventions of group think.

Meeting both of these Headteachers has challenged me to consider the meetings I attend and chair moving forwards, ensuring that they have purpose and are as inclusive as possible.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • Meeting inspiring leaders who have challenged my thinking and shared their best practice.

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • I am thinking lots about bias for #WomenEd and #BAMEed – will try and find if there are articles for bias in meetings.

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • 10 days in Canada and Banff mountain air to clear my head for the next term as Headteacher Designate, my final one before I become a Headteacher proper with a building, staff, students and parents!

Ethical & Principled Leadership: Vision, Values, Voice & Virtue

I have been thinking, reflecting and discussing leadership a lot over the last few years. I have reflected on the leader I have become, the leader that I thought I would become and the future leaders who I want to develop and shape, staff and students alike. I have never liked labels nor boxes. I have always sat between ideologies and arguments, drawing on the aspects that resonate and disregarding the components that I am not aligned with.

I am not a conformist. I am a collaborator. I am not a game player. I do what is right, even when it makes me unpopular, and when it is challenging.  It has frustrated me over the years that I have worked with those who are territorial and do not appreciate the need for collaborative partnership and system leadership. It has frustrated me that I have worked with those who have focused on the outcomes, competing with each other and playing the system, rather than focusing on the process through which we achieve the outcomes.

We become teachers due to a moral imperative to serve. But, we have all watched teachers become leaders and shed their morals. We have seen the tipping point of leaders who ‘sell their soul to the devil’. We know there are high stakes. We know we are accountable. But, we also know that the system will never change unless we change it from within.

This is why the Headteachers Roundtable brings me hope. This is why Whole Education brings me hope. This is why the Leading Women’s Alliance brings me hope. This is why grassroots movements like #WomenEd and #BAMEed being me hope. Times are changing. Trailblazers are challenging the system. I have been inspired to my core in the last few weeks as I have engaged in the #GreatSchools annual conference for Whole Education, the #HTRTSummit, the #SeizingOpportunities summit and numerous Diversity Matters panels at #BETT17 and #Teach2017.

My core values are my compass point. They are my moral driver. They are also my engine room, as they sustain my energy levels to stay focused, to commit to the big picture, to keep going, even when the going gets tough.

With everything going on in the world right now. With everything going on in the UK right now. With everything going on in the education system right now. We need ethical, principled, values-led school leaders now, more than ever. When we lead with virtue, when values, voice and vision are aligned, then we lead authentically with integrity. This is the leader I am and will continue to be. These are the leaders I want to work with and want to shape.   Through my recruitment process for Aureus School I want to talent-spot the teachers and the leaders who want to work collaboratively, as a team, underpinned by their values. These are the leaders who are resilient and motivated for change as their values strengthen their conviction and their commitment.

I was looking for theory and research to underpin my believe in values-led leadership when Kerry Jordan Daus tweeted about Principled Leadership, a label I was not aware of. I did some research and found the below figure of the ‘4-V model’. Developed by Dr. Bill Grace, the 4-V Model of Ethical Leadership demonstrates the four sides of ethical leadership. The 4-V Model of Ethical Leadership is a framework that aligns the internal factors, i.e. the beliefs and values, with the external factors, i.e. the behaviors and actions, in service of approaching the common good.

ethical-4

The 4 sides of  ethical leadership, include: values, vision, voice and virtue. To develop ethical leadership, we as leaders need to begin with understanding our individual core values. Our vision is our ability as leaders to behave and act within the frame of our values. Our voice is how we articulate our vision and use it to motivate action. Our virtue, is our belief in the common good, it is fostered through ethical, principled leadership. Virtuous behavior is when we live our values, when we strive to do the right thing.

Dr. Grace, the founder of the 4-V model,  identifies three additional key elements to ethical leadership: service, polis and renewal. Our service connects our vision to our values, which means that when our values are tested through our service, that our vision is often revealed. Polis, standing for politics, indicates that our schools are engaged in the art of politics when voice is given to vision in the public context. Renewal is the territory where voice returns to values, illustrates that since voice can be expressed in various ways, us as the leaders should regularly consider whether our actions are consistent with our values and our vision.

(The Center for Ethical Leadership, 2014).

As Andy Hargreaves presented on collaborative leadership and the need for leaders who champion diversities at Whole Education’s #GreatSchools; as Carol Jones contextualised leadership in 2017 at the Leading Women’s Alliance #SeizingOpportunities Summit and advocated the need for values-led decision makers; and as Laura McInerney and Helen Lewis discussed bold leadership and how we articulate and amplify our voices as school leaders at the #HTRTsummit; I felt something inside me shift. My values are strong, but I felt them galvanise for action.  Both events filled me with hope. Hope for the future of our schools, for the future of school leadership.

For me hope is built on: Principled leadership; Ethical leadership; Values-led leadership. Our school system needs these leaders. Our children need these leaders. These are the leaders who will collectively stabilise the chaos that we currently find our world in.

Imagine if all of our schools were led in this way. Imagine if all of our leaders made decisions based on what was right for the children and the community, rather than succumbed to the pressures of the system and the accountabilities. Imagine if the leaders who remained in the system, who were not chewed up and spat out, were the leaders who did not sell their soul to the devil. Just imagine.

ethical

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The impact that the Headteachers’ Roundtable will have on the school system

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • The Heads Roundtable’s Green Paper
  • The Spirals of Enquiry and communities of collaborative enquiry that Whole Education champion

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Carol Jones for helping to shape my values-led leadership journey
  • Kerry Jordan-Daus for sign posting me to find our more about Principled Leadership
  • The HTRT core group who created a really special event this week and modelled Ethical Leadership
  • The Diverse Leaders panellists – thank you to Allana, Amjad, Bennie, Bukky, Jess, Mahlon and Martin – who contributed to the Diversity Matters panels at #BETT17 and #Teach2017 – continue leading with authenticity and integrity as the tide is changing