Values-led Leadership: Moving from Surviving to Thriving

It has been a busy week! I have been to 4 edu-events this week: Ambition School Leadership graduation/ celebration for Teaching Leaders; DFE Diversity and Equalities Roundtable; Diverse Leaders ‘Seizing Opportunities’ day and #SRock18. Each event has connected me with fabulous new educators, made me think and deepened my vision and values for education. I am knackered from the travelling but it has been a great week so I am still buzzing!

On Tuesday night I keynoted for a cohort of Middle Leaders on my values-led leadership journey. On Saturday I ran a workshop at #SRocks18 for a group of educators on the same theme and expanded the experiences I shared by building in reflection and discussion points on how to be a values-led educator.

These are the tips I shared at the end of the session – the things I wish I had known earlier in my career, the insights I have gained through my tumultuous leadership journey over the last few years:Slide29

I opened my session by asking the room of educators who were voluntarily at a grassroots event on a Saturday, to consider where on the continuum of surviving to thriving they currently were.

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I shared my experience of hitting the wall a few years ago. Having a panic attack in my office at work one day. Realising that something needed to change. I felt a shift in the room, the relief at acknowledging we all go through this at some point in our career, we all feel overwhelmed, we question whether we have the resilience and the tenacity to continue. I gave them some hope, that you do come through it, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You just need to find the strength to make the change, and to weather the storm.

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I shared my experience of losing myself in my role. Of losing sight of Hannah the person, who had become soley Hannah the educator. I reflected on how I had become a chess piece on someone else’s chess set and how much this frustrated me. I shared how I had recalibrated, realigned, reframed through coaching and encouraged everyone to go and find a  coach and to share the free DFE coaching pledge for women leading in education with their colleagues.

The coaching model I have personally got the most from is the Graydin approach of coaching the person, not the problem, and starting with the heart not the head. The Heart, Head, Step model is a 3-part strategy to finding solutions.

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We moved on to reflecting on our Why for being an educator and used the Simon Sinek ‘Golden Circle’ model to consider our core values. I challenged them to consider if their core values were present in their current schools. I saw shoulders slump and heard a ripple of sighs around the room. I encouraged them to drill down to their non-negotiables as a frame for the culture and ethos they need to be able to thrive.  I saw a penny drop. For those seeking new roles and new contexts I suggested that this should be fundamental to how candidates select whether a school is the right ethos for them or not. I challenged them to prioritise that over the status and salary to find the right fit.

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I looped back to my journey and how my values had not been my beacon to guide me through a storm a few years ago because I had never really considered them before. Coaching has subsequently helped me to make sense of my why, to be able to articulate my values and to reflect on why I was frustrated. This epiphany helped me to get myself back on course and heading in the right direction. I paid homage to the strength I had drawn from the #womened community. With so many educators feeling disempowered, disenfranchised, it is the sense of community that our network has created that truly nourishes the soul.

I reminded them that our values are our moral compass, our vision is our beacon steering us through a storm. Our mission as educators is to survive the storm and make the journey. As Dr Jill Berry has spoken about on several occasions at our #womened events: “Rough seas make the best sailors…. Ships were not built to stay in the harbour”. As an English teacher I love this extended metaphor.

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Having survived the rough seas and refined my craft as  a sailor / as an educational leader, I moved on to discuss how I had researched and selected the culture and ethos I needed for my next move to move from surviving to thriving. I encouraged everyone to remember that in a profession that is under-recruiting and under-retaining, that there are more jobs than educators, so therefore the power is with those applying and being interviewed. We need to hold on to this power and get what we need from a new role.

I recruited my whole team through sharing my vision and values. I have blogged previously about how I designed a values-led application process. Skills and experience are important, but I wanted to get the right people on the bus. I needed to recruit a team of Ambassadors for the values we wanted to embody in our new school.

Moreover, in a time when everyone is talking about values and plastering them on their marketing/ painting them on their walls, we need to be careful interrogate how the values are being lived. Mary Myatt (in Hopeful Schools) talks about “values lived not laminated” and James Kerr (in Legacy) talks about “living your values out loud”. These 2 phrases resonate with me.

The values in our school are palpable. You can cut through the stick of Aureus rock anywhere in our community and you will experience a consistency in our shared vision and values.

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We have  invested a lot of time, energy and focus in scoping and embedding our values. Our values have been co-created, we all own them and drive them. Our children have an ethical vocabulary, our staff have a shared language.  Sue Webb, from VBE, led our values scoping day, I had to reconcile that not all of my values would resonate with my whole team, but my 3 non-negotiables: Diversity, Equality and Wellbeing would be integral to our vision and culture. Pen Mendonca captured our values scoping today and created the metaphor of our values being our DNA at our STEAM school.

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In the final few minutes of our 45 minute session (I could have spent a whole day on this topic!) I shared what we had agreed to do and more importantly not to do at Aureus. We made some bold decisions early on about some fundamentals that underpin our culture and ethos. We have a very strong sense of who we are as a school and what we will and won’t do. With a shared vision, shared values and shared language, it makes strategic decision making easier.

Our school is wholeheartedly child-centred, we are committed to nurturing hearts and minds. We educate the whole child, holistically. We do not shy away from the Fierce Conversations. Our homily embodies everything that we are and I am excited to see my Drama Club deliver it in my ‘Love Without Labels’ assembly this week to introduce our new value of Love for February, and frame the LGBT+ month of activities.  They have learnt it off my heart and have created an action for each of our 12 values so that all of our students can visually see  what each value means to them.

So that was my whistle stop distillation of my learning from 2 years, captured in a 15 min keynote and a 45 min workshop. I hope that what I shared resonated with those who attended both events. Keeps those flames burning and remember, if you have hit the wall and find yourself barely surviving, change your school not your profession. Too many educators are leaving the system rather than trying a different context. Just be careful to select the culture and ethos that you need to ensure the conditions for your own personal and professional growth are present.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The pilot cohort of the Ambition School Leadership women-only NPQH in collaboration with Leading Women’s Alliance and #WomenEd has just been confirmed. 30 delegates have been offered a place on this bespoke pathway. We are excited to be supporting their progression.

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • I have a stack of books by my bed to take away with me over half-term to read on the beach.
  • I am currently thinking about the LP accreditation that launched this week – I will be focusing on oracy and developing public speaking skills in our students  – any linked to reading or research in this area would be gratefully received.

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Kristian Still, David Rogers and the team at One School, Hindhead, for organising #SROCKS18 and being brilliant hosts.
  • Ambition School Leadership for inviting me to speak to their Teaching Leaders cohort end of programme celebration.
  • Anna Cole for initiating the Diversity and Equalities roundtable at the DFE this week.
  • The Diverse Leaders Programme, co-led by my former colleagues Amy Anderson and Natasha Evans, 2nd cohort of #womened and #bameed participants who I met on Friday.

Diverse Educators: #BAMEed #DisabilityEd #LGBTEd #WomenEd

Yesterday, was a defining moment in my career.

I am still buzzing from the inspiring and empowering group of diverse educators who came to Aureus for the day for our inaugural Diverse Educators event.

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#BAMEed met #DisabilityEd met #LGBTed met #WomenEd. 4 grassroot movements and communities came together to connect, to collaborate. The power of the collective voice.

The impact we can have working together was how I framed the event.  I opened Diverse Educators asking everyone to share their Why. We then did a popcorn sharing of our motivation for getting out of bed early and travelling on a cold Saturday morning in January.

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My why:diverse 3

We know our identities are more complex than just our gender. We all wear multiple hats, we all have multiple labels as we define and own our complex identities. What do we have in common? We are all humans. Yesterday, we brought together a group of humans who care deeply about diversity, equality and inclusion.

My proposition was that each community, each movement could challenge their systemic, structural and societal barriers for their label, or we could join forces and be a stronger voice, a stronger community to smash through these glass ceilings and these concrete ceilings together. Moreover with the support of all of the organisations who supported the event as exhibitors and contributors.

A collective mission.  A collective voice. A collective impact.

 

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Each of the grassroots movements shared an update on the progress of their community  and the impact they have made to date:

#BAMEed are a year old and held their first event last May in Birmingham, their 2nd event is soon and they are planning their 3rd for June 2nd. Co-founded by Abdul, Allana, Amjad and Penny they are growing their network and profile. Find out by following them here. An offshoot of @BAMEednetwork is @TFBAMEcommunity co-founded by Jess and Mahlon. They also have a series of events on the horizon.

#DisabilityEd is new on the block and unfortunately Lynne Wareham who is pulling volunteers together was too unwell to join us yesterday to share plans. The sessions that took place started the conversation. More to follow on this one as the community of educators with a disability come forward and join forces.

#LGBTed did a soft launch yesterday and will have a hard launch, an event in the spring.  Co-founded by Daniel and Hannah they have combined forces with David Weston and @OutTeacher. They have  Claire Birkenshaw (first know UK Headteacher to transition whilst in post) as an advisor to make schools more trans aware. Find out more here.

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#WomenEd is now nearly 3 years old! Co-founded by 7 educators, we have 5 of us as national leaders (Me, Jules, Keziah, Sameena and Vivienne) and 60+ as regional leaders in the UK and a further 10 driving the agenda internationally. We are planning our 4th national unconference for Autumn 2018, we have just reached 16,000 followers, we were nominated for a national diversity award, we were named in the TES top 10 influencers and we have a book deal with SAGE education. It has been an epic year for the #womened community! We have also just launched @WomenEd_Tech and @WomenEdBookClub Find out more here.

The schedule of the day involved 8 workshops in 4 time slots, 32 facilitated workshops and learning conversations about how we can have impact in our schools for our learners, both staff and students.

At lunchtime there was a buzz in the air as we all made human connections. Collaborations were initiated and I am excited to see how these will develop.

We closed with a panel. A diverse panel. A panel like we should see at more edu-events. It really isn’t that hard to ensure that you represent the voices of the audience and the profession at our events, whether they are grassroots or mainstream. Alison, Claire, Anna, Jonathan and Shirley represented and explored ‘How can we create a cohesive and coherent strategy to ensure a more diverse workforce?’ They reflected and shared how we can move from our why, to our how and to our what.

 

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I asked everyone in the room to then pledge their ‘what’. What is it we can all do differently from Monday? What is we can contribute to drive the diversity agenda?

The reason why Diverse Educators primarily came about was due to yet another poster advertising yet another event with an all white, male line up. We must continue to challenge the ‘manels’ and the ‘wanels’! We must collectively challenge the lack of representation at a lot of events, as well as on SLTs, Governing and Trust boards.  We will not change the ‘pale, male, stale’ face of pockets of our profession unless we challenge and ask for change.

I lost track of how many of these events I saw last year. Equally I was invited to speak at 10 plus events last year about diversity. I challenged each event that when I realised I was the representative. There were not diverse faces on the line up, just my straight, white face and voice championing diversity! They didn’t seem to see the irony? Moreover, on the few events where there was a smidgen of diversity, the diverse voices were marginalised to the small stage and pigeonholed by their topic.

So, it only seemed right for Bennie, one of my fabulous DHTs to close the event for us.  Bennie wears all of the hats.

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She explored each of the labels she wears. Her speech was passionate, personal and reflective as she shared her dismay at realising that she had a disability – as if it wasn’t hard enough to be a woman, an Asian women and an Asian bisexual woman. Did she really now have to deal with being a disabled Asian bisexual woman. How many labels can one person cope with? How many glass ceilings can one educational leader smash through? Her upbeat voice and pragmatic approach gave hope to the audience that it is possible, if you find the right school, if you stay true to your values. Moreover if you lean in and embrace your authentic self and bring your whole self to school.

 

Before everyone left I played them a song. They wondered where I was taking them when Hugh Jackman appeared on the screen. But a song from his new film: This is Me, made all of the hairs stand up on my arms, my foot tap in and my heart beat. I will be using it in an assembly this half-term as the lyrics are so emotive and powerful.  The Power Pose is a source of strength for #womened, this song could be a source of strength, an anthem for our diverse educational community. Most importantly, our grassroots events are amazingly positive and uplifting, but the trolling has already started. I hope that everyone who joined us yesterday, physically and virtually, ignore the haters, take the lonely negative voices with a pinch of salt and tap into the support and positivity of the Diverse Educators community:

“Reach for the sun… Burst through the barriers… Don’t let them break you down to dust… This is me… I make no apologies… Look out here I come!”

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Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The impact this event will have on combining the communities and excited to already be thinking about Diverse Educators II in Jan 2019 – we are thinking 12/1/19 and moving it back a week so more can come
  • The impact that Diverse Leaders will have on our 2nd cohort of delegates – you can register here for our free #BAMEed leadership development programme: https://goo.gl/forms/pQN8cn7Iw3zOPf5I2
  • Supporting the launch of #LGBTed
  • Advocating the developments of #BAMEed and @TFBAMEcommunity
  • What #WomenEd will achieve in our 4th year

Currently reading and thinking about:

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Everyone who came to Aureus yesterday – all of the speakers who volunteered their time for free, all of the exhibitors who provided resources, refreshments (Veema), gave out books (Leadership Matters) and discounted CPD (TES Institute) to our audience
  • Pen who captured the opening discussions and reflections brilliantly.
  • Claire Birkenshaw for educating me and making me more trans aware over pizza and wine!

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#Nurture1718: Seeds of Hope

Keziah encourages us each year to review our year & reflect on our achievements before setting our intentions for the next year. This is my 3rd nurture blog.

2015/16 – was all about seeking change as I had just resigned from my DHT role. I was re-evaluating & seeking my next steps. I needed to decompress to re-calibrate.

2016/17 – was all about seeing that change through, reestablishing myself & re-framing. Re-discovering my authentic self & being guided by my values. When I sit down and think  about it, it has been a mega year, a pivotal one for my career in fact. I did a TED talk!! It has been a big year for #womened too – we were nominated for Best Network in the National Diversity Awards!

2017/18 – will be a year of embedding, letting all of the changes in my professional & personal life settle & for equilibrium to be restored. I am excited to see  more of my intentions become actions.

Metaphorically, I feel like I was an established plant that was violently pulled out of the ground. I was re-potted, pruned and nourished. I have now been re-planted in a new environment, with the correct conditions & environment to grow & flourish. I have dispersed my seeds of hope, and they are now growing.  🌱

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2016/17 Reflections:

New opportunities:

I am now officially the founding Headteacher of a brand new start up secondary school and have just completed our first term!

New locations:

We have a beautiful new school building and site. I now teach/ lead in Didcot and live in Abingdon-on-the-Thames. I no longer live in London, and am close to where I was born in Henley.  It is weird how life sometimes takes you full circle!

New perspectives:

I have now been at GLF Schools for a year and am adapting to a new culture and ethos.  I have laid the foundations for our vision at Aureus, and our team have contributed to the values. We are all working together, we are on the same page, we are on the same bus, heading in the same direction.

New freedoms:

We have flipped the school day and start every morning mindfully. We have framed our curriculum through a values-based education. We have created a rewards-based culture and a coaching ethos.

New travels:

I started the year in Northern Ireland, I have been to Canada, Spain, Italy, Croatia and Dubai this year. I work hard and my holidays keep me going, but the international #womened opportunities also really excite me!

Other things this year I am proud of – I was nominated for a Women in the City Rising Stars Award, I led 3 DfE Diversity Grants, I was on a #womened panel in Banff with Pasi Sahlberg, I did a TED talk, I have been asked to write a monthly piece for Teach Secondary.

2017 has been an epic professional year!

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2017/18 Intentions:

New opportunities:

I have been made Executive Headteacher & will be opening our primary school & SEND base. I am on the Mental Health in Schools Award steering group lead the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust’s regional funding stream. I am leading the 2nd year of our Diversity Grant. #WomenEd are writing a book, we are also curating a whole channel at The Times Educational Festival at Wellington College in June.

New locations:

I have really enjoyed working with the #WomenEd teams in the West Mids and the East Mids this year. Also, the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Women Leading in Education Network. Both have kept me busy helped me settle out of London after 12 years in the city. Our sibling school Aureus Primary is being built & will open in September so we will have another new site!

New perspectives:

I am halfway through my coaching programme with Electric Woman which is encouraging us to dig deep to lean into our vulnerabilities. I am excited about hosting Diverse Educators in January to bring together #womened #bameed #lgbted and #disabilityed. We have become a partner school for Whole Education & will become a hub school for TES Learn, SSAT & Challenge Partners this year.

New freedoms:

I have joined a choir. It is half of my #wellbeing pledge to myself. I have attended every week for a term and have even performed in public!! This has been my #10%braver this year. My other half of the pledge – weekly yoga classes – has not gone as well but I will strive to fulfill this from January. 1 thing at a time!

New travels:

I am seeing the end of the year out and the start of the new year in, in Helsinki. I am of to the Dominican Republic for a friend’s wedding in Feb half-term. Next summer I am excited to be traveling to Mozambique on a women leading in education charity project with Action Aid to build a library. A once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity. I have also been asked to speak at a Girls’ Leadership Conference in Adelaide…

The last 2 years have been a whirlwind of activity & change, this year I am looking forward to some calm and to some clear, blue skies!

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I would like 2018 to be an epic personal year!!

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

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Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The successful first term we have had at Aureus.
  • The growing momentum of #womened.

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • The DFE’s papers on flexible teaching and mental health.

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • The fabulous team at Aureus.
  • The wonderful #womened regional leaders I work with.

Currently feeling inspired by:

  • Stories of courage & resilience from fellow educators who are values-led and determined to be hopeful, optimistic & driven to change our profession.

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New Staff Induction: Values Scoping

Wow! What a week? 5 full days of New Staff Induction and Year 6 Transition Evening.

It has been a whirlwind – a highly-productive and intense week but we have achieved so much already. The Aureus team have bonded, forging strong relationships and starting some brilliant collaborations.  The feedback after each session and at the end of the week was overwhelming positive. Staff feel valued and know that their voice has been heard in the co-designing process of our school.

Our vision is shared. Our values are aligned. Our mission is clear.

Together we will nurture the hearts and the minds of the Aureus Community. Together we will grow, learn and flourish as a team.

The values-scoping day was vital in achieving this. It was important to have an external objective voice, Sue Webb, facilitate for us so that it was crowd-sourced and shared, not me imposing my values on my team. I was challenged and have had to compromise on some things, but not on my non-negotiables. She has started us on our VbE journey. We will work towards fulfilling the Values-based Education framework alongside becoming a Rights Respecting School, we will underpin what we do with the rights of the child.

The discussions and reflections on who we are, both as humans and as educators, were fascinating and have helped to establish strong relationships across the team. We started the week as strangers and we ended the week as not just friends, but as a family. The Aureus family. Pen Mendonca listened and captured our shared vision and our emerging ethical vocabulary.

Aureus Values Scoping I loved the different metaphors that emerged as we explored our values being our moral compass, our anchor in a storm, our beacon of hope. Each image symbolising the roots we are planting as we grow our school.

We started the week by doing the inner work to reflect on our own values. We consolidated our 16 strongest values to our 8 core values. We self-evaluated how aligned our current school cultures were on a values wheel. This task was enlightening for us all and quite emotional for some. It reinforced why staff are joining the Aureus Team. Why we are bonded in the conviction that there is a different way, that there has to be a different way of achieving our vision without compromising our values.

values wheel

We scoped all of our values. We also virtually brought in those staff members who were not present. The 12 core values that bond us are drafted for staff consultation in September. We will then consider what each of these values looks like, what behaviours, attitudes, language  we associate with each to enable us to live each value, every day.

Aureus 12 core values

In my research I have found the idea of us all doing an Integrity Report each year where we reflect on how authentically we are living our values. I am going to draft mine over the summer and share it with the team. Model the reflection, honesty and openness that I seek from our team.

Starting the week with our values framed everything else we discussed and shared. Looking at the whole child entitlement, the leadership of our values-based curriculum and the leadership of our restorative justice behaviour for learning model through the values lens has fundamentally changed our approach to these key areas of our school. Our why remains in tact, but our how and our what have shifted.

Steve Baker from Pivotal Education joined us to further challenge us on how we have been trained, how we have been institutionalised and how we can potentially achieve the school culture and ethos we share a vision for without becoming trapped in a negative, punitive cycle.

Each day we started by experiencing the Mindfulness programme that Julie Hunter (one half of my Deputy Headteacher team) has planned for our students to develop their self-care and resilience toolkit. Steve joined us the day it was Mindful Movement – he participated alongside our teachers, our leaders, our operations team, our site team and our home school link workers as we did yoga together for 30 minutes at the start of  our day led by Charlotte James, our PE LP and staff wellbeing lead. We were experiencing what it is like to mindfully prepare before you mentally learn.

Each external guest who joined us this week were extremely complimentary about the Aureus team, they really are the A-Team. Each contributor expressed they were quite jealous at the opportunity we have and wished they could turn back the clock to join us on our journey. These comments made my heart swell with pride.

We have a lot to do. We have a long way to go. Yet, I am confident that I have the right people on the bus and could not think of a better team to be on this adventure with.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The dynamic, determined team I have recruited. I feel privileged and very proud of the strong team ethic we have already forged this week.

Currently reading and thinking about:

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Thank you to Sue Webb who facilitated our Values Scoping exercises and planted the seeds for our Values-based Education and Values-led Leadership to #growlearnflourish
  • Thank you to Pen Mendonca who was our graphic facilitator to capture the process
  • Thank you to Steve Baker who facilitated our behaviour for learning day
  • Thank you Kate at Deli-licious who fed us all week!

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.

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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:

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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

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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