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Leading change from the middle

18 Dec 2017

by Annie Grant

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In the second session of Camden’s 2017/18 Middle Leaders Programme, the group looked at leading and managing change.

On a freezing December afternoon, trainer Janet Wallace warmed participants up with a ‘human opinion poll’. The middle leaders arranged themselves along a continuum from ‘agree’  to ‘disagree’ in response to a series of challenging questions. How comfortable were they with change? Did they think academies were the best thing since sliced bread? Have recent curriculum changes been a good thing? One-by-one, they were asked to justify their position.

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Then, after being introduced to Fullan’s Framework for Leadership, participants discussed their own experiences of educational change, reflecting on factors that  enabled the change to happen and those things that got in the way.

The rest of the session focused on the process of change – institutional change and personal change. A ‘Diamond 9′ exercise, encouraged participants to develop a set of principles from which they could begin to lead and manage change back at school, with ‘Kotter’s 8-step process’ helping them think through the practicalities. Then, a self-reflective exercise gave personal insight into the behavioural changes that individuals could make to become more effective. Each leader noted what they should start doing or do more of, what they should  do differently, and what they should stop doing or avoid.

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At the end of the session, thoughts turned to the leadership project that participants will carry out over the rest of the academic year, and Janet explained how the course would  support them in completing that.

Feedback on the session was excellent. Everyone gained a lot. For one participant, Michael Fullan’s view that the outcomes of effective leadership are that ‘more good things happen and fewer bad things happen’ put the daunting prospect of middle leadership into perspective and helped make that particular change seem a little more manageable.

Find out more about the previous Middle Leadership session in our blog, ‘Exploring Middle Leadership‘.

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