I am currently in the strange position of starting a new job at SCEL, whilst also having been working for SCEL since October 2015. I am SCEL’s new Lead Specialist for Teacher Leadership, but prior to this I was seconded as a Development Officer at SCEL to engage on the development of teacher leadership across Scotland. The purpose of this post is to take you through the engagement process, but also to outline the implications of this on my future work.
When I was initially tasked with carrying out an engagement on teacher leadership, I began by reading as much as I could on teacher leadership. However, it quickly dawned on me that what I actually needed to be doing was exploring approaches to engagement. It was at this point that I came across Theory U and U.Lab. The principles and approaches outlined in the online U.Lab course aligned well with the aims of our process and I therefore set about creating a variety of engagement approaches built around Theory U.
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Whilst I created an online engagement approach and set of questions to lead semi-structured discussions with individuals and small groups, the bulk of the engagement occurred through participatory workshops. An open offer was made to arrange these workshops and they were primarily held as twilight sessions throughout the country. I also developed a pupil version of the workshop, in partnership with the national children’s charity Children in Scotland, and the outcomes from all of these workshops were uploaded to the website scelengage.com.
The process and outcomes from our teacher leadership engagement have been outlined in full in our recently published report, with eight key themes identified.
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There was a significantly high level of positivity and enthusiasm for this engagement. Many teachers are keen to engage with this agenda.
Many teachers feel that there is a need to consider the current use of their time and the tasks which they are undertaking. What impact are both having on learners?
Teachers would like more and better opportunities for coherent leadership professional learning and opportunities to experience leadership roles.
Many teachers expressed a need to develop mechanisms for recognition of teacher leadership within schools, local authorities and nationally.
Many teachers recognised a need for more opportunities to share practice with colleagues through case studies, networking, shadowing and observation.
There was a frequent need expressed for mentoring and coaching for teachers beyond the probation year to support the development of leadership skills.
Many teachers expressed the view that opportunities to develop as teacher leaders need to be shared equitably with all teachers in the system.
There was a recognition that the culture change required to develop teacher leadership should involve stakeholders at all levels in Scottish education.
SCEL now intends to take forward a number of activities which build on these themes, which I will be playing a big part in through my new role! This will include working in partnership to develop and endorse programmes for teacher leadership as well as offering events, masterclasses and further enhancing our professional learning activities already available through the Framework for Educational Leadership: scelframework.com
To conclude, I would like to extend my thanks to the very many people who supported and took part in our teacher leadership engagement process. It was a positive and professionally stimulating process for me at least, and I am pleased that so many of the evaluations suggest that this was the experience of the vast majority of the participants also.