Cover the bases – the need to understand all aspects of our schools

To have a successful school, it requires leaders who are abreast of how everything in a school works.

Schools are highly complex places where poor decision-making in one area of the school can have significant impact on another. Schools are complex in that external forces that either mandate or create pressure for change on certain aspects of a school need to be clearly understood so that the school decision-makers are able to be fully informed before proceeding. Complex school environments demonstrate that the personnel in a school are more than just interchangeable parts; each person brings a unique skill set and quality to the roles they perform. When highly valued team members decide to move on, it can create huge instability.

For these, reasons it is vital that school leaders spend significant time learning about the schools they lead, engaging with colleagues that they may not immediately see as valuable and making a commitment to understanding those aspects of a school that they may find less interesting.

This does not mean that school leaders must be present on every committee, lead every meeting, or be part of every decision. Leaders need to be able to exercise good judgement to know when they are going to be needed and when they can step back and trust their team to get on with it. Leaders do however, need to familiarize themselves with the unfamiliar, so that they can be involved in crucial discussions when change is needed. Perhaps, even more importantly, we can become more empathetic leaders when we understand what every one of our colleagues does in contributing to the whole.

By seeking to cover all our bases, teachers and support staff will trust that the leader truly knows what goes on, the challenges faced and that they can guide the school both through crises and forwards in its improvement.

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