Whatever Education Leadership & Management CPD you are engaging in, be it an MA or the DfE NPQML, NPQSL or NPQH, or something else, chances are you will have to complete a weekly, reflective log. This is for your personal development and you are meant to focus on your practice as an aspiring or developing education leader/manager, with the aim of reflective growth based on what you are learning through the theory on your course. Even if you are not engaging in a specific programme of learning, you might well see the benefit as an aspiring or developing educational leader in taking stock of what it’s all about. Reflective log writing is an amazing way to do this.
So, for example, you may one week decide to observe leadership and management in practice around you in your educational setting. You may take special note of how your Head does things, what they do, other members of SLT, middle leaders perhaps. You may look at how they engage with others and get things done. What are they doing and why? Could you perhaps say they have a particular style? Can you link this back to literature based on what you are learning on your course? What do you personally learn from this? Can you reflect on your own leadership style and preferences and relate what you have seen in others and from the literature to your own practice? Now you’ve had a look in the mirror, is there anything you’d do differently? Do you want to change your style and approach to leadership? Why? What personal values underpin this? Do you see any personal room for improvement and/or goal setting? Would you think it of value to set a SMART goal for yourself?
All of this reflection would revolve around looking in the mirror at your own practice in your own setting. Week by week you should be able to recognise and acknowledge personal growth and confidence based on this. You should become increasingly aware of different aspects of educational leadership and management in ever more detail in reference to your own setting, personal values and action.
You might struggle to know what to reflect on each week, however, so below is a list of 20 ideas to get you started. This isn’t meant to be a prescriptive list, but it is certainly a good starting point. You could use some of these ideas, or develop your own once you’ve got the hang of it.
Idea 1: What’s your why? Reflect on your reasons for wanting to engage in Education Leadership & Management CPD. Why do you want to do it? Then ask why that is important to you as a reason. What was your trigger? If you had to tell this as a short story, what’s your story until now (I personally prefer to develop a personal narrative rather than a ‘why’)? What is your goal concerning this? What is the reality of your situation? What ownership, accountability and responsibility are you willing to take on in order to meet your goals? What options do you have as to how you can achieve your goal? What are you going to do about it? (NB: I just introduced you to the coaching GROW model: G = goal, R = reality, O = options, and W = what are you going to do about it). Can you find an academic / scholarly article to link to this reflection?
Idea 2: What constrains leadership in your setting? What policies do you have to put into practice? Where does this policy come from? Can you give examples from your own day to day practice where this policy has an impact and how? In what ways do your local Edu leaders / managers implement these policies? Does this influence the style of leadership required? How? Do you think there is any room for improvement? What might you suggest could be changed to make this better? Have a look at some highlights from an article based on the background of policy at https://carolslearningcurve.com/2017/11/17/educational-leaders-do-you-know-where-your-policies-come-from-at-the-global-and-international-level-by-drcwebbbaphd-sltchat/ – if you scroll to the bottom you will also see a list of bodies that create and influence policy at the global and international level.
Idea 3: Can you make links between your national context and your setting? How does this shape and impact on leadership and management at your local level? How does this impact on your own practice and what you are expected to do in your role? For example, in England, party politics, cabinet reshuffles and general elections all have a huge impact on educational policy that filters down to schools, and these impacts change frequently, leaving teachers often apathetic, disenchanted or frustrated with the pace of change, which twists in dramatic turns and directions. On the other hand, other countries have very different histories, cultures and government backgrounds. See for example some factors highlighted about education in the Gulf and the UAE at https://carolslearningcurve.com/2017/11/20/the-shape-of-education-policy-in-the-gulf-impacts-of-the-economic-imperative-coming-from-the-regional-and-international-gcc-level/ and scroll down to the bottom of that page to see more links pertaining in particular to the context of the UAE. How do the factors highlighted shape, constrain or provide opportunities in your setting and practice? What does it require of you as an aspiring or developing leader? Can you create and personal CPD SMART goals with respects to the issues identified?
Idea 4: Can you conduct a personal leadership assessment? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you need to work on? What opportunities do you have to help others and share your best practice? Can you do a 360 degree leadership assessment and find out from others how they perceive you? Can you do some work on examining your own values? Do you know yourself? Do you understand why you have some preferences for some ways of doing things, and not others? Can you link to tools to help you do this? Have a look at https://carolslearningcurve.com/2017/11/21/analysing-identifying-personal-educational-leadership-needs-aspects-to-research-and-tools-to-help-analyse-sltchat-womened-womened/ to give you some more tips.
Idea 5: What alignment do you have in your current setting? What educational vision for leadership and management do you have? If you had to start your own free school from scratch tomorrow, what educational paradigm would you establish it on and why? What learning theories would you advocate, what methods, tools and approaches would you seek to embed and promote the school on? Does this cohere with your own setting now or is there divergence? Do you feel as though you have alignment between your vision and values and that of the organisation you are currently working in? How? If not, what might you do to perhaps create more alignment or find somewhere you felt you had better fit? Consider the issues presented at https://carolslearningcurve.com/2017/11/27/educational-leadership-challenge-developing-a-vision-values-a-paradigm-theory-pick-n-mix/ – can you link to theory and approaches you as a leader would lean towards creating a vision on?
Idea 6: How do you define leadership? What’s the difference between leadership and management for you in your experience, practice and current setting? Can you give examples? What would you consider good and bad examples of leadership? Why? Can you link to examples and literature and set yourself some personal goal for development based on this?
Idea 7: What is authentic leadership? To what extent do you feel you and those around you show themselves as authentic leaders? Can you give examples from practice? Can you link to literature/theory? Can you set a personal development goal with respects to this?
Idea 8: What are some of the dilemmas of leadership? How do leader/managers negotiate the tension between employee engagement/well-being and performance measurement accountability? Can you give examples of how leaders in your own setting seek to create balance (or not) with regards to expectations of staff workload? How do you feel this could be improved based on what you have found in the literature so far on leadership and management? Can you do a bit of research and find something that may help? What would you do differently to improve staff well-being and workload management? Can you think of any aspects of personal development that could help you to implement this more effectively?
Idea 9: What reflective models work best for you in reflecting and developing your own leadership? Can you give an example? Can you relate how this has helped you and how in turn you might be able to coach and mentor others using this model?
Idea 10: What can you learn from school inspection reports about leadership that give you some goals for your own practice? Can you give an example? How has this changed your thinking? What would you seek to do differently and why based on what you have learned? How might you coach and mentor others with respects to your learning in order to help develop those around you?
Idea 11: What does the literature say about the importance of listening in leadership roles? Can you self-evaluate with examples from practice in your own setting? Can you identify what you do well and how you might seek to improve?
Idea 12: What leadership models/theories have had most impact on you so far? How and why? E.g. have you been inspired by transformational, distributed and servant leadership? Have you been depressed by transactional models and Great Man Theories? Why? Can you relate these to instances in your own experience and how you have seen them work out in practice? Which model/theory do you aspire to embodying in your own practice? How will you do this? What goals can you set in order to develop further?
Idea 13: Based on your research carried out in your own setting so far, what have you learned about leadership with regards to implementing what you consider good practice in reality? How do other people fit into this equation? Have you adjusted your own expectations, style and practice in view of what you have learned? How and why? How has this shaped your own leadership approach so far? Can you link to literature/theory?
Idea 14: Based on your educational leadership and management vision, what organisational culture would you seek to nurture in your own school setting? How and why? What models of organisational culture speak to you most strongly and why? If you were to set about trying to change the culture, how might you approach that? Can you give examples from practice and link to literature? Can you think of any personal development goals that may help you achieve such change more effectively in the long term?
Idea 15: What have you learned about research so far that would strengthen your leadership toolkit? Are there any research methods you would carry with you as a leader in the future to use as part of an overall leadership and management approach? Do you think research as a tool is relevant to leadership? Why? How? Can you link to practice with examples? Can you link to literature?
Idea 16: What is the role of emotional intelligence in leadership? Can you give examples from your own setting where you have seen ‘good’ emotional intelligence in practice? Can you self-assess your own emotional intelligence? Can you identify any room for improvement? What can you do to take action on this? Can you link to literature? Can you set a goal for development?
Idea 17: Can you identify a model of change management and say how as a leader (or aspiring leader) you would seek to use this in practice in your setting? What type of issues might you use it to address? Who would you enlist to support you in your setting and how? Can you reflect on actual examples where you have seen this being used either implicitly or explicitly? Can you evaluate the method? Do you have any personal goals as to how you might use it differently in future yourself? What personal development needs do you have to help you become a better manager of change? Can you link to literature?
Idea 18: Can you identify how coaching and mentoring is used in your setting, either formally or informally? What examples from your experience can you give either as a giver or receiver of coaching or mentoring? What models of coaching and mentoring have you tried out or would you like to try out? How? Why? Can you assess and evaluate these approaches? What do you learn about yourself from this? How can you improve? Can you link to literature?
Idea 19: How do you deal with and respond to conflict as a leader and manager in education? This pertains to staff teams largely. Does your response change if you are involved in the conflict personally? How? What is your approach managing conflict? Can you relate an example from practice? Can you identify any ways you might improve your own skills with respects to this? Can you set a goal? What? Can you link to theory/literature?
Idea 20: How have you developed as a leader so far? What do you do differently now that you didn’t do before? Can you give examples from practice? What are your next goals for leadership personal development? Can you link to theory/literature?