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The support of school leaders towards curriculum implementation and professional development of their staff is crucial for quality education. The role of Circuit Managers (CMs) is to support teachers and school leaders in implementing educational change and to enhance their professional development on teaching and learning.  But what is this thing called leadership?  And how can you support its development with school leaders and teachers?

This workshop was the second in a learning path for CMs pertaining to leadership for effective CPD and educational change.  During the first one, which was held in May 2015, participants learned more about effective CPD practices and reflected on their current practices. Participants then identified priority domains for their own professional development. 

The resulting learning path intends to develop circuit managers’ understanding of the various stages of initiating and implementing change, gain awareness of the complexity of sustainable development, dealing with resistance and innovations, get acquainted with organisational learning and professional learning communities, become familiar with leadership for change and agree on tools and processes for developing CPD plans for schools, districts and circuits.

During this workshop (16-18/3/2016) attention was given to planning effective CPD, establishing PLCs and leadership styles.  A theoretical framework for planning effective CPD was linked to actual practice. Participants explored how their tools can be used to collect information about school (CPD) needs. They then started working on their own personal change case which entails the identification of improvement objectives for a school in their circuit.

Circuit managers investigated their prior knowledge and beliefs about PLCs and compared them with the characteristics of PLCs in the ISPFTED and the PLC Guideline from DBE. Some frequently occurring misconceptions and beliefs on PLCs were discussed. Starting from the official policy from DBE on PLCs, participants identified barriers to the establishment of PLCs.  Participants discussed how they could alleviate often occurring perceived barriers such as time and resistance with educators.  Next, participants worked on formulating possible visions and missions for PLCs in their district.  Finally, they reflected on their role as circuit managers in supporting PLCs.  They agreed that the role of a circuit manager in supporting PLCs is important and varied and includes advocating for PLCs with school leaders, managing knowledge and expertise about PLCs within the district and feeding expertise on leadership to PLCs.  In the next workshop, participants will further unpack their role in the facilitation and leadership of PLCs.

Participants explored the merits of various leadership styles such as instructional and transformational leadership.  They compared own experiences to these models and key leadership dimensions. Leithwood e.a.’s model of 8 dimensions of successful leadership was introduced.  Findings from the NEEDU report on school leadership formed the basis for a discussion on school leadership in the South African context. The concept of the leading learner was explained.

Lastly, participants engaged with another theoretical model which can enrich their CPD and leadership support to schools: stages of concern. They discovered how the different developmental stages of a professional create different needs for support.

The workshop was co-facilitated by FSDOE (IDMG) and VVOB.  More pictures can be found here.