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In previous postings, we already reported on workshops as part of a learning path in which Free State Circuit Managers (CMs) are currently engaging. The learning path intends to capacitate CMs to support school leadership for effective Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and educational change.

During the first workshop, 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. During the second workshop (March 2016) attention was given to planning effective CPD, establishing PLCs and leadership styles.

In June this year (22 to 24 June 2016) a third workshop, in Bethlehem, focused on leadership for change and on PLCs.

Participants explored what educational change is. Attention was given to the difference between higher order change, which touches one’s beliefs and requires a mind shift, and lower order change, which is more technical and superficial. They discussed what underlying processes can enhance or delay change and what role leadership can play in leading change. Metaphors such as an iceberg and the “square wheel cart” were used. Each of those insights were linked to the participant’s context and experiences. What lies beneath the surface in the schools participants work with? What opportunities are there? Which are not yet used to the fullest? After discussing theoretic models for initiating and implementing change, they started working on their own change case which entails an improvement path for a school in their circuit. Their initial plans were discussed and enriched via peer review.

Circuit managers deepened their understanding of the key characteristics of PLCs via the viewing of a South African PLC in action. This led to the observation that establishing PLCs is related to higher order change of all involved. The mere nature of PLCs -a bottom up process that is needs based- requires all involved to reassess their current (top down and “depend on the expert”) approaches. They explored the role of the PLC facilitator and translated the lessons learnt to their own role in facilitating PLCs for SMTs and in their support to SMTs in supporting PLCs for teachers. Participants further investigated how gender and other forms of bias could affect PLCs. Participants discussed how they could incorporate these insights in their daily practice in general and their change case in particular.

In the next workshop, participants will further unpack their role and engage with a variety of PLC scenarios which will assist in further strengthening the understanding of PLCs and activities that can be done in a PLC. They will also share the status of their change case with peers and see how other theoretic models pertaining to change and leadership can enrich their cases.

Pictures can be found here.