Naureen Khalid’s top picks of this week’s education topics include dominance and affiliation, competition and collaboration, confidence and growth, and wellbeing and coping
Neither is conducive to effective accountability
In this post, Seth Godin, founder of learning platform Akimbo, states that people who take part and those who watch sporting events may not realise that there are two forms of ‘theatre’ taking place, a theatre of dominance and a theatre of affiliation. What happens on the field is about winning/losing and hence, dominating. In the stands, a different theatre plays out – the theatre of affiliation. People turn up to these events wearing the colours of the teams they support and feel connected to strangers wearing the same colours. Godin suggests that what happens in offices can also be viewed through this lens. It made me think of governors’ and departmental/SLT meetings. If there is no diversity of thought, a theatre of affiliation can result in groupthink. If the board is a weak one and is led by the head or the chair, then a theatre of dominance may play out. Neither is conducive to effective accountability.
Collaboration is hard work and takes practice
Written from the perspective of a CEO, this blog will be of interest to anyone who occupies a leadership position, including chairs of boards. Chief executive of disability charity Sense, Richard Kramer argues that leaders who are by nature fierce competitors will find meetings uncomfortable and stressful. Generous collaborators, on the other hand, are active listeners. They don’t think they have all the answers and are happy to work with one another. Kramer writes about some lessons he has learnt about collaboration. The first is to be careful about using the word ‘collaboration’ as the very idea can cause fierce competitors to back away from projects where they might otherwise make a positive contribution. Secondly, note that collaboration is hard work as people are usually trained to work in silos. As Kramer says, it “takes practice if you want it to become a habit”.
Some aspiring leaders may be put off by the incredibly high bar
Here, Jill Berry responds to a number of blogs and articles that warn against the idea of generic leadership skills. She is sympathetic to the idea and appreciates the importance of the curriculum – the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of teaching. She also agrees that leaders should trust their subject experts, but she is uncomfortable with the idea that leaders should be experts in all subjects and worries that some aspiring leaders may be put off applying by the incredibly high bar this sets. The work she does with aspiring leaders is based around building their confidence, and she reminds us that leaders develop their leadership skills throughout their careers.
Berry states that governors at the school she led attended presentations by subject leads, which she also found helpful as a head. For governors attending such presentations, Berry’s blog is a useful reminder that subject leads appreciate and gain from the interest too and an excellent argument for the system of linked governors, which ensures the whole board has oversight of what is happening throughout the school.
Covid-19 is a personal crisis as well as a public health one
A geneticist by training, I follow medical Twitter as well as edu-Twitter. This blog is aimed at the former but is a valuable one to bring to the attention of school leaders, governors and teachers. In it, Sarah Markham states that Covid-19 is a personal crisis as well as a public health one. People are feeling under pressure and many are finding it hard to cope. Markham writes about the WellbeingAndCoping website co-funded by the NHS with input from international academics, health and mental health professional and educators. The website is suitable for the general public and will be especially useful to those who are in a caring role, which surely includes everyone in education. The website offers a range of strategies to relieve stress and anxiety. Importantly, people can select strategies that can fit into whatever time they have available, be it 30 seconds, three minutes or 30 minutes.