The NEXTschool Leader: Thinker, Striver & Nudger
School leaders (board leaders, principals, and teachers) involved in NEXTschool are leading and living a complex change process – one that is exciting, fulfilling and sometimes bumpy and messy! Much is written about the characteristics, strengths and ‘inner work’ of leaders who successfully navigate such transformations. Here is an overview of what the research says and what we’re observing among NEXTschool leaders:
The Possibility Thinker
NEXTschool leaders think and act with moral purpose in the name of enhancing student engagement and learning – they are possibility thinkers. They believe passionately in the NEXTschool vision and share it widely and deeply. Possibility Thinkers are confident in their convictions while also open-minded, curious and willing to take risks. They see the possibilities and hold on to those, especially when faced with obstacles.
“There are thousands of … inspiring examples throughout history: explorers who discovered new worlds, scientists who challenged current thinking to create new cures, inventors who believed a new gadget or gizmo would help others. It is essential to bring that kind of “yes” thinking to school systems. It’s essential to do it, for our children and their future.” (Leadership Coaching for Educators, K. Reiss, 2015, p. 188).
The Fearless Striver
Innovation takes time and is rarely linear. It is complex, involves all members of the educational eco-system as learners (students, teachers, parents, board administrators, community members, and politicians) and often hits unexpected roadblocks. NEXTschool leaders are fearless* strivers – they strive to realize their vision, embrace resistance as an opportunity to learn and then persevere to find solutions. They have stamina, remarkable bounce-back-ability and learn from those they lead; they practice the habit of attunement and put “their assumptions on hold and begin to recognize and learn from the authority of each person they encounter” (The Inner Work of Leaders, Mackoff and Wenet, 2000, p. 144).
*Authors Yvette Jackson and Veronica McDermott describe the signs of fearlessness as “radically confident, radically present and radically strategic”. They go on to say that “Where this is hope, there is belief. Where there is belief, there is confidence. Where there is confidence, there is ownership of self. Where there is ownership of self, there is strength and drive to transform a school.” (Aim High, Achieve More: How to Transform Urban Schools Through Fearless Leadership, Jackson & McDermott, 2012, p.21-22).
The Mindful Nudger
One of the essential components of the NEXTschool model is professional collaboration – a team’s commitment to being “inquisitive about and increasingly knowledgeable and well-informed about becoming better practitioners together” (Hargreaves, 2011). NEXTschool leaders are mindful nudgers of professional collaboration. They focus on relationships, practice transparency and know who, when and how to gently push or pull without imposing.
Learn more about the mindful nudger here: “Firstly, a lot of building professional collaboration is informal. It is about developing trust and relationship and it takes time. But if all this is left entirely to voluntary and open-ended choice, a lot of collaborative effort will dissipate and provide no benefit to anyone or never even occur at all. Second, positive collaborative work can benefit from teachers sometimes being nudged forward through deliberate arrangements of meetings, teams, structures, and protocols. But if these are hurried, imposed or forced, or if they are used in the absence of commitments to building better relationships, then they too will be ineffective. (Push, Pull and Nudge; The Future of Teaching and Educational Change, Hargreaves, A., 2011, LEARNing Landscapes, Vol. 9, No.1., Autumn 2015, p. 132).
Ultimately, leading the NEXTschool initiative in a board or school is demanding and exhilarating, and requires a balance of all three leadership personas – the possibility thinker, the fearless striver, and the mindful nudger. These are perhaps best integrated by Michael Fullan in his book “Nuance” where he describes successful leaders as those who “connect people to their own and each other’s humanity. They don’t lead; they teach. They change people’s emotions not just their minds. They have an instinct for orchestration… Above all, they are courageously and relentlessly committed to changing the system for the betterment of humanity.” (Fullan, M., 2019, p. 12)
What other aspects of leadership might NEXTschool leaders embrace? Please share with us at email@example.com
https://hosted.learnquebec.ca/nextschool/2019/12/09/the-nextschool-leader-thinker-striver-nudger/NEXTschoolSchool leaders (board leaders, principals, and teachers) involved in NEXTschool are leading and living a complex change process – one that is exciting, fulfilling and sometimes bumpy and messy! Much is written about the characteristics, strengths and ‘inner work’ of leaders who successfully navigate such transformations. Here is an...lizfalco firstname.lastname@example.orgAdministratorNEXTSchool