Diane Ketelle on how to make connections with and understand the real needs of our students – POP11

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Brandon Krueger
Brandon Krueger
Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne

Dr. Diane Ketelle, Professor of Education at Mills College in Oakland, CA., returns this week with another kernel of wisdom. This time she concentrates on making connections and understanding the real needs of students.

Diane Ketelle
Diane Ketelle

Diane starts by talking about authenticity.

She says that the word is probably over-used but if we look carefully at it, we can see it incorporates a number of important things.

To be truly authentic, we must start having hard conversations about:

  • race
  • class
  • gender
  • sexual orientation
  • the gender binary

We must think about:

  • what a good school is
  • what a good school is
  • what it means to have a positive discipline program

For Diane, authenticity underpins making positive change.

It does take a lot of courage to make these genuine connections because you have to be willing not to avoid these harder conversations.

Diane talks about ‘nicety nice’ schools who only concentrate on creating a polite working environment but not much learning is going on.

To make deeper change and to help all learners make significant growth, you have to start with the adults having the tough conversations outlined above.

Leadership

Diane points out that leadership is work with people and if you don’t enjoy working with people then educational leadership is probably not for you.

Diane doesn’t focus on ‘solving problems with bullet points’. She wants to get to the deep, sustainable change which involves investment in teachers, investment in staff which means:

  • investment in professional development
  • looking at supervision
  • sustaining ongoing conversations
  • reflective practice

Remember Diane’s new book:

Our first Pivotal Popcorn guest, Dr. Diane Ketelle has published a book – ‘Tread Lightly, Lead Boldly’.

Jessica Bonduris on decision-making suggestions for school leaders and teachers to use – POP 5

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Brandon Krueger
Brandon Krueger
Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne

We welcomed Dr. Jessica Bonduris back to the podcast this week for another kernel of wisdom. We first heard from her in episode 2 where she spoke about how to build positive relationships.

What are Jessica’s top tips around decision making when leading staff and students through positive climate change?

Transparency in decision making – Jessica believes this is particularly important for new administrators where there can be a large element of mistrust from staff members, parents or students. Being transparent allows you to alleviate a lot of the potential tension around decision making.

Jessica Bonduris
Jessica Bonduris

If it’s a shared decision on a school-wide issue you are able to make with an instructional leadership or other decision-making team, be prepared to speak about why it’s important for the school, present the data behind it and discuss it thoroughly.

As a leader you also need to be very transparent in what you expect everyone to be doing. This will help you to avoid having to catch people not doing what you expect or being disappointed when this happens.

Relationships – any programme which covers social or emotional issues is going to be used not only in the classroom but also in the cafeteria, at recess and at other times so it’s really important to teach students and staff how to use the new initiative in all areas of the school. This also needs to be communicated to parents as well so they can help at home.

Principals need to be out of their offices to see the programme being implemented in all the different settings.

Especially for new principals, any decision which is implemented in a ‘top-down’ manner has the potential to be disastrous. So it’s much better to work with the leadership group and for them to tell the rest of the school about what is going to happen and why. This way, you are building the leadership of the whole team.

Brandon adds that where the leader has already made up their mind about a decision and the group decision making ends up not being genuine, this can lead to serious problems as well.

It’s much better to be transparent and make it clear which decisions are shared and which have to be made by the principal alone rather than pretending that all decisions are shared. If you have established good relationships, then everyone will be happy to trust the principal’s judgement.