Effective Andragogy - Universal Design for Leading and Visible Leadership

This year I am undertaking a number of personal professional and teaching inquiries. I am participating in the National Aspiring Principals Programme (NAPP) where I am undertaking a leadership inquiry. I am also working on Masters in Educational Leadership for which I am intending to complete a thesis (in the next year or two). As well as these two external opportunities for inquiry I am also completing three inquiries that are borne out of my personal professional learning plan I am completing as part of our professional learning and appraisal cycle at HPSS.

Our HPSS Personal Professional Learning Plan is an attempt to support staff in developing a sense of agency and ownership of their professional development, but done in such a way that ensures their inquiries are focused around putting the HPSS Principles of Innovate, Engage and Inspire into practice. Within the goals there may be 1-3 teaching inquiries with the opportunity to also focus on 1-2 more personal inquiries around their areas of leadership or learning. Below is my first attempt to frame up personal goals/inquiries which were developed with the help of my 'critical friend' Steve Mouldey. NB. The HMC stands for How might Claire.


My first personal goal got me thinking. 

As I looked at it more closely, I realised I was looking to apply what I regarded as effective pedagogy to what I hope is effective leadership. We strive to differentiate our teaching and learning as a means of meeting the needs of diverse learners, but do we differentiate our leadership style so as to meet the diverse needs of our team? Do we tend to adopt a model of leadership that we think might suit the context or project (and simply reflect how we like to be led) and forget that we are still dealing with a range of people that need a range of approaches to meet them where they are at? As I mentioned in an earlier post - this is an inquiry I am exploring with my Professional Learning Team. To begin my focusing inquiry I have started with a simple activity of actually meeting with each of my team and simply asking what kind of leader they needed me to be for them to feel supported and encouraged to develop as increasingly autonomous leader in their own right? How I work with them from here on in is going to be determined by their needs combined with a common framework or approach of having termly strategic team meetings (where we consider our collective plans for the term in relation to our collective strategic plan) and individual fortnightly catch ups (that can be more or less regular than that according to needs) where we discuss their short term goals for each term. If this improves how we function as a team and how they perceive my leadership effectiveness will only be seen as we move through the year - so I am guessing it is a case of 'time will tell'.

This in turn got me thinking about what I hope to do my thesis on - the idea of looking at the impact of de-privatisation of practice has on leaders. When I discussed this idea with my principal Maurie Abraham (who shares his practice and reflections very openly) he suggested that I was talking about 'visible leading'. That was absolutely what I was talking about. I really want to explore what happens when leadership practice and reflection on leadership practice becomes visible, transparent and openly shared through presentations, blogs, tweets and other online communities. Does the very act of sharing change practice? Does it provide opportunities for feedback and support the leader to become an adaptive expert in a way that keeping leadership practice closed to everyone except those directly affected by it? This in turn got me thinking about the concept of visible learning as defined by John Hattie "Visible Learning means an enhanced role for teachers as they become evaluators of their own teaching. Visible Teaching and Learning occurs when teachers see learning through the eyes of students and help them become their own teachers",  which made me think that in a sense this is what I am talking about, but in a leadership context. The leader that shares and openly reflects on their practice is seeking to become evaluators of their own leading, seeing leadership through the eyes of those they are leading (hopefully) and help them to become their own leaders.

Considering these two inquiries alongside one another and I realised another thing -  I keep coming back to looking at leadership through an effective pedagogy lens or more precisely though a lens of effective andragogy. Is this an effective way to think about leadership, or am I merely defaulting to my teacher role? Does that even matter? 

So many questions. 

Here's hoping I might discover some answers along the way.

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