Mr. G, an English teacher was appointed rector of the International Secondary School (ISS). His goal was to create a school environment where students of different academic abilities as well as from diverse social backgrounds could succeed and flourish in secondary school. The road that Mr. G and his colleagues travelled on their journey was paved with professional development built into every facet of the school’s work. The central belief that emerged was student empowerment through the professional development of teachers.
At the time of our interview, Mr. G saw his own leadership role as threefold. First, he felt that his job was to model professional development, as in the portfolio that he created for his own assessment. Second, he considered that training his staff to be leaders was one of his central roles. And third, a major piece of his responsibility was an external one to protect and advocate for his school. He initiated the Coordinating Council that includes administrators, student representative council and parent association representatives; it is the Council which is the policy-setting body for the school. Day-to-day school management and Coordinating Council meeting agendas are the responsibility of a steering committee comprised of the rector, assistant rectors and two elected teacher representatives. Other school-wide committees have specific charges: the Curriculum and Assessment Committee oversees the performance-based assessment practices and aligns curriculum and assessment standards across instructional teams. The Personnel Committee determines faculty hiring and evaluation procedures. These committees contribute the topics for the professional development at the monthly faculty meetings.
Mr. G sees the role of the leader as creating the opportunity for conversations to take place, intervening in ways that prevent the organizational structure from impeding those conversations, and then changing the nature of the organization so that those interventions are no longer necessary.
We had heard second hand that Mr. G’s leadership style seemed different than the previous rector. We asked an interviewee for her perceptions: “I’ve never met with a quicker or more creative mind. He is completely knowledgeable. He is the person to go to when you need a creative solution. He is demanding, intolerant of mistakes, and people hear that and react to that as well. He is demanding at the International Secondary School but allowed a decentralization of responsibilities – gave and evolved power for teams even though he was demanding. He allowed people to exercise authority and held them accountable”.
After 10 years at ISS, Mr. G determined that the school could continue functioning effectively without his personal leadership. He decided to accept an offer from New Visions for Secondary Schools, a Non-Governmental-Organisation which is funded by Private companies as a CSR project; the aim of that NGO is it manages funds, donations and professional development support to Private secondary schools. He was to oversee the creation and support of new small schools for which New Visions managed the funding.
problem 1: Discuss the key aspects of Mr G’s leadership and describe: How do they relate to leadership theories?
problem 2: By using one of the elements of Transformational leadership theory, discuss how and why you would make use of it in your own school context.