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Leading change at Ilam School

5 minutes

Download (mov, 10.56 MB)

Lyn Bird, principal at Ilam School, discusses her approach to leading change:

Ilam School was a wonderful school to come into. There was brilliant practice, some clever leaders, and a lot of enthusiasm and motivation within the school. There were a lot of policies and procedures in place and the school was ticking over beautifully.

The biggest goal was to unpack the New Zealand Curriculum with a certain amount of urgency. Because of what had gone on before it was easy to facilitate and lead that initial change around unpacking the document. The other key aspect for me was to make sure there was a strong cultural alignment developed at the same time. This cultural alignment has been dynamic, ever moving, but underpins our whole being at Ilam.

A part of my job was to gather the collective IQ, the wonderful abilities of people and to use them for the best advantage for children. It is always about relationships. Teacher to child, teacher to teacher, and building lots of leaders within the school. It has had a profound effect with so many people offering and wanting to lead and follow their passions. This is another key word for me – people being able to live their passions.

As part of developing our curriculum in line with the New Zealand Curriculum we have followed an adviser's method of creating a framework for each essential learning area. To strengthen and make this more effective, teachers will be released into their passion groups. They have been asked what their passion is in teaching, what is the subject that lit up their hearts and in which they probably teach the best. Teachers have identified these areas and will be released to plan things like wonderment weeks where they use their passion to ignite passion in other teachers about their subject area.

It is not just about delivering a curriculum framework. Passion is important, as are relationships within the school. For teachers this relationship building took place as they developed norms for behaviour - MATES:

  • M utually
  • A greed
  • T eam
  • E xpectations and behaviours

Once this was formalised, it was a key document to have at team and staff meetings. We identified the types of behaviours we expected of people. The student values group developed their own expectations. They identified that the school rules were teacher generated and they wanted to survey the children and see what they thought about it. They created Mahi Pai, so instead of using the negative connotation of rules, they used behaviours that we expect to see at Ilam.

The teachers have asked to not take part in a contract next year so we can embed these practices (quality learning circles, the effective pedagogy rubric and the student achievement targets) further. We aim to deepen our knowledge and understanding of these things and really get a consistency of practice across the school. All our learning will be interconnected with capacity building related to these main ideas and themes.

Review questions image.

Review Questions

At Ilam School they recognised that cultural alignment was important for curriculum change. What have you got in place for developing your learning community and how effective do you think it has been?

Lyn also believes that teachers should be able to pursue their passions. Are there avenues for this to happen in your school and for teachers to take up roles as leaders in areas of expertise or interest?

leading change

Published on: 10 Dec 2009