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Developing relationships

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Claire Amos, from Epsom Girls Grammar School, discusses the importance of developing relationships when leading change. Claire believes the key lies in positivity and enthusiasm, having a real genuine interest in others' opinions, and then coupling with that the willingness to share your ideas and vision.


So in terms of developing relationships to lead change in school I guess the things that I find really important to that is a positivity and enthusiasm. A real genuine interest in others’ opinions about and actually really listening and ascertaining people's needs, their concerns. Then coupling with that the willingness to share your ideas and where your ideas come from and also sharing a bit of a vision of how you might get there. I think one of the key things about staff relationships, I think unerring positivity. I think being really cheerful and optimistic and always looking at things as opportunities rather than challenges.

You've got to be willing to acknowledge the challenges but then I think you’ve also got to be in a position where you don't let those challenges weigh you down - you see them as an opportunity for something else to happen and try and look for solutions. If you as a teacher working with teachers model everything, model a very positive approach where you’re looking at things as opportunities rather than dead end challenges - you know that has a really positive spin off for your students if that approach can be taken back into the classroom. Because again there are many challenges in an everyday classroom situation and we as teachers need to be the ones that are bringing the really positive voice into the classroom and getting our students to look at things as opportunities and opportunities to learn, rather than setbacks.

One of the key things for leading change, particularly when it's to do with pedagogy and curriculum, is to firstly actually demonstrate a sort of a passion and an interest and a knowledge of pedagogy and curriculum. I think once you've done that you're sort of halfway there - if people can genuinely see that you care about the student, you care about curriculum, you care about pedagogy and teaching and learning and then you can back that up with some knowledge of the topic as well as a result of combining positivity, enthusiasm. Combining that with a knowledge and a background based in research around the issue has been really key to swinging around learning area directors (or specific people that feel like they need to really be convinced of the facts) ‘What are the benefits of e-learning? Where is the hard data to tell me that this is going to improve my students' outcomes?’

I think without positive relationships with staff and without that level of trust that you develop through those relationships everything else is that much more difficult. I think when you can win over people and I always refer to my job as part PR. I'm here to sell a vision and I'm here to sell a concept and you know a real part of doing that successfully is by building a really strong relationship with the people that you're selling the vision to. That you have them on board with you. That they get swept along by your enthusiasm. In the context of school when people are busy and they're often tired and you're often talking to them at the end of the school day, it's really key that you get up there and you are lively, energetic, enthusiastic, and passionate. That's really part of selling this vision and at the end of the day if you bring it back to the students and that's what it's all about, you know, that's a long way to getting your staff on board and moving them forward and leading change.

Published on: 27 Jun 2012