I love the title of this magazine – The Connected Leader.
I found that the challenges of leadership were greatest when I felt disconnected or isolated. Sometimes I felt that only I had responsibility for what was happening. Over the years I learned that there was no need for me to ever feel that way. It was up to me to contact another staff member, friend, colleague or partner to share my feelings and experience. Of course, I pretty quickly learned that by so doing I gained the advice and sensitive support that enabled me to progress whatever issue or circumstance had arisen.
I learned this bit of wisdom through some pretty tough experiences – some of which turned out happily in the end. As a beginning principal I got a memo from Departmental HR stating that all staff seeking transfers had to lodge their transfer request forms (copy attached) by the end of the month. So, I diligently copied a transfer form and put one in the pigeon hole of all staff members.
Job done (I thought).
At that afternoon’s staff meeting the atmosphere was a little unusual, perhaps you might have said “odd”. I asked if something was wrong – everyone looked a bit tired or down. One of the more senior teachers looked me in the eye and said “we’re a bit shocked. We’ve all got transfer forms put in our pigeon holes.” As the staff had arrived from their classrooms they had checked their mailboxes (this is twenty years ago) and found the forms. They had quickly decided the boss wanted to clean out the staff!
As the realisation of what I had done sunk in I well and truly felt isolated. Fortunately, the staff accepted my grovelling explanation and heartfelt apology.
There were other instances, too, where the emotional impact was deeper and longer lasting, but, by staying connected with respected others, valuable perspective was gained, and retained.
The Survey on Principal and Deputy Health and Wellbeing (Riley Report) has a theme of networking (formal and informal) of which I have written previously. One evening about thirty years ago I was invited to attend a network meeting of principals convened by John Laing (of APAPDC/PAI fame) who was principal of a Launceston primary school. I tagged along with the late Grant Garwood (ACHPER luminary), who was the guest expert. I was delighted by the informality of the meeting (held in a bistro), the seriously professional nature of the discussion in the informal setting, and the collegiality of the gathering – formality and informality happening simultaneously – and all in a group of about six people.
I offer these two stories as a means of explaining how easily we can become isolated, how easy it can be to repair connection, and how effective and rewarding networks with others can be. Clearly both those stories remain stuck in my memory.
Of course, professional associations are an important and supportive network. School leadership is such a complex undertaking that sometimes it is only other people doing your job who can understand what it is that you’re experiencing. This is another link to the wellbeing study which has been so influential in bringing issues to the attention of the leaders of bureaucracies and Boards. With whom should/can we connect and about what? Work intensification and the desire to do more as instructional leaders remain atop the list of stressors for leaders. There has been a good deal of publicity regarding other issues since the February release of the Riley Report. I have, over many years, found it helpful for me (and, I hope, for others) to share my experiences, worries and frustrations with my colleagues. I have learned a great deal and benefitted from sincere and confidential support. I have also found that this sharing engenders high levels of trust.
As school principal I established a “senior executive” group. Included in this group were the assistant principal(s) and the School Business Manager. This was the group to whom I turned as professional support when I was handling an issue of the highest levels of sensitivity – to double check on processes, to add to the perspectives being brought to bear, and to share experience. Clearly, this was in larger schools where there were assistant principals.
In closing, allow me to put in a word of encouragement to join us in Adelaide in September for our APPA Conference – I would love to meet you in person and for us to join our ranks of connected leaders.Malcolm Elliott
With farmers suffering through what many are calling the ‘worst drought in living memory’ SchoolAid has today launched its ‘Hay and Hampers for Hope’ campaign.
The campaign is calling on 10,000 schools around Australia to donate $100 each, and in doing so raise $1 million to go towards hay for drought-affected livestock and hampers for farming families that are struggling with meeting their living expenses.
SchoolAid founder and CEO Sean Gordon said: “Farming families are often the last to ask for help and the first to lend a hand. ‘Hay and Hampers for Hope’ is about harnessing the collective power of Australia’s youth to help those who have given us so much, both economically and culturally. If you’re a young person and you’re distressed by these images on the news of starving sheep and farmers doing it tough, get involved because there’s now something you can do about it.”
INSPIRING STUDENTS TO READ MORE, and helping them find the books they will love to read, takes a combination of dedication, inspiration and engagement. We know you bring the dedication to work every day and with our ‘Reading Leader’ portal we hope to help with both the inspiration and engagement to get more kids reading and kids reading more.
At Scholastic we encourage the borrowing of brilliance and through our “Reading Leader Award’ we are seeking out the very best for you to borrow from. Scholastic and APPA are providing a platform to recognise Reading Leaders across the country, so that their ideas and efforts can reach more students, and remind us all to help children every day with their reading journey.
Visit our “Reading Leader” portal for reading programs, professional resources, brilliant book suggestions and more. NO COST offerings, all designed to help you be a better reading advocate and connect your students with books they will love to read.
Congratulations to Lesley Gollan of Queensland’s WoodLinks State School, who is the Term 2 Scholastic National Reading Leader Award winner.
Principal Vicki Caldow noted, ‘Lesley is a reading champion who works across the school to develop and implement programs that empower teachers and invites the wider community to support students in practising and enjoying reading.’
Locally made ethical school wear
Through their own procurement policies local schools have the power to support an ethical Australian clothing industry and help prevent the exploitation of workers. There are local school wear manufacturers who are committed to making clothes locally the right way.
Ethical Clothing Australia is responsible for accrediting local clothing and footwear manufacturers to ensure that their workers are receiving their legal wages and entitlements, and working in decent conditions.
To find out more contact Ethical Clothing Australia to ask how we can assist your school to source ethically accredited school wear.
Written by internationally recognised school and early education experts, Your Child's First Year at School: Getting off to a good start, is highly valued as a home and school resource which provides excellent advice to parents, teachers and all interested in giving childrenthe best possible start at school. Order at:
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How does it work? PR1ME: explicitly and systematically teaches the problem solving processes and strategies; uses consistent and carefully structured pedagogy; takes a carefully scaffolded, deep-dive into conceptual development; actively involves students in metacognition; and provides professional learning for teachers.
For 40 years, Scholastic Australia has been partnering with schools across the country to give kids access to books they want to read through Clubs and Fairs. In 2012, Scholastic gave Australian schools over $11 million worth of Scholastic Rewards. To find out how you can spend Scholastic Rewards on resources and save your budget, visit
Camp Australia delivers after school care solutions, building on the educational experience of school communities. As the nation’s leading after school care provider Camp Australia has partnered with school communities for 25 years, adding value by delivering high quality care, well-trained staff, systems and support. Find out how Camp Australia will add value to your school community at
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Mobile: 0413 009988
Connected Leader Copyright ©. Australian Primary Principals Association 2016. This whole publication, created as a deliberately selected compilation of internet-based resources, may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the Australian Primary Principals Association (APPA).
Connected Leader is an official publication of the Australian Primary Principals Association. In close collaboration with APPA, Connected Leader is designed, produced and edited, specifically for APPA members, by Debra J. Crouch, Managing Director of straight to the point, to enhance the professional learning of Australian primary school leaders.
The opinions expressed in any of the internet-based resources accessed by links from Connected Leader, belong entirely to those who created those resources, and do not necessarily represent official APPA views and policies. At times, links to some resources may be deliberately selected to reflect the wide range of views held by Australian primary school leaders, and the views therein may be subject to debate in some sections of the education community. Readers are advised that, in the interests of brevity, not all of the available personal opinions or information about a particular event, development, issue or policy direction may be published in resources made available through links in Connected Leader. Interested readers who require more comprehensive information, or who seek the opinions of all stakeholders, are advised to directly contact the institution/s or persons cited in the resource/s or conduct their own private research.
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