Module 4 – Leadership
Effective leadership is key to the success of Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL). Leadership includes the principal and a team that is tasked with developing, implementing interventions and supports, and continually using data to inform decision making.
- ensure best practice
- establish PBL Leadership Team and support team process
- take a leadership role in problem solving
- guide decision making process
- monitor progress
- ensure sustainability.
The leadership team involves a cross section of the whole school community that aims to improve school systems, shape school climate, provide opportunities to collaborate with staff and overcome real and perceived challenges.
PBL team responsibilities are to:
- assess current behaviour management practices
- examine patterns of behaviour using data to inform decision making
- obtain and maintain staff commitment and community participation
- develop school-wide positive behaviour action plan
- oversee, develop, implement, monitor and evaluate all planned objectives and activities.
Team composition should be collaborative to ensure school-wide representation. Staff selected to be on the team should be solution-focused, with a range of skills and expertise and work as an effective team player.
Teams may include some or all of the examples across all school settings:
- principal or senior executive
- assistant principals or head teachers
- stage representatives or faculty members
- Learning and Support Teacher (LaST)
- special education teacher
- counsellor or psychologist
- teacher librarian
- careers advisor
- parents and community members.
Team members may be selected by:
- appointment by principal or executive team
Teams will need to make regular decisions. Some decisions will require whole staff input. There will need to be decision-making protocols about who decides (team, some or all staff, some or all students and community) and how to decide by:
- Consensus: every view or position is heard.
- Majority rule: decisions are determined by a vote.
- Participative or representative: those making a decision seek and take input from staff.
- Unilateral: one person or group is empowered to make decisions with consultation.
Factors that impact sustainability:
- Length of term: the team is shared and open to all. A rotation process should be considered, taking into consideration school size, interest and other school initiatives.
- Representation: the team must maintain representation from all stages or faculties to ensure effective communication
- Staff turnover: rates of staff turnover can impact the implementation of PBL team goals.
Effective team process
Effective meetings and successful teams include:
- team meeting schedule
- working agreements
- meeting agenda
- team roles
- system to monitoring progress of strategies implemented
- system for documenting decisions
- systems for communicating to all key stakeholders
- decision makers present at meeting.
Considerations for creating a meeting schedule:
- have regular meetings at the same time and place
- during initial development phases meet frequently (for example, fortnightly), then a minimum of twice a term with additional meetings scheduled for achieving goals and planning.
Protocols or guidelines increase productivity. They should be:
- developed by the team
- visible for team members and those attending meetings
- reviewed annually or as needed.
- meeting at the same time, in the same place each fortnight or term
- consistent start and end times that are adhered to
- staying on topic
- giving full attention.
It is best practice to have and distribute the agenda before the meeting to inform participants what will be discussed. An agenda gives team members the opportunity to come prepared.
The agenda typically includes:
- topics for discussion
- time allocation for each topic
- the person or people responsible for leading or following up discussions
- other roles, like time keeper and minutes taker
- any discussions and follow up for future meetings.
Maintain a bulletin board in staff common areas to highlight PBL, include:
- important notices
- general information
- graphic data displays
- PBL minutes
- focus lesson of the week or fortnight
- ongoing progress.
Ensure that school-wide PBL efforts are made public through the school's app, newsletters, notes, website and social media.
Data-based decision making
It is important that data is used to inform decision making. Data includes school and other data, behaviour and academic. To promote long lasting change, schools must blend commitment and evidence-based practices with strong leadership.
- Focus on a specific question and work to answer the question, 'where are we now?'.
- Gather data pertinent to answering the question at hand.
- Where are the gaps in your current status compared to where you want to be?
- What data can help you drill deeper to further define the who, where, when, why and how?
- Define your outcome goals so that they are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound.
- What strategies will most efficiently and effectively get you to your desired goals?
Analyse collected data to determine progress toward meeting goals. Ask:
- Have we implemented our plan with fidelity?
- Have we achieved our goal or are we making adequate progress toward achieving our goal?
Within this, there needs to be decision making protocols. Some decisions require appointing an individual with the appropriate knowledge and authority to make them (such as a coordinator or principal). Other times decisions can be made by the team as involving the whole staff or community can be impractical, unnecessary or time consuming. When new procedures or approaches are being implemented, ensure the entire staff are involved so that everyone is familiar with it and supports it. Ensure student and family voices are heard as well.
It is important to maintain communication with all stakeholders (all staff, students, families and communities). It is important to consider:
- What needs to be communicated?
- Who do we need to share that information with?
- How should it be communicated?
- Who will be responsible for the communication?
Creating working partnerships with all stakeholders (staff, students, families and the community) is critical when planning as a collaborative approach increases chances of successful implementation.
For staff this can include increasing ownership and feeling supported. For students and families this includes inclusivity, promoting student and family voice and building student social competencies.
How information is shared and feedback obtained depends on the intended audience.
Examples on how to best engage stakeholders include:
- Staff: focus group process, small voluntary work groups, all staff review, staff discussions and revisions, new staff inductions.
- Students and families: as team members (ideal but not always possible), regular communication, surveys, face to face meetings, newsletters, website.
Managing resistance to change
Unfortunately change can be difficult due to sporadic projects or fragmented efforts that result in feelings of overload by many schools and staff. This has been termed ‘initiative fatigue’.
Strategies to help address resistance to change:
- Teachers must believe the changes will make a difference.
- Several types of support are needed.
- Teachers must see what is expected and believe it will work.
- Stakeholders must be involved in the decision making.
- Staff expertise must be respected.
- Understand and improve upon potentially poor prior experiences to change.
As a leadership team you must be prepared for this and ensure that:
- Data is collected, reviewed and communicated.
- Ongoing training and support is provided.
- Team members are modelling quality practice.
- Input from stakeholders is taken on board and valued.
- Staff expertise is valued and utilised.
- Change is a positive process.