Become A Lead Learner and Foster a Culture of Learning

In today's ever-changing world, it is more important than ever for school leaders to be lead learners. Lead learners are not only experts in their field, but they are also constantly learning and growing. They are always looking for new ways to improve their practice and to help their students learn.

When school leaders are lead learners, they set a positive example for their staff and students. They show that learning is important and that it is never too late to learn something new. They also create a culture of continuous improvement, where everyone is always looking for ways to do better. Lead learners: 

  • Invest in relationships. Communities need school leaders who understand the direct impact leadership has on school culture. They want leaders who prioritize learning and who lead with heart. Although there are dozens of places to start building relationships in a school community, our primary focus should always be the children, so start there. As a school leader, get to know all of your students. At the beginning of the school day stand at the door and greet students. Offer a handshake or high-five. This small greeting goes a long way in building relationships with students. 
  • Collaborate in decision making to establish trust. We must also develop relationships with adults: teachers, custodians, secretaries, families, teacher aides, bus drivers, and all other members of the school community need to feel confident in shared trust and respect. Decisions should rarely be made in isolation; instead, all members of the school community should have some voice, and it is your responsibility to listen to others—to be present—in order to broaden your perspective and make the best decisions possible.
  • Provide and receive feedback. Find out how things are going in general by sending a question to staff, students, or families. You can do this via a Google Form, a Twitter poll, or an email. Your question might be geared toward anything from getting a sense of staff morale to learning about community concerns. Follow up on the information you glean from the responses. As a school leader and lead leaner, provide your own feedback as well. Sit it on a teacher's class for fifteen minutes and offer helpful advice to them when you see them. Understand that these visits to classrooms are opportunities to build relationships, to understand how learning unfolds in your school, and to inform your practice so you can support the community effectively. 

Embrace being a lead learner and you will be well on your way to creating a school where everyone is learning and growing. As a lead learner, you want to help develop a school culture of learning. 

The positive impact of an accessible school leader who communicates well and relates well with others circulates throughout the entire system. Clear, consistent communication fosters transparency so all members of the school community share important information. Whether the communication is about curricular decisions that affect teachers or changes in policy that concern students and their families, if leaders communicate in a genuine way, the trust they earn contributes to an even more positive environment. 

Portions of this section were excerpted from Hacking Leadership

Lead learners can establish a culture of learning in their school by implementing several strategies and fostering an environment that promotes continuous growth and development. Here are some key approaches:

  1. Modeling a Growth Mindset: Lead learners should demonstrate and encourage a growth mindset among staff and students and the community. This involves embracing challenges, valuing effort and perseverance, embracing mistakes as learning opportunities, and believing in the potential for growth and improvement.

  2. Collaborative Professional Learning Communities: Lead learners can establish professional learning communities (PLCs) where teachers, parents, and community members come together to share ideas, collaborate, and engage in ongoing discussion about the development of school culture. PLCs provide a platform for exchanging best practices, discussing challenges, and collectively seeking solutions to enhance teaching and learning.

  3. Encouraging Reflective Practice: Lead learners should promote a culture of reflection among staff. This can be achieved by incorporating regular opportunities for teachers to reflect on their instructional practices, analyze student outcomes, and make adjustments based on evidence-based insights.

  4. Promoting Student Engagement and Agency: Lead learners should prioritize student engagement and agency by involving students in the learning process. This can be achieved through project-based learning, inquiry-based approaches, student-led discussions, and opportunities for student voice and choice. By empowering students to take ownership of their learning, lead learners create a culture that values active participation and fosters a love for learning.

  5. Building Partnerships and Community Engagement: Lead learners can establish partnerships with parents, community organizations, and local businesses to create a supportive learning ecosystem. Involving the community in the school's learning initiatives helps broaden opportunities for students and provides real-world connections to their education.

By creating a school culture focused on learning, school leaders can help their students reach their full potential. Read more on becoming a lead learner and establishing your school's culture in Hacking Leadership

Main post image by fauxels via Pexels

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