This month we hear from Donna Wynn, a Principal Project Officer from the Queensland Department of Education. Recently involved in the development and facilitation of the Queensland Department of Education Early Childhood Education and Care Metropolitan Region Educational Leader Professional Program, Donna provides an overview of the intensive six-month program.
The Educational Leader Professional Program was developed in response to an identified need within the metropolitan region to support educational leaders’ professional development and understanding of Quality Area 1 – Educational program and practice and Quality Area 7 – Governance and leadership, specifically Standard 7.2.
Now in the final phase of delivery, the program has engaged and supported 40 educational leaders.
The comprehensive six-month program adopted a range of professional activities and a multilayered approach to leadership learning and development incorporating workshops, webinars, workplace tasks, reflective practice and professional conversations. Some key aspects of the program included:
Introduction day – An introduction day was held to welcome participants and provide an overview of the objectives and structure of the program. The day included professional workshops and presentations exploring topics including: leadership, coaching and mentoring, emotional intelligence, leading and influencing change and unpacking the role of the educational leader.
Webinars – Monthly professional practice webinars, delivered by experienced education and care practitioners, were provided throughout the course of the program. The webinars focused predominately on educational program and practice including: curriculum decision-making, the assessment and planning cycle and critical reflection. A final webinar explored the role of educational leader in supporting professional development and maintaining the momentum for continuous quality improvement.
Professional conversations – One to one professional conversation sessions were an important quality characteristic of the professional program. Participants were partnered with an experienced early childhood professional and provided time and guidance to work on goals relevant to their workplace, giving them increased confidence in their professional roles and own abilities.
Workplace tasks – Evidence-based learning tasks, which complemented the monthly professional practice webinars, were provided to invite individual reflection on skill development and support participants in establishing goals for educational program and practice within their service. The workplace tasks were seen as an invaluable professional development tool that could be incorporated into the context of educator’s daily work and used to support professional collaboration and learning among service teams.
Digital space – To promote professional dialogue, networking and connection, an online collaboration space was provided where participants could pose questions, seek advice and share information and resources.
Educational Leader toolkit – Throughout thecourse of the program, participants built their own ‘Educational Leader confidence toolkit’ – a practical collection of information, workbooks, workplace activities and reflections. Principal Program Officers also developed and distributed virtual information including e-books and monthly ‘educational leader professional program quick tips’ to support key learnings and professional practice.
Throughout the professional program, participants developed their understanding of leadership through the lens of leading self, leading others and leading practice. Core competencies and concepts explored throughout the program included:
- Projecting a professional image.
- Understanding your role as a leader.
- Communicating with influence.
- Understanding self.
- Courageous decision making.
- Leading the way – team vision.
- Developing and growing the team.
- Mentoring and coaching – SMART, GROWTH and COACH models.
- Planning, organising and delegating.
- Building collaborative teams.
- Driving continuous improvement.
- Influencing practice change.
- Facilitating professional discussions.
Feedback on the program
Feedback on the Educational Leader Professional Program has been positive, with participants engaging in an array of processes and measures to support continuous quality improvement, professionalism and professional collaboration across their education and care services.
What participants are doing so far
- Developing or re-developing shared team visions.
- Applying a focus on capturing strengths and ideas of all team members.
- Ongoing reflective practice on self-awareness and awareness of others.
- Using Inquiry Cycles to collaboratively create change.
- Well-developed confidence in knowledge of the role and responsibilities of the Educational Leader.
- Deepening critically reflective practice.
- Fostering team knowledge and understanding of the components of high-quality play.
Where to now?
The Educational Leader Professional Program is in the final phase of delivery. In November there will be an official presentation ceremony and celebratory morning tea for participants of the program. As part of the event, participants will be provided with the opportunity to present on their involvement in the program, articulate their leadership stance and share the strategies they have implemented within their service to support and strengthen practice in relation to Quality Area 1 – Educational programs and practice. The event aims to highlight the important role of the educational leader in deepening shared pedagogical action and supporting transformative change.
For more information on educational leadership, you can download The Educational Leader Resource and accompanying information sheet and videos from the Educational leadership page on the ACECQA website.