How to bring more clarity into your leadership

How to bring more clarity into your leadership

In this article, The Educator speaks to a prominent education expert about how system and school leaders can use research-based practices to boost student achievement and build teacher capacity to learn, teach and lead.

Dr Lyn Sharratt, a highly accomplished practitioner, researcher, author, and presenter, coordinates the doctoral internship program in Leadership, Higher and Adult Education Department at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.

As well as working in remote and urban settings worldwide, Dr Sharratt consults internationally, working with system, school, and teacher leaders at all levels in Australia, Canada, Chile, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US.

Between November 19-26, November, Dr Sharratt will hold a series of workshops designed bring clarity to the elements that sharpen precision-in-practice ensures knowing 'where to next'.

The workshop, ‘Clarity: What Matters Most in Learning, Teaching and Leading’ is based on a set of interrelated concepts deployed within an evidence-proven framework and implemented consistently and reflectively across systems, schools and classrooms.

Dr Sharratt’s research in Ontario – specifically in the York Region District School Board – was highlighted in her first book with Dr. Michael Fullan, titled: ‘Realization: The Change Imperative for District-Wide Reform’.

“[This research] underscores the importance of alignment throughout the system, schools and classrooms, citing impactful practices at every level within a well-researched, evidence-proven Framework of System and School Improvement that we call the 14 Parameters,” Dr Sharratt told The Educator.

“My subsequent four books build on that solid foundation we established. The writing and ongoing research in clarity highlights the following 10 ‘Lessons Learned’ from using those 14 Parameters as a self-assessment tool.”

According to Dr Sharratt, system and school leaders must:

  1. Develop a shared vision of high-expectations and shared responsibility and accountability for all learners at every level (Parameters #1 and #14);
  2. Know and own all FACES in their care (Parameters #1 and #14);
  3. Use data to set ambitious targets through co-construction of Data Walls AND the implementation of fortnightly Case Management Meetings which are short, sharp and targeted on instruction (Parameter #6);
  4. Ensure that there is at least one ‘Knowledgeable Other’ in every school who works alongside teachers and leaders and who is the ‘glue’ to align where the system is going and how the schools can progress towards it, often achieving more than what was ever thought possible (Parameter #2);
  5. Expect consistent classroom practices beginning by making curriculum expectations and standards explicit for all learners (Parameter #3);
  6. Demand all teachers become intervention teachers who embrace assessment literacy practices as the heart of improvement in classrooms, schools and systems (Parameter #5)
  7. Become more expert in what are the most impactful classroom practices through ongoing, whole-school or whole-system Collaborative Inquiry (Parameter #11, #9)
  8. Improve both Primary and Secondary schools by doing “The Work” of measuring impactful literacy practices across subject disciplines (Parameters # 3 and #13)
  9. Involve all parents and community partners in ensuring success for all students (Parameter #12)
  10. Lead Professional Learning alongside in-school and out-of-school ‘experts’ and articulate clear expectations that ‘learning for all’ is embedded in the school culture, and staff, including principals, see themselves as learning leaders who collaboratively lead learning organizations (Parameters #4, #7, #8)

Dr Sharratt said these 10 lessons resulted from systems and schools self-assessing against the 14 Parameters.

“I know it takes time to achieve the capacity to authentically, using data, self-assess against the 14 Parameters,” she said.

However, Dr Sharratt said: “the tangible results, when the actions are woven together – not necessarily in a lock-step manner – create a culture of learning that embraces equity and excellence – a necessary given in this world of inequity and compliance.”

“Finally, the importance of leadership at every level in improving student achievement through this work must never be underestimated,” she said.

Dr Sharratt said it is critical that leaders:

  • model a focus on ‘learning with others’ at every opportunity as that makes a difference to increasing ALL students’ growth and achievement; and
  • conduct Learning Walks and Talks (Sharratt, 2008-2019) daily because they are relevant and indispensable in measuring leaders’ own impact on increasing student achievement; and
  • provide observational data which, when assembled over time, offer real, descriptive feedback to teachers and ‘Knowledgeable Others’ who, in turn, provide ‘just-in-time’ Professional Learning alongside colleagues.

Dr Sharratt shared what she considered to be the most powerful benefits of the ‘Clarity: What Matters Most in Learning, Teaching and Leading’ workshops for Australian K-12 school leaders.

“My leadership journey to realizing and writing clarity began by stating the obvious: illiteracy is unacceptable. The percentage of illiterate citizens currently around the world is too high,” Dr Sharratt said.

“Astonishing as it may seem in the 21st century, 12% of the world’s population is considered functionally illiterate, with only basic or below-basic literacy levels in their native languages.”

According to 2018 figures from the International Literacy Association, 781 million people across the globe still cannot read or write and One 126 million youth worldwide are illiterate. 

“Clarity is about learning, teaching and leading practices that make a difference for all students, Primary and Secondary, in realizing how to read, write, do maths and think critically,” Dr Sharratt said.

“Clarity is value-add as the text and workshops are not only about high-impact approaches that work, but how each one works best. Clarity and the subsequent ACEL workshops are practical, user-friendly, and grounded in current, evidence-based practices.”

Dr Sharratt said her focus remains on teachers and leaders working together to analyse and unpack easy-to-understand student data and creating ‘what if questions’ and ‘aha moments’.

“It is about collaborating on and measuring interventions and strategies to improve growth and achievement for all,” she said.

“Clarity and the ACEL workshops feature successful examples from across Australia which become the tools to empower schools and systems to build on their teachers’ and leaders’ expertise in informing and shaping improvement, resulting in equity and excellence for all.”

Conference location and dates

  • Albury, 19th November 2019
  • Sydney, 20th November 2019
  • Brisbane, 21st November 2019
  • Cairns, 22nd November 2019
  • Perth, 25th November 2019
  • Kalgoorlie, 26th November 2019

For more information, please click here.