A key challenge facing principals right now is how to thrive in their complex and dynamic roles amid the extraordinary changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As leaders at the coalface, principals are often skilled at adapting to new realities and environments, but few could have been prepared for the monumental changes that have upended the education sector.
One organisation that has been making strides in helping educators navigate the complexities of this crisis is ACEL, which supports the development of educational leadership capabilities across Australia
Below, The Educator speaks to ACEL CEO Aasha Murthy about how principals can remain focussed and effective during this extraordinary time.
TE: The most senior education leaders are trained to be adaptive, but this crisis has surely been a curveball for even the most experienced principals. How do you believe leaders can remain focused and effective during this extraordinary and unprecedented time?
AM: We live in a new and uncertain universe of unprecedented volatility, and unrelenting complexity that I call the iConnected paradigm. Prescient leadership in this new and uncertain universe needs to be mindful, responsive, resilient, and authentic. A “futures mindset” with three generative dimensions - Focussed Attention, Collaborative Spirit, and Collective Wisdom - makes such a transformative repertoire of behaviour and action possible. Focussed Attention, energises cognitive understanding of issues, even as it dampens “in-the-moment” visceral reactions. Collaborative Spirit predisposes leaders to seek communal and cooperative solutions to life’s challenges, and Collective Wisdom champions the enabling power of the “collective mind” and “collective consciousness” – the wisdom of crowds. For more on the iConnected world, the three dimension of leaders’ “futures” mindset, and the five ways of Being that bring it to life, I refer you to our book, ‘Being! – Five Ways of Leading Authentically in an iConnected World’.
TE: You noted that ACEL have responded very proactively to the current situation. Can you elaborate on this?
AM: Over the past few years, we have been steadily building our technology platform to increase engagement with our members and customers and also support a range of professional development options. While we have had to cancel/postpone a number of events, we were able to pivot quickly and turn our attention to our digital offering and add more online resources, publications and events. We now offer complimentary public access to a wide range of resources to support educators while they are sequestered due to guidelines imposed by the Government. Since our staff were already set up to work remotely, we have been able to continue our work without any disruption.
TE: I understand that ACEL has a digital professional development package. In your view, what are some of the most outstanding elements of this package for school leaders who are navigating this challenging environment?
AM: In addition to the complimentary resources available to all educators, we have launched two digital professional development packages. The Gold Package provides access to our online Resource Centre, the Leaders Lounge, which contains videos and podcasts featuring leading thinkers and all webinars presented by leading experts like Lyn Sharratt, Todd Whitaker, Barbara Blackburn among others. The Platinum Package has the additional benefit of access to our range of digital ‘Resources in Action’. Both these packages are available as a 12-month subscription, so you can sign up any time. These packages are designed for educators in regional/remote settings as well as those who are time poor and unable to attend face to face events. They can watch, read, engage and connect from their devices anywhere, anytime!