Empowering middle leaders
Teachers don’t need a title to lead, but they do need support
To achieve ambitious strategic goals, Michael Iannini argues that international schools need to empower more staff to ‘lead from the middle’.
Plans for 2023-24
Many international schools will have set very ambitious goals for this year. From plans to expand their student body and boost academic results, to increasing diversity in hiring practices and providing more rigorous professional development opportunities—schools of every type and size are determined to make major improvements this year.
So, how can you align your own professional growth agenda with your school’s development objectives? How by scratching their back, can you satisfy your itch?
Here are just a few examples of the huge ambitions many international schools have for 2023-24, which you can leverage for your own growth prospects:
1. Expanding Student Bodies: Schools are not exempt from competitive forces within their markets and the laws governing them, especially when their underpinning resources, budgets, are tightly tied to student enrolment and the public perception of the quality of the school’s services.
2. Improving Academic Performance Outcomes: International schools have a laundry list of projects that were interrupted by the pandemic, and have added greatly to that list with a number of things they learned from the pandemic.
3. Creating Professional Development Opportunities: Schools are keen to offer more diversified and comprehensive professional development opportunities for teachers and staff, such as instructional coaching, workshops, and mentorship programs.
Collaboration, cultivation & contribution = celebration
International schools have many goals, but they also need the individuals with the confidence to realise them. Too often, it can seem daunting for individual teachers and staff members to take ownership of these big ideas – but you don’t need a title to lead! Every person has their own unique talents that can be used to make a positive impact on their school. Whether it be liaising with parents or developing workshops about differentiated learning, schools have a wealth of human resources they need to tap into.
It follows that schools need to empower more middle leaders to take ownership of larger, more ambitious goals, which require a greater degree of collaboration. Leadership does not need to come from individual roles – it can be cultivated in groups and amongst teachers and staff. By creating an environment where everyone is encouraged to share their ideas and insights, schools can build a stronger sense of collaboration and trust that encourages staff to take greater ownership of important initiatives and projects.
This will help to ensure that school goals are meaningfully achieved and that everyone is contributing to the success of the school’s mission. With strong middle leadership, international schools can create an environment where ambition is encouraged and innovation is celebrated. By empowering more people with responsibility for owning school goals more ‘big ideas’ will be realized in 2023 and beyond.
As we look ahead to the opportunities and possibilities of 2023-24, it’s important to remember that the best way to develop leaders is to entrust promising talent with opportunities to lead. By creating an environment where everyone can be part of driving change and ambition, international schools have a chance to make real progress this year. Here’s to making it a wonderful and successful 2023-24!
He is also author of Hidden in Plain Sight: Realizing the Full Potential of Middle Leaders. You can learn more about Michael and how to develop Middle Leaders by visiting his website www.middleleader.com
“Michael’s book will equip and inspire leaders as they learn the art of transformational collaboration.” – Dr. Chris Jansen, Leadership Lab, University of Canterbury, New Zealand