Oh. my. word. The 2018 ECIS Library Triennial was an amazing, wonderful learning and social experience hosted by the American International School of Chennai, India.
The last ECIS librarians conference I attended was in Istanbul 7 years ago which had me hooked. I could not attend the last one due to work restraints and was very disappointed. These conferences are the total bomb with regards to the high level of presentations, thinking and practices being shared over the 2 days by International School Librarians. This particular group of librarians are special people. Generally many have left their home country to live in another country, often moving every two to four years, becoming part of the global citizen mobile teaching fraternity. In many cases, their schools are well funded with the library seen and supported as being an integral part of the school, a showcase piece and the school librarian is an integral part of the faculty. This means they often have staff to support them with the everyday tasks of running, and they have time and money to play and experiment. They embrace change just by being willing to move to try a new country, school or challenge on. Not all are fortunate to have this total package, but many do.
This international school context of school librarians opens opportunities for experimentation with time to think and time to reflect on best practice, and thankfully they are willing to share with their colleagues across the globe. Many already connect online via social media and it was an absolute pleasure meeting some face to face for the first time, and for others, an exciting reunion.
I participated in four days of the conference, and will write a series of posts more for me to synthesise my learning than for anyone reading this blog. This post will focus on day one which was a leadership institute facilitated by the AIS Chennai leadership team of Andrew A Hoover, AIS Chennai Head of School. Joelle Basnight AIS Chennai Head High School Principal, Kirsten Welbes, AIS Chennai Head Director of Advancement, Keryn Dowling, AIS Chennai Head Elementary School Principal
It was a privilege to learn from these education and leadership professionals.
The first session of the day was : Cultivating Self-Awareness: Navigating the Social Landscapes of Leadership led by Andrew Hoover. We started off by getting our heads around what leadership actually is and isn't. There were a couple of key statements made
"Leadership needs to be practiced & learned", "Leadership is about action with vision". Management on the other hand is about ensuring operational processes run smoothly this was a nice distinction between the two.
"What do people need from me today?" This question is one that leaders need to ask of themselves each morning to be most effective in being a leader.
There are also leadership frames :
- Purpose : - what is effective leadership?
- People :- How can we best engage others?
- Perspective : - How can we evolve as leaders?
- Productivity :- How to get the right things done?
If there is no change in a leader they are not living leadership.
|These memes were used as a discussion starter about leadership & what it means to lead.|
To live leadership you must have the following characteristics.:
Andrew then told a few analogies about being optimistic and creative problem solving as a leader one of these is the 18th Camel.
"What you believe, will power what you do"
We then moved into analysing our own leadership styles from 6 that were given, below is a very concise snapshot of these leadership styles. For more information see this link to Edith Cowan University. (use the term Participatory for Democratic and Directive for Commanding).
This quite a lot of fun as people self identified the type of leader they thought they were... we had three who identified as Pace setters in the room, and this was no surprise!
It has been identified that 4 of these leaderships styles are imperative for people to respond in a positive way toward a leader : directive, participatory, affiliative and coaching.
We did conclude that the leadership styles were interchangeable with context, and that it would be very difficult to use just one style across all contexts.
As a leader we need to know how to communicate, Andrew gave us some tips :
- Whenever we speak with certainty either through words or tone or even through using the words "In my opinion..." it closes communication down.
- If we communicate using questions, or with uncertainty, it opens doors to communication. He advised us "to stay open to what is happening around you." Be present or "presencing".
Andrew asked another pertinent question : "How can you help others to help you?" What can you ensure happens or does not happen to keep this type of relationship happening? Working with difficult people was the next topic, with Andrew telling us to listen to the angry people, as they will have a perspective that you may not have thought about that may lead to innovation.
We watched a short clip from Tom Peters on how to embrace the angry person and embracing this emotion to move things forward.
We also discussed what prevents us from moving forward in our professional lives - see the image below. I think these points are quite pertinent for school librarians - what is holding you back?
Overall, this was an excellent session exploring leadership and analysing how it may work in a school library context.
After the break we participated in Planning and Running Effective Meetings which flowed into systems of communication. Joelle Basnight and Kirsten Welbes facilitated this session.
Joelle and Kirsten used the strategies of Adaptive schools throughout and it was an excellent illustration of how these strategies can enhance any learning experience and meetings. There is a downloadable app that can be searched as well as a website from the Thinking Collaborative people. Many of the staff at AIS Chennai have been trained in the adaptive schools strategies, and as result there is a culture of using these strategies throughout the school.
The first item was to go through the elements of a well run meeting - having an agenda. we were informed the session would include working agreements, norms of collaboration, ways of talking, decision making, strategy harvest and organise and integrate our learning.
Working agreements need to be visible and apparent in all meetings and think tanks - perhaps even classrooms. We did not spend a lot of time on this topic, however it was stressed that stating a working agreement at the beginning of a meeting or class can really enhance engagement and mutual respect. Here is a link to a PDF of a working agreement example.
After this we moved into the 7 norms of collaboration. These 7P norms are taught throughout the school and are employed whenever appropriate. Resources explaining these norms can be found here.
Pausing (allows for reflection, thinking and best response)
Paraphrasing (allows for clarity, to open doors for communication)
Posing questions (explore and specifies thinking and direction)
Putting ideas on the table (with the intention of type of idea it is)
Providing data (supports group in constructing shared understandings)
Pay attention to self and others (aware of what is said along with how is said and how others are responding)
Presume positive intentions. (facilitates meaningful dialogue and eliminates putdowns and bullying)
We had some learning around these norms and best practice:
- Suspend judgement until it is time for dialogue
- Ensure there is shared understanding
- Ideas are physically put on the table with an arm movement.
- Once on the table an idea becomes the groups idea - no longer any individuals idea.
- There should be a common language
- There should be an ebb and flow of ideas and dialogue, no one person should dominate
- Dialogue is what leads to discussion and decision making.
We then were shepherded into examining decisions making and the process of how decisions are made in an organisation. We had to vote with stickers on which corner we thought was the most important, then stand by and justify our decisions. An excellent thought provoking activity.
At the end of the session we reviewed all the learning strategies that had been employed throughout the session - it was quite an eye opener how many had been used in 2 hours.
After lunch we were delighted to hear short Ignite Sessions from Kim Beeman (Three Tools for capturing student interest and understanding" - esp loved Mentimeter), Philip Williams (Finding complexity in school systems) , Nadine Bailey (Supporting the Global read aloud) Pascale Viala (Building a relationship with information and Jeremy Willett on
What’s Trust Got To Do With It?: Understanding Influence and Trust
The final session of the day was a split between the above title and "Having difficult conversations". I chose the one on trust, this was again facilitated by Andrew Hoover. A few thoughts and takeaways below ...
Trust is a vital energy source
Is trust in your schools mission? Explicit or implied?
Having a clear mission is imperative to developing trust
It takes a village to create trust
Collaboration creates trust
Any organisation needs trust to move forward
To be trusted you must first trust
Trust can be demonstrated, not assessed.
Trust is built on what you say and what you do
There are a number of different types of trust :
Organic trust: base don unquestioning unconditional feelings or beliefs (ie religion)
Contractual trust : legal or commonly held expectations
Relation trust : social relations requiring consistent attention & maintenance.
The building of trust enhances an individuals and organisational performance.
What do people expect of me??
Facets of trust - Caring, competence, communication.
Being visible outside of your own head. Show trust!!
Be intentional in building trust through actions.
And that was day 1. Three to go!!