Chris Blake, Principal Penola Catholic College, Broadmeadows, VIC
During the formal SIF school review in 2010, one of the issues that came out was that staff engagement and working in teams should be improved.
One aspect that was highlighted was that staff feel they work well individually but that they don’t work well in teams.
In May 2011, I attended the Principals’ Conference, and met John Corrigan of Group 8 Education at his stand.
What piqued my interest in the “Performance Development and Coaching” program that John offers was its support around improving team work for teachers.
At a later stage, during a principal’s review, someone suggested to me that I should have a closer look at the work John’s doing.
Because I had already spoken to John before, I decided to make contact with John and meet with him. This was in September 2011.
John explained what the program involved and what it was based on. My colleagues and I were very impressed regarding what John had to say and quite excited at the prospect of the various aspects of the program.
We then spoke to the members of the executive team after which John came out and made a presentation to all of us. That’s when we decided to proceed with the program.
The philosophical under pinning of the program and the theory makes sense to us, and it ties in with what we know.
The ultimate aim is to improve student results of course. However the PD&C program provides us with to improve staff engagement. We’ve also found the feedback component of the program very attractive.
The other attraction was that the PD&C program isn’t onerous in terms of workload.
We started the implementation in the 4th term of 2011, and the “real” work – feedback and coaching sessions were put in place in early 2012.
There was a bit of resistance from our middle leadership because they were asked to take on the coaching roles.
This issue hasn’t gone away just yet. There still is a small group that has concerns regarding the coaching sessions and how it would add to their workload.
However, I’m not really concerned with that, because last year’s feedback from most teachers was positive. What I’ve noticed is that there is greater acceptance of people having collegial conversations.
As a coach myself, I feel that the coaching has helped to build relationships among staff which is one of the great positives that has come out of the program.
People sitting down with each other, exploring the various issues that are on their minds builds better collegiality.
It also seems to me that the leadership team is more open to new approaches and initiatives. In small ways I can see people embracing and welcoming feedback.
Every teacher is now given feedback from their students. For many teachers it would have been the first time they’ve ever received feedback. Most were pleasantly surprised by what they found out.
All of the above is anecdotal evidence at this stage. Because it is early days we don’t have any tangible results.
One change we want to introduce in 2013 is providing feedback to middle leaders, and it appears that they are looking forward to that.
The Performance Development & Coaching program also gives the entire team a structured way to plan changes of some particular aspect of their work.
Over time we want to become independent of John’s support and deliver and apply the program independently.
However in the meantime, John is still here to support and guide us with his knowledge and the material he’s collated and created over time.
My team and I have found John to be easy to work with and he’s been very supportive, nothing is ever too much trouble. He’s always very accommodating.
We like the program, and are happy to have chosen to implement it. I can’t think of anything that would stop us from continuing with the program.