Personal and Professional Leadership Development Programme

The primary objective of the Personal & Professional Leadership Development Programme is to equip school leaders with important personal, relational and leadership skills that will empower them in these areas. This programme is designed to be implemented over a two-year period with quarterly three-day workshop sessions with the school management team members. Personal and school-based tasks are carried out at school in between workshops. The programme also focuses on change and organisational culture (especially the concept of a learning organisation) as essential components that need to be addressed to ensure the success of the programme at school level.

The programme aims to empower educators on a personal and professional level through:

  • Deepening self-awareness and enhancing personal growth;
  • Focusing on the need for ‘inner' and servant leadership so as to be an influential school leader;
  • Cultivating a climate of caring, sharing, understanding, healing and community in schools;
  • Identifying conflict and challenge areas faced by educators, and empowering them to manage and resolve these;
  • Introducing key concepts, approaches, skills and strategies underpinning relational and restorative practices; and
  • Encouraging application on personal and professional level.

The programme is structured in a way that supports the mastery of key leadership skills, knowledge and values. The programme design is based on five 12-hour modules (6-hours per day):

  • Starting with Self
  • The Better Connection
  • Building Healthy Relationships
  • Engaging with Conflict
  • 5 Leading a Learning Organisation 

These modules can be offered consecutively over 10 days, but ideally should be spaced to allow time for educators to reflect over issues and engage with concepts at a school level.

The methodology used is learner-centred and reflective, and adopts a psycho-socio approach to leadership development. Different learning styles are taken into account in the course design, and a variety of approaches are used to accommodate different learning styles. Participants are encouraged to learn in a relaxed and flexible, but structured approach. This approach also views leadership development as a process as opposed to a series of once-off workshops. In keeping with effective education practice, the specified knowledge, skills and values are incrementally developed throughout the programme. Support at an individual and school level is also an integral part of this process. This is integrated into the programme process as needs arise, in between workshop sessions.

Each participant completes a personal narrative at the commencement of the programme. This forms part of the pre-post programme evaluation, and is the area where relevant participants are encouraged to engage with their narrative. In keeping with a life-coaching approach, participants are also offered personal narrative sessions where they are given space with a qualified psychologist or social worker to talk about themselves and their experiences. When the programme is offered over a longer period of time participants are encouraged to keep a personal journal. The journal provides a reflective space where they can document their personal and professional growth experiences. Dovetailed with this approach, the programme also encourages both individuals and schools to engage in the art of storytelling, and to use this powerful vehicle as a means of documenting individual growth, sharing experiences, learning from each other and other schools, and to strengthen school culture and values.

At the end of each phase the School Management Teams are required to identify key aspects of the sessions that they would like to take back to their school communities. Time is provided for the teams to plan how they will structure, present and monitor this implementation at school level. School Management Teams are also given the opportunity to tell their personal and professional implementation stories to the group at the commencement of each new session and to document these stories for future reference, reflection and sharing. At this level, the Personal & Professional Development Programme is structured to support the School Management Teams as they facilitate workshops based on what they have learnt, update visions, policies and procedures, and work towards improving their schools at a variety of levels. This support is provided primarily in the form of identifying resources, assisting with workshop facilitation, and consulting around identified areas.

This is what the participants have to say about the programme:

The series of workshops provided by GM to the Focus Schools assisted the schools' management teams a great deal:

  • It has assisted in changing the mindset of the schools' management teams as well as that of the educators in the 15 schools.
  • It has also empowered the schools with the skills and strategies of involving school communities in school activities.
  • It has also assisted the schools to be able to make a difference in their schools (Mavis Mtulu, Project Co-ordinator: Focus Schools, Port Elizabeth Department of Education).

 At school I now try to motivate and inspire my colleagues. I try to develop other people to be their best and listen to others when they are speaking. I try my best to listen to many opinions and then to make a decision (Jennifer Jaftha, GJ Louw Primary School)

I've learnt how to deal with people, how to approach things and to always be exemplary. I've learnt to trust and love the people I work with. People have problems; we must not always put ourselves in front (Osborne Mbotya, Mzimhlophe Primary School)

I have learnt that insurmountable icebergs and irritations (pickles) can be replaced and turned into something positive – that there is a way to turn something negative into something positive. For the past eighteen months the workshops inspired us with wonderful life lessons and inspired us to dream, to learn more and more (Eunice April, Bayview Primary School)

Reflecting on my lived experience and engaging in my narrative was very helpful to me, because it gave me the opportunity to think of my challenges, strengths, frustrations and dreams. I have learnt the importance of communication and to actively listen to people, and also that we need a 'toolbox' with things to inspire us through difficult times and constantly review what is in our toolbox (Fiona Theron, Bayview Primary School).

As a leader, I should lead by example. I should be a role model. I can co-ordinate events; handle conflict; negotiate; and to be responsible. I learnt more about accountability, and how to initiate development (Vivian Nondikane, Emfundweni Primary School)

I have learnt that we have to work as a team (Leadership) and that we have different temperaments which produce different capabilities which help us to achieve progress. This is the case on both personal and professional levels. Knowing each other's strengths and challenges inspires and encourages us to connect as a team (Jean Nkowane, Dumani Primary School)

I have changed my personality as an individual, e.g. being stubborn, emotional, unpunctual, etc. There is a drastic change at our school. Colleagues understood a lot from us, and professionalism has developed. We changed for the better and learners also gained a lot. The school is healthy (Abegail Ceshemba, Dumani Primary).

I feel better equipped to engage in negotiating and I am confident to resolve conflict (Mac Mackenjee, Sydnym Primary School)

Tags: Case Study School Leadership