#EvolveSchool - Thought! The Impact of Leadership in Addressing Change


The last year has been an inspiring and challenging roller-coaster in my life as Acting Head of the Thandulwazi Maths and Science Academy at St Stithians College. I feel privileged to have been afforded this opportunity to lead the Academy for the last year. As you may know when I was teaching at St Stithians, I headed up the Thandulwazi Rokunda Teacher and Leader Development Programme Co-ordinator, from Jan 2006 to December 2015, under umbrella of St Stithians Foundation initially, and later under the Thandulwazi Trust. The teacher development programme was my baby, and so being asked to stand in and assist by the leading of the entire Academy was an honour. The Academy includes a wide range of community engagement and upskilling programmes, for both adults and students

  • Thandulwazi Teacher and Leader Development - Gauteng (1000+ attendees)

  • Thandulwazi Teacher Development -Sekhukhune, Limpopo (300+ attendees)

  • Thandulwazi ECD Development - Modimolle, Limpopo (200+ attendees - new project)

  • Thandulwazi Saturday School Gr 9-12 (1200+ attendees)

  • Thandulwazi Teacher-Intern Programme (40+ Interns across 5 St Stithians Schools)

  • Thandulwazi Scholarship Programme (6 recipients 3 boys and 3 girls in St Stithians Boys College and Girls College’s respectively)

The beneficiaries of these programmes regularly share and comment about the positive impact the programmes are making on their individual lives. As the Acting Head organisations frequently request access and knowledge sharing to become involved with the Academy, as they see the value in these programmes.

Over the year I have become aware of the divergent situations and circumstances I have found myself in and have had to address. From a school leadership point of view the traits I had acquired over the years as being a teacher, Academic Head and teacher developer stood me in good stead and assisted me in my decision making in the last few months. I would like to share the five key leadership traits I leaned upon regularly during the last year:

  • Problem-solving, each week issues and challenges arose within the various programmes. Solving the problem, by assessing and addressing the needs, engaging with team members and devising workable solutions. Being able to adapt, think critically and come up with workable solutions for meaningful engagements to take place timeously was vital.

  • Building Leadership in Others. Trusting and empowering the Team, the team was very small. By supporting programme coordinators, and allowing them to express their own ideas, to decide on solutions, and interacting collaboratively positively impacted the various programmes.

  • Improving Technology Systems. Introducing the use of technology and online tools to record information, meant easier access to data and resulted in more effective reporting. When using online tools, the team could share information and view the most up to date information and data. This resulted in time being saved and greater accuracy of information.

  • Managing people, creating an environment of open debate. Since the programmes were so large, it meant there were large numbers of presenters and teachers. Allowing people to communicate viewpoints via email, listening to the viewpoints of others in conversation, holding large group meetings afforded people the opportunity to express their ideas. With the large numbers of people, ensuring logistical systems were in place that people know where to go, what was expected and at the same time creating an atmosphere and environment of respect for others.

  • Futurist Thinking, in the busyness of the day-today planning, organising and reporting, to continually be thinking about the vision and future of the programmes and what would be most beneficial to the growth and sustainability of the various programmes. Interacting with stakeholders, debating and exchanging ideas of long term possibilities. The world is continually changing, so as an educationalist I believe I should be continually be exploring, learning and finding out about the change, and then extract and evaluate how that would impact education.

The role as Acting Head of Thandulwazi benefitted my personal growth as an educational leader, reinforced my belief in the importance of educational change and the positive impact education has on the lives of individuals no matter how young or old the individuals may be. May the Thandulwazi continue to grow from strength to strength. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Thandulwazi Trust, St Stithians College and Dr. Tim Nuttall for this opportunity.

I work with schools, focusing on educational change. love to hear your thoughts, please reach out to me on info@karenwalstraconsulting.co.za

#Leadership #Education #learn #change #school #SchoolLeader #Principal

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