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A’la Michael Fullan and the Ontario Principals’ Council

By Christine Mason

I am in Toronto, meeting with  NAESP’s affiliate — the Ontario Principals’ Council –and ruminating on Michael Fullan’s work: Stratosphere, The New Meaning of Educational Change, and the Moral Imperative of School Leadership, to name a few.

I am also reflecting on Fullan’s presentation at the NAESP conference in Baltimore where he walked onto stage and spoke without notes and barely glancing at his slides. A true master’”a genius in so many ways.  At NAESP, he spoke of his “5 Cs” from his book Professional Capital:

  1. Capability (expertise)

  2. Commitment

  3. Career

  4. Culture

  5. Contexts or conditions of teaching

Examining this, I find so much to learn from. His 5 Cs certainly hit on the need for committed teachers and principals who are competent, who grow during their careers, who build culture, and create a healthy environment for learning. I am reflecting on some of the similarities with the 5 Cs that are the heart of CEI’s Heart Centered Education and Leadership (consciousness, confidence, compassion, courage, and community).  CEI’s world view of education extends beyond schools to creating and sustaining cross-cultural communities of caring, compassion, courage, confidence, and consciousness. Not unlike creating, as Fullan advises, cultures and contexts for learning and teaching. In a way, this is instructional leadership for the planet.

To lead. The confidence of teachers and principals impacts their capability and their leadership. As a teacher I always knew, almost instinctively, that in addition to nurturing, support and my knowledge/skills, that students who were struggling could benefit from my confidence in my ability to teach, to help them grow. My confidence in myself as a teacher and my confidence in them– that together we could advance, even as they were struggling. As an educational leader, I intentionally bring a similar sense of confidence to my work with the teams I have led over the years.  For one does not lead with a message of confusion or doubt. That is the antithesis of leadership. Rather courage to speak of visions, to create consciousness regarding our capabilities, is critical. How is confidence promoted in your school?

Where is the fuel? Once your work is underway, what is needed to keep staff committed, to keep their motivation high? As Fullan has noted so many times the passion of leaders and teachers helps to create a culture of learning.  Passion can fuel consciousness, community, compassion, and compassionate actions. A cycle of passion and building capability (and confidence) can lead to commitment and more. When principals consider their instructional leadership, it might behoove us to reflect on Fullan and work on building a culture that supports the capability and commitment of staff…self-assessment, reflection, and shared leadership are all a part of this formula.


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