Yr 6 Leadership Assembly

For me, the past week has involved a lot of thinking about leadership. Walking my dog early this morning, I found myself wondering who is the leader in this particular relationship. After some consideration, I concluded that I am the leader on our walks, but that I sometimes nobly let her think that she is. I certainly know that I am the worrier of the two of us - I often worry whether she has enough to think about to make her life meaningful, given that her days are not overly exciting. Each day starts when we wake up at about 5am and involves her being forced to listen to my Hebrew reading practice followed by breakfast, a walk and then spending most of the day on her own. But when I think about it, she is probably quite happy to sleep all day and she does get two decent meals per day as well as a walk in the morning and one in the evening. If it is true that dogs have similar brain functions to a three-year-old, then perhaps pontificating about the meaning of her life isn’t something which bothers her too much.

My thinking about leadership started with the Year 6 leadership assembly last Friday, in which our oldest Primary School students shared with the audience the investigations they have been carrying out into the meaning of leadership and related their findings to specific people within our community. All of our Year 6 students have embarked on their personal leadership journeys and they will encounter many opportunities to lead over the coming months. I suspect they will enjoy some aspects of leadership whilst finding others more mundane and others more challenging. People rarely talk about the less glamorous aspects of leadership - the picking up of litter to set a good example, or the days when you would really like to show how grumpy you feel but can’t because of the effect this would have on others. In my Principal’s address at the assembly, I shared with the Year 6 students my thoughts on good leaders:

For me, a good leader:

Is curious - they ask lots of questions

Is connected -they have a network of people in their community that they work with. Not just one or two people, but lots of people to talk to, to help, to seek help from.

A good leader has integrity (they are honest and always do the right thing, even when nobody’s looking).

A good leader has courage. Sometimes leaders have to do things that require them to be brave. Saying “No! Don’t do that!” when you see something that’s not right is hard, but good leaders have courage.

And a good leader shows excellence. They try and try – however hard they find something. What we find hard is different for everybody, but what’s important is that we strive to be excellent at whatever we are doing.

I am often pleased with the way that our five school values align so beautifully with so many of the issues that we talk about at school.

Scholarship interviews were held this week with prospective students currently in Year 6 talking about their experiences of leadership. I like to ask students for specific examples they have encountered regarding the challenges of being a leader and I enjoyed hearing about how they felt it’s not easy to let everyone have a say and still get a job done. “I just couldn’t get them all to agree on what I wanted”, was one of my favourite comments.

Carmel School is proud to provide the opportunity for some teachers to start building a network of fellow educators in AHISA’s Aspirant Leaders program as part of their leadership skills development. And last night, I represented Carmel School at the first AISWA Women in Educational Leadership network meeting of the year. It was a lovely chance to meet up with women aiming to develop their leadership skills and perhaps lead a school of their own, one day. I liked Michelle Obama’s urging us not to slam shut the “doorway of opportunity” behind us, but to reach back and give others the same chances that we found helpful. In particular, she has spoken about the need for women to reach back and help other women, since men are reputedly better at networking and supporting each other in their careers. I am confident that at Carmel School we are well aware of the need to support our staff (both men and women) and to provide opportunities for them to develop their professional leadership skills.

Our Student Representative Council has shown impressive leadership this week, too, disagreeing with a decision that had been made at a senior level and dealing with it in the most adult way possible – a thoughtful, carefully-argued written submission which is now under consideration and discussion by the Carmel Leadership Team. We will meet the SRC next week, commend them on their efforts and listen to what they have to say. They are already showing exemplary leadership skills.

Perhaps you can talk about leadership in your family around the Shabbat table this weekend. I am confident there will be examples your children can discuss which demonstrate occasions when they have acted as leaders, whatever their age.

Shabbat shalom and Chag Purim Sameach