“HE KAIWHAKARITE – MANAGER
E kore te matau e rawe ki te moana takai ai, engari anö a uta
effective and efficient management of people, environments and education that transforms teaching and learning communities
The kaiwhakarite leadership role involves effective and efficient management of the operational aspects of the kura, with a focus on systems that support its educational goals. The kaiwhakarite role includes managing people, resources, administrative systems and teaching and learning programmes to produce outcomes that positively transform learning communities. The kaiwhakarite manages change; builds capacity in key roles; fosters a culture of positive collaboration, commitment, motivation and deepened learning; and raises expectations in order to bring about continuous improvement and success for learners.”
I ran a starter activity yesterday for our HOD meeting; for some it was the first time they had seen the Tū Rangatira document, so I paired people up, gave each pair one of the key roles of leadership and asked them to discuss and then feedback to the group including: a summary of the role, some examples of the role in practice, some ideas about how as a group of middle leaders we might be more effective in these roles.
My comment to my partner when we turned over He Kaiwhakarite was ‘this is my least favourite of the seven roles’. Why? Because that word ‘manager’ just really grates me; I cannot get past some really negative connotations when I hear the word; especially when it is paired with the word ‘people’. By the end of the discussion with my colleague, she had helped me to look at the role with a far more positive lens, and I am very grateful for the opportunities to engage in these powerful learning conversations.
However despite having a more positive understanding of the role, I still have to disagree with the idea of managing people – resources and systems, yes; people, no. Managing people feels to me like something that you do ‘to’ them, whereas leading people feels like something that you do ‘with’ people and supports that idea of collaboration and collective responsibility for leading teaching and learning. Steve Keating (August, 2014) wrote in his blog ‘If you want to be a better manager then learn something about stuff, if your intent is to become a better leader then learn something about (your) people’. And that is it in a nutshell for me – we manage stuff, but we lead people.
My fellow HOD helped me to understand the importance of managing systems and resources in order to support our people to do their jobs well. People feel safe and secure, and able to focus on their core business when they know they are supported by transparent processes and policies. The role of He Kaiwhakarite is to ensure there are no surprises for our staff, and that information is communicated clearly and in a timely manner. In the same way resources need to be managed so that people feel equipped to provide quality teaching and learning experiences that meet the needs of their ākonga.
I love the idea of teaching and learning programmes that produce ‘outcomes that positively transform learning communities.’ That is really powerful! Having just been through a journey of reviewing and improving our junior HPE teaching and learning programme, I know how exciting it can be when you then start to see improved outcomes – staff feel more empowered and energised about their role, and learners are engaged, achieving and developing key competencies. But this was not something that I could do ‘to’ my team; I couldn’t go in and say this is what we are going to do. Instead it was a whole department collaboration where we asked ourselves some really challenging questions and then worked together to ‘raise expectations in order to bring about continuous improvement and success for learners’. For me the biggest sense of achievement and satisfaction from this journey was that it started out through a conversation with my Assistant HOD, and it was something that we led together; then it was strengthened even further when we collected more staff and learner voice, and collectively we all took responsibility for leading change within our teaching practice.
I look forward to hearing how others reflect on this leadership role.