Mass Leaderhip, Mass Change


Why put an amazing teachers on a full load? – sure they can take ‘difficult’ classes and do magical things – but maybe, just maybe if we put ‘time served’ aside, and put them into ‘every’ classroom – to team teach with ‘every’ English teacher, then they would reach hundreds more students.

As managers, leaders, risk takers, modelers and mentors, they would quickly identify and probably solve teaching and learning issues in their stride. They are connected to a global peer network, the sum knowledge of which cannot be measured in traditional HR ways. The HR people will want to define ‘amazing’ for one, then want to know if they are 5 year amazing or 10 year amazing etc., but thats their business and business is good.

What is the cost/risk/danger in trying this to ‘the system’? – a salary? a hierachical change? systemic change? – I can’t see any reason not to do this – apart from money.


Investing in HUMAN INFRASTRUCTURE is more important than investing in BUILDINGS or TECHNOLOGY itself. But then people are hard to own in the industrial age sense – and the bargain between employer and employee has never been more challenging as people no longer require organisations to assemble and re-organise better ways of doing things.

  • We can’t judge how hard a teacher works, by the number of hours on class.
  • We can’t assess how inspirational, creative and connected they are to their learners and learning by time served
  • We have to recognise that to get kids to use ICT in connected, relevant ways, then we need teachers who do this.
  • Learning is a conversation – be part of it – talk and listen (listen more)
  • We can’t make salary the only bargain between employer and worker.

2008 has been a year in which the seemingly impossible – not just possible, but world changing.

  • Lots of rich people crashed the world economy then put their hand out to poor people to get ‘their’ money back that they screwed out of them in the first place. 
  • Some guy called Obama took out the top job in the USA and he wasn’t white.
  • A bunch of year 9 students learned that writing was fun – in a day.

Educatorsin 2008 are connected today in ways that were unthinkable even a year ago, yet administrators ponder the next 5 years. I have no idea what education could look like in 5 years. Its not me kids are waiting for.

Surely if there is a time to take a risk on changing how where we put amazing teachers – its now!

I once saw a sticker for a Volkswagen Bus Club which read ‘Don’t Join, Just Wave’ – this I think is the offer to our leaders, we are all waving at you – take a risk before schools become museums.

It is a massive effort to sustain ‘shift’ enthusiasm and focus, and at times if we stop waving – its because we are human and not ‘cogs’ in your wheel.

Things change, and we drop out of sight. We don’t want to, but thats how life is – notice us.

I leave the school feeling pleased with the massive changes that are happening – but frustrated as others are, that k-12 education is still referenced, judged and structured on out-dated policy, inflexible workplace arragements for teachers, salaries structures, in-equality, access restrictions … blah …

I hope that I’ll keep talking and working for the benefit of k-12, as I take up my new role.

So this I guess is the last ‘High School’ blog post from me … thanks for watching and talking … if I can help anyone out … then let me know … I share.

6 thoughts on “Mass Leaderhip, Mass Change

  1. There’s something bittersweet about this, Dean. I am very excited for you and your new role but reading this just now has made me think bout how much i think that you, single-handedly, have had an influence on so many teachers and students in the immediate past. And, when i think of that it kind of saddens me because I think that it is such a shame that schools will miss YOUR presence.

    Then, when i think about that, I think about how many great thinkers in schools move on because the system gradually pushes them to move on. Then, I start to contemplate home-schooling – this system is no good for MY (!! I am parodying) kids.

    Oh yes, there are still great teachers in schools. There are till great innovators in schools. There are even actually innovative schools around as well. But, I am happy to be reflective at this moment, even a little sad (hang on, isn’t that a paradox?) because through this brief moment of melancholy I am pleased that I have had the good fortune to see your ‘journey’ and to be your colleague and friend.

    Good on you, mate.


  2. thanks ‘Bel, I am NOT talking about me … I’m talking about all those who do amazing things who inspire me. I hear you about your kids – mine too – they are what makes me hope for bravery in those who can create these opportunities for teachers and students.

  3. Dean,

    Thank you for this post. It really strikes a chord with me – so often our best teachers are removed from the classroom, or failing that worked so hard into the ground that they simply can’t sustain it.

    Your call to take the risk before it’s too late is one I second, wholeheartedly. Education is at a cross roads and if we’re not careful we’re going to be stuck doing what we’ve always done…and as Anthony Robbins so sweetly said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

    Dean, I came in late to following your journey as a teacher and leader, but I’m very glad to have joined now and I wish you all the best and am looking forward to see where your path leads!


  4. This is again a word picture of reality. The “good” teachers are so often ground down by the relentless demands of the system, and the younger the age group the higher the amount of contact time. Good teachers are the ones overloaded with students with issues. Good teachers are the ones who get on school committees because they are committed to helping the students.

    The end result of this tends to be that the benefit of their talent, understanding and hard work is limited to one class, or rarely one grade group.

    How wonderful it would be if these teachers were supported to share. How wonderful if the system understood the human element.

    As one who has benefitted hugely from riding on your coattails for some time now, I have great hopes that your influence will be able to have a magnified, cascading and lasting effect on those with whom you will work in your new position.

    Please keep sharing and talking – education needs your example.

  5. Dean,

    I’m also a little sad to see you leave Secondary but I sometimes think that unless people like you get some time to somehow show more of us what can happen it is just that one pebble in the lake although RFK had something to say about that many years ago, and a wave like Obama starts somewhere!!

    I just want to acknowledge just how much you have challenged and excited me. You always make me think and evaluate how I spend my own time – you never seem to comfort me however!! A good trait when there is so much to be done.

    I look forward to continuing to read your thoughts (hopefully not from an ivory tower!!). Don’t forget to give us all the link!!

    Thank you for the ride so far and I look forward to much, much more!!

  6. Well, physically I have – but there is much to be done IMO and have plans to run some workshops and sessions throughout 2009. Just send me an invite Mick, more than happy to help out with PD for SYD. We have the capacity, we just need to act on it.

Comments are closed.