A daily conversation with 2500 leaders

Every weekday morning I make a strong coffee, walk down the hall to the ‘office’, open the iPad and talk to 2500 + leaders.

The leaders are Educational Leaders; they are part of the 15 000+ strong cohort of professional practice leaders in Education and Care services – these are early childhood services (Centres and Family Day Care) and middle childhood services (Outside School Hours Centres) – across the country. 

It is usually around 4.30 am local time. Yes, I am one of those early risers.  Mornings for me are quiet, cool and perfect – perfect for thinking, reading, writing.

At that time, readers in the Eastern states of Australia are travelling to or arriving at work in their Education and Care Services. It is easy to think of them facing their day, on trains in Melbourne, buses in Hobart, in cars in Darwin, through farm roads toward rural towns and driving through the dust in one of dozens of remote area locations. By the time I have hit ‘post’, the readers in WA are up and ready to go.

Our readers are leaders.

At ELA the team knows that the small and large things matter to professional practice leaders.

  • Have the Educational Leaders as a professional group been developing their professional identity?
  • Are they comfortable and yet challenged in their leadership learning?
  • Do they have a plan for the day?
  • Do they have a plan for their service?
  • Have they got a job description, a clear role, time allocated to it, support for what they are trying to achieve and even, are they paid for the additional leadership role they undertake?
  • Do they need help a grant application, or a cohort for a leadership research project?
  • Do they have lunch?

I write for the Educational Leaders Association. A not-for-profit group that came out of Western Australia in early 2016. The Facebook community links the 2500+ (and growing each week) Educational Leaders across the country. A rolling schedule of state and territory meetings is working on establishing member-run local branches supported out of Perth.

The aim is high quality, evidence and research based, member relevant and developed, low cost support.

The posts are member requested or initiated, often it is more the transmission of gathered stories of great leadership practice, but it is always a short read, pragmatic and empowering …

Why do this? Required by law, these leaders manage the curriculum in education and care services – affecting more than 1 million children across Australia, and there is a problem. We had, as a profession, established our national standards – but the profession hadn’t provided the consistent and very deep supports those very new professional practice leaders (the first generation of professional practice leaders) need to have. So, ELA is there for them EVERY WORKING DAY!

We also have a member developed policy platform – we advocate for the role, what Educational Leaders are trying to achieve for children, professional recognition and support. 

The pages are designed to take about the same time to read as it take to read a large flat white coffee. The Educational Leader community response has been universally – incredibly supportive.

Occasionally there is a comment to the effect that we aren’t academic enough or that there isn’t enough research cited (we keep that register separate to keep the posts readable), or once – that our language is ‘so plain English’. It is tempting to listen to this, it really is. Except that our commitment to clear language is part of our commitment to inclusivity.

We review our language, our topics, our research and our work. As part of this, we gather as a group, and we always end up talking about those Educational Leaders … on trains in Melbourne, buses in Hobart … as we read their feedback and ideas.

Next day, … pours a strong coffee and …