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What Makes A Good Leadership Project?

What makes a good leadership project

Teachers who are aspiring leaders are often told that they need to start a project so that they can demonstrate their leadership capabilities. This project is something that they lead, get experience in leading people and then they can use it in their applications.


But what makes a good project?

If you're going to spend extra time and effort at school, starting and running a project, it had better do its job.


Here are four ways to ensure you're doing the right work to move your career forward.


The leadership project is aligned with the role you want


It may seem obvious but if you're going to be applying for leadership roles in a specific area, try and get the experience in that area.

For example, if you're wanting to become a Head Teacher of English, your project will need to be in English or Literacy.

If you're wanting to become an Assistant Principal, your project should be around literacy and numeracy leadership.


It isn't 100% essential that all your leadership stories are in one area. You can lead a project around digital pedagogy and then still get a leadership role as a Head of Department in Mathematics. This can happen if you're very clear on the processes you use to lead and manage change with a team of teachers. You just need to clearly articulate what you did and how it would look in a different area. So, it isn't essential that your project stays in the same area, but it does make it easier to show how the experience translates to the role.


Translating experience from one area to another is easier if the project has a similar role within the school. So, if you've lead curriculum in Humanities, leading curriculum in English is similar. The process to help teachers with curriculum and developing high quality lessons is similar so therefore, translatable. Just as experience leading wellbeing in a school is similar to doing behaviour support.


The leadership project is solution orientated


A great way to build your project is around a problem that is occurring for your students. If this problem was solved it would increase student outcomes. To improve student outcomes, teachers need to provide the solution.


So where do you find a problem? Look at student outcomes and find places where growth is not happening. It could be that a result has started to slip for students or that the results have never been at standard, or the results show growth but not much. An example could be that you analyse Numeracy results from NAPLAN and find that the Number strand is poorly done. You know that with an increased focus on the Number Strand, student’s results with dramatically increase.


It could be a pattern or correlation you find. For example, attendance and grades (more students are at school, the more they learn) so you focus on increasing attendance. Another example (linked to one above) is if in the Number Strand you analysed further and found a specific sub strand where students who do well in that strand perform higher overall. Therefore a focus on that sub strand would have flow on effects across more strands.


Analysing a problem and identifying the exact solution to improve student outcomes will be part of your role as a leader. These projects are a great way for you to practice.


The leadership project must be a priority for the school/department


No one will hire you for a leadership role if you've been leading projects that have no relevance to the core work of a school. This means, your project needs to be aligned with the school's or departments priorities.


Passion projects can be a difficult sell in an application. It's best to use an example here to prove my point. You decide to start a Chess club. When students learn to play Chess, they gain so many other valuable skills that translate into other areas of their school life. Students build social skills; they learn strategy and overall grow as individuals. Even if the club takes off and everything is going brilliantly, this kind of passion project will not be a good project for a leadership application. The outcomes are varied, hard to measure and are not building teacher capacity. I know there are a sea of benefits from this project, but if the same time and energy was placed into another project, it would be a better pay off.


Another trap can be if you project you choose is specific for your school and their culture. There is a risk that when applying outside of the school, there will be little value placed on the solution you've provided. This is because it doesn't translate to another school culture. This piece of advice is just for you to reflect on and ensure your time and energy is well spent.


So, if you're serious about moving into leadership, focus on projects around the big ticket items on the schools improvement plan or departmental priorities.


The project must lead teachers, not students


The project cannot depend solely on you alone. If the solution you're providing is that you help students with your time and expertise, it is not a lasting solution and has no leadership building capacity for you. This is because you are not cultivating a team approach to solving the problem and when you do get a leadership role, will not continue as you are no longer there.


To lead, you need to lead other teachers who provide the solution for the students. The complexities of leading adults is the experience you want to be building, not your ability to improve students. That is the role of a teacher, not a leader.


So what makes a good leadership project?

  • It's aligned with the role you want
  • Is solution orientated
  • A priority for the school/department
  • Leads teachers, not students


If you've started a project or are about to start one and are not sure if its going to help you get a leadership role, book in a free 30 minute chat to get the clarity you need.