Emerging Leaders (Impact) Case Study

Benjamin Pisani

Director of Music, Sandringham College

Participating in the Bastow Emerging Leaders (Impact) course made it possible for Benjamin Pisani - a dedicated teacher with a passion for music - to realise his vision for a unified music department that delivers the very best learning outcomes for his students.

​​Running the music department for the senior campus of a large secondary collage should be challenging enough, but Benjamin Pisani wanted more - not for himself, but for his school and students.

With a separate music department at each of the college’s three campuses, Benjamin had a vision and a plan to unite them in a way that would improve and extend the opportunities and quality of learning for all students. Initially, his idea wasn’t about advancing his own career or improving his leadership prospects, it was about developing a cohesive course structure and providing strong leadership.

 

 

Impact (Emerging Leaders)XkX_J1X3wSUhttp://www.bastow.vic.edu.au/Lists/Videos/DispForm.aspx?ID=37Impact (Emerging Leaders)Benjamin Pisani, Director of Music at Sandringham College, shares his course experiences and success in driving change in his school./captions/XkX_J1X3wSU.vtt<div class="ExternalClassD2FEE85ECC6540D78770FD546772E4A1"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">My name is Benjamin Pisani.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">I'm the Director of Music, and classroom teacher at Sandringham College.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">I enrolled in the Bastow Impact course, because I had been leading informally at Sandringham College for numerous years.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">And I wanted to take some opportunities to put myself on the pathway to form a leadership, and to develop my career towards leading Victorian government schools.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">Being a part of the best of impact course has been fantastic because I found myself in a course with other future leaders, even some current leaders that are like minded, that are driven, that want to make change in Victorian government education, and has really pushed me to want to be a better teacher, wanted to be a better leader, and wanted to improve my skills and knowledge to make sure that I can be as effective as I can be for these kids.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">When I started at Sandringham College, I was employed on the senior campus, Sandringham College being a multi-campus, three campus school.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">One of the pitfalls with a multi-campus schools, and having a department spread across three sites is you have staff that don't see each other, that don't have a sense of collegiality.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">One of my key focuses in my impact school change course was to create unity amongst the staff.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">I presented a lot of my ideas.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">We shared them, we pulled them apart.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">And I found that the staff were really excited about the prospect of being one department.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">The bastow impact course gave me the skills and knowledge to be able to implement unity across my department.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">It helped me with things like team building skills, how I present information, how I relate to other staff, and how I manage myself as a teacher, but also as a leader.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">The point of it here is to grow as teachers, and to improve the learning outcomes of our students, which is the ultimate goal.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">-Bastow has helped us work with a project that is immediately relevant, essential to the school's direction, but has provided us with the knowledge that in fact, we're getting other types of advice and educational input into that program decision making.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">So it's really providing educational credibility to the decisions that we make.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">-To me, education is about giving kids control, giving kids respect, giving kids responsibility so that they develop themselves, and that we move away from the sense of achievement being a letter or a number, that these kids realize that success comes in so many different forms.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">That success can be, for someone in music, someone who has never played in front of a band before, learning the skill, and being able to get up there, and stand, and perform for others.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">It gives them an ability to be creative.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">It's been really enlightening, having been as a teacher here.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">Because not only does he offer freedom to use these tools, and all these spaces he's set up for us, he's also a really good role model, and just as enthusiastic as a student here about our music, and what he's teaching us, and all the different ways to get to that end goal that we all have.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">He's really opened our minds to a whole lot of different ideas, especially through styles.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">He's really made us appreciate music a whole lot more.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">-I think student focused learning, and student controlled learning is the key to teaching.</span><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><br style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;"><span style="color:#484749;font-family:"open sans", sans-serif;font-size:15px;">And I think it's the key to making sure that we are equipping our future generation with the skills they need to be successful, and to be the best they can be.</span>​</div>

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“When you have a music department that is split across three campuses, you need to have leadership so that there is unity between the campuses - a shared direction,” says Benjamin.

Benjamin was already initiating positive change and putting in developmental programs at the senior campus, so for him it was really a matter of “… looking at how I could develop these across the entire college for junior kids, not just the senior kids”.

Enrolling in the Impact (Emerging Leaders) program at Bastow in 2013 was his next step.

Designed for high potential emerging leaders who have recently accepted school leadership responsibilities or will do so in the near future, this Bastow program could not have been more perfectly suited or timed for Ben.

“I developed a ‘school change project’ as part of the program,” explains Benjamin. “After the first [of eight] workshops I basically had a nine-stage plan of how I thought the department could work across the three campuses.”

After discussing his project with the principal and other staff, he was appointed Director of Music. This new position has given him the opportunity to apply his vision and learning to make a real and lasting impact on the achievement, wellbeing and engagement of the students.

“So this leadership job came dire​ctly out of the Bastow program and the recommendations from my learning,” says Benjamin.

Even though he had a clear idea of what he wanted to achieve, Benjamin really wanted to learn more about the processes and structures that support a collaborative culture among staff, as well as how to effectively manage change.

“Learning about how to be a leader, the idea of emotional intelligence in leadership, using profiles to understand different learning techniques - that was all new to me,” he says.

“I especially appreciated the team building and leadership activities, and learning about how to have difficult conversations with staff, because leading is not always peachy.”

Benjamin was able to reflect on and improve how he interacted and communicated with others, as well as work out ways to successfully share his new knowledge and skills with the rest of his team.

He also found spending time with other “like-minded, driven people with similar motives” at the program really encouraging.

Under Benjamin’s leadership, the music department has already seen significant changes and remarkable developments. So far he has converted two disused buildings into rehearsal and recording studios; developed successful social media communication with students and parents; established an impressive new DJ Academy; and started writing a highly effective weekly bulletin to all music staff and the principal team.​​

“The Bastow program definitely enabled me to move forward with what I wanted to do,” he says. “It allowed me step back and see things from a different perspective and focus on what’s important, which really is improving the learning outcomes so all my kids can succeed. That’s what teaching is about.”