Zahara Ramat’s appointment as whole-school literacy leader when she was only in her fourth year of teaching speaks volumes for her clear vision, determination and leadership aspirations.
And although keen to take on all the responsibilities and expectations that this role involved, Zahara was also under no illusion that she knew everything there was to know about being an effective leader.
“I knew I needed help to understand what leadership is really all about and to learn the foundations, skills and vocabulary that I would need to be a successful leader.”
After hearing about a colleague’s rewarding experience attending the Emerging Leaders course at Bastow, Zahara thought that it sounded “absolutely what I was looking for”.
A key component of the course is developing a school-based change project for improvement, and for Zahara it made perfect sense to link this project to her school’s literacy policy.
“A policy did already exist, so my initial intention was to actually implement it,” explains Zahara. “But after discovering that it needed more work, I decided to complete the document and co-ordinate its implementation.”
In addition to the team at her school, the other participants and the facilitators at Bastow provided valuable “assistance, insight and perspective” to Zahara for this project.
“The collaboration aspect was really positive,” she says. “You tend to be in a bubble at your own school, so it was great to hear about all the things that other people were dealing with - everyone had such different experiences - and to hash things out together.”
Developing the literacy policy was one thing, but Zahara also wanted to learn more about “the people aspect” of leadership - the processes, skills and knowledge that support a collaborative culture.
“I really wanted to learn about how to approach things in the right way so that I could get the right result,” says Zahara. “And when I reflect on what I was like when I first started the course I can really see how I’ve grown - I now feel very well equipped to effectively communicate with colleagues and to identify and tackle issues.”
With these skills, together with vital knowledge about the theories and practices around effective leadership, Zahara now also feels empowered and confident.
“I honestly found every aspect of the course to be fantastic” reflects Zahara. “And everything I learnt was backed up with relevant readings and research that directly applied to something I needed to know.”
Although it’s early days, there has already been positive feedback about the new literacy policy from students, staff and parents, and the improvements to Zahara’s relationships across the board mean that she now has the opportunity to “impact real change, not just superficial change”.