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4 min read

How have we been facilitating workshops in a remote environment?

We’ve all been doing things differently.

But for the team at Springboard Trust – including our amazing volunteer base – the remote environment has provided an opportunity to learn and connect in all-new ways.  

Much of the work principals do with us is predicated on the cross-sector model, the idea that people coming together from different backgrounds can help each other develop in truly astonishing ways. Between our volunteers, facilitators, team and principals, how can we keep that connection going?  

With an ironing board, of course.  

Better together – no matter the environment 

For Ellie Sutton (Portfolio Delivery Lead, Wellington and Canterbury) and Nicholas Williams (Programme Manager, Canterbury), facilitating a Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme workshop remotely had some key differences – and challenges.  

“There wasn’t much of a shift in the course material,” Nicholas says, “but tech was a huge consideration.” 

“'We had to be particular about planning the sequence of events and who would drive the different tech functions, and think how we would provide people with the opportunity to talk.  With a series of faces on a screen and most people 'on mute', normal silences can become amplified, and it became really important to address everyone and create times where they all could contribute.” 

Nicholas and Ellie had some nerves about leading a remote workshop – how engaged people would be, and whether everyone would feel a part of it. From the moment principals began reflecting on their last few weeks, they realised everyone was all in.  

As Ellie explains, a big factor in keeping this engagement going was changes of state.  

“We learned a lot from out facilitation workshop with Sysdoc, particularly not to be afraid to change our space. Just because we’re presenting on a screen, it doesn’t mean everything has to take place there – we're also in our own physical environment, which we can use to our advantage.”  

This meant, when it came time for whiteboard sessions, things got inventive. Using a whiteboard and flip chart on the wall, and the computer set upon her ironing board, what could have been a screen share became something much more engaging and entertaining. 

“I’d seen memes of people creating home offices in lockdown, using ironing boards as standing desks – that sort of thing. When I started thinking about changes of state, I thought about those ironing board memes and realised hey, I have one of those!”  

Breaking out  

For Ellie and Nicholas, one change they might focus on for future remote workshops is the breakout rooms.  

“We’d send people to breakout rooms and they wouldn’t necessarily do the activities we set,” Nicholas notes, “but they absolutely loved it. It was an opportunity for them to connect and process the learning.”  

“You see them come out animated and energised by the conversations they’ve been able to have with their Capacity Partner.”  

Speaking of Capacity Partners – IAG's Tania Morgan-Smith, who formed part of this workshop, agrees wholeheartedly on the breakout rooms.  

“I’ve only used Zoom with SBT, so the breakout rooms were very new, and totally amazing,” she says. “In an in-person group, you can miss the opportunity to have those more intimate conversations.” 

“Everybody is on a level playing field, and in meeting rooms you can miss things. Being able to have those one-on-one catch ups, take notes, even screenshots – it gave me so much clarity.”  

Connections made and lost  

For Tania, the opportunity to connect with her principal in private breakout rooms was fantastic – something that Ellie and Nicholas saw clearly during the workshop. But for everything gained, something is often lost.  

“I miss the social conversations,” Ellie says. “Those random bits in your break time, how’s your mum doing – that kind of thing.”  

Nicholas agrees - “I really want to continue these remote workshops – give time for discussions, for people to open up and feel more confident in being part of that conversation. It takes a lot of getting used to, but I think there’s a lot of value in being able to hold workshops this way. I do, however, miss catching up with people on the journeys around Canterbury.”   

This is something Sven Pannell, Director at KPMG also feels. 

“I’m the sort of person who gets a kick out of being in the room with people, getting that human connection – which is a lot more difficult in a remote environment.” 

And at the end of it all, remote workshops will continue to pose challenges for connection. Asking a group of people to conduct a programme founded on relationship-building through an online environment is big – but as Tania adds, it’s something everyone is committed to.  

“At a time like this, it would be so easy to put Springboard down the priority list. But everyone came, connected and reflected just like we always have.” 

“It could be a time like this that actually drives people’s desire to come! Put schools in a crisis, and the spirit of its people comes straight to the top. Even if we’re connecting over a screen, that still shines right through.” 

Helping you lead through change with confidence and clarity.

Strategic Leadership for Rural Teaching Principals (SLRTP)

Rural teaching principals face challenges that their metropolitan counterparts often do not.   Working as both teacher and principal, these leaders also have numerous other roles within their school. On top of this, in a rural context school leadership extends far into the community – to the extent that they are ‘always on’.   Finally, there are often significant hurdles for rural teaching principals in terms of accessing development opportunities, and finding relief teaching when those opportunities arise.   With some 20% of the country’s principals in this situation, Springboard Trust is thrilled to offer a unique, fully-funded programme designed with them in mind.  Tailored development for rural teaching principals  The Strategic Leadership for Rural Teaching Principals Programme (SLRTP) is the first of its kind in New Zealand. Combining elements of our Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme (SLPP) and our High Performing Leaders programme, we developed this course in recognition of those rural-specific challenges that principals face.   SLRTP includes:  Three 2-day residential block courses and one final full day course  Interactive webinars from our Subject Matter Experts  Regular online cohort meetings  A 360° leadership review  One-on-one meetings with Impact Coaches  Debriefing sessions with Programme Managers  Self-paced learning and ancillary resources   Cohort engagement through our Canvas LMS  Taken over the course of a calendar year, principals will pair with Impact Coaches – volunteers from our network of experts – and learn the fundamentals of strategic leadership, with a unique focus on rural teaching principal roles.   They will work together through our new blended learning model, combining the best of both virtual and in-person learning environments.   As with our other programmes, the relationship with your volunteer forms the cornerstone of your learning. A high-trust relationship forms, and helps you develop your skills as a leader within the parameters of the programme.   For principals, it is a fully funded leadership development course – a benefit made possible by our partners in the Elaine Gurr Endowment Trust, from Perpetual Guardian. Who can apply for SLRTP?   SLRTP is open to all principals who have not completed our previous programmes, and who fit the following criteria:   Work in schools with fewer than 100 students Teach in classrooms on a regular basis  Live in communities a significant distance from the nearest major urban area   Applications for SLRTP typically open in Term 3 of the year before the course begins. To get in touch about taking part in this course, please contact one of our team.   For volunteers interested in becoming an Impact Coach, please contact our Volunteer Manager, Rebecca Brown.  

COVID-19: Leading Through A Crisis

Springboard Trust is committed to helping principals and their schools through the extraordinary environment we now find ourselves in. As part of this, we have developed Leading Through A Crisis - a series of webinars and resources to give principals the tools, frameworks and skills they need to lead during times of change. How Leading Through A Crisis helps principals Over the coming weeks, Springboard will publish a series of videos and helpful resources - freely available from this page - to help leaders guide their communities through a crisis.   This begins with a webinar from our Board Chair Ian Narev (Seek, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, McKinsey), introducing our series and speaking on: You as a leader. Understanding your team well – at the moral and human level. Your plan – the importance of understanding what you control and what you don’t. Following this will be a series of bite-size interviews, learning modules and tools on leading self, leading the school and leading others. This includes:   What you bring as a leader Māori perspectives on leadership Communication and decision-making Developing a crisis plan Organizational culture and identifying values Distributed leadership  These topics have been developed out of focus groups with principals who have worked with Springboard before, and mapped to conceptual frameworks by the University of Auckland’s Professor Carol Mutch and Columbia University’s Professor Paul Ingram.   Who is Leading Through A Crisis for? These modules are designed to be useful primarily for New Zealand principals, but the learning included will be applicable to anyone involved in educational leadership.   For more information on our Leading Through A Crisis resources, or to request assistance on a specific topic, please contact your Programme Manager.  

COVID-19 Distance Learning Support for Principals

Distance learning is here, and it may be here for the long-term.   The challenge for school leaders is now finding what works well for their school community, how to build confidence in the use of distance learning methods, and what can be sustained in the long-term.  Springboard and our expert partners are providing support to schools under Ministry of Education’s guidelines, leading and implementing the transition from classroom to a remote and blended environment where every student, teacher, parent and caregiver will have a different role to play.  How Springboard Trust can help with distance learning  Under our School Innovation Services banner, and in our role as an accredited PLD provider with the Ministry of Education, Springboard can support you and your school to create a sustainable distance learning model that brings together your people, all relevant technology and best-practice leadership.    Currently, we have developed custom support under the following themes:   Leadership in a time of change (lifting capability, critical decision-making)  Leading towards distance learning Implementing distance learning (“getting it done”, including distance teaching practices)  Engaging stakeholders  Building resilience  Coaching for school leaders  If you, your school or your community need assistance with making distance learning a seamless experience for everyone involved, please get in touch with your Programme Manager or fill out our contact form.    Who can access Springboard’s distance learning support – and how  Our support comes in addition to the COVID-19 PLD Distance Learning Support package from the MoE, and is open to all schools who need it – not just Springboard alumni. To access our support, you can either reallocate approved PLD hours you have with Springboard Trust or request our support directly from the Ministry of Education.   To access Ministry of Education guidance, FAQs and contact details on Distance Learning PLD, head this way!

COVID-19: Resilience

Right now, there is nothing more important than resilience and wellbeing. While already a focus for many principals who have worked with Springboard Trust, we would like to provide more support in this area to help all New Zealand school leaders through the COVID-19 pandemic.   Our goal is to support principals to build and maintain resilience within themselves, so they can support others to do the same.   How Springboard Trust can help principals with resilience  We understand the time constraints and information overload that principals go through at the best of times – let alone during a pandemic.   That is why, rather than provide a comprehensive programme, we are offering a kete of wellbeing-focused resources that principals can use at their leisure. We will be releasing multiple items a week, focused on topics that respond directly to priorities principals have highlighted.   This will include:  Video content  Models of wellbeing   Presentations, seminars and conferences  Interviews and advice   These videos, toolkits and articles will give you a regularly updated set of tools to build and share resilience.  We will be calling upon our network of experts to provide insight, learning and perspective on resilience, helping principals keep a strategic approach to their own wellbeing, and improving that of their community.   Who can access our resilience resources – and how   We will publish all resilience resources either on this page or in our news section, keeping everyone updated on the latest we have to offer.   These resources are free to use for everyone who needs them, principals, volunteers, partners and the general public alike.   Resources for resilience:

Recalibrate Your Strategy Workshop

Get your plan back on track Every principal who has worked with Springboard Trust has developed a three-year outlook and a strategic plan for their school.   But in the wake of COVID-19, so much has changed. You might have new priorities, and new initiatives that you want to introduce that mean your original plan may suddenly seem out of date..   Recalibrate Your Strategy (RYS) is a new Springboard Trust workshop designed to help school leaders reconnect, share ideas and rework their strategic plan to better suit the current environment. It gives you perspective, clarity and the tools for a roadmap for the months and years ahead.   How does Recalibrate Your Strategy work?   In the two-hour online RYS workshops, principals will:   Assess how the current situation will impact your strategy  Consider and review your goals and initiatives  Identify priorities for the short- and medium-term  Identify key stakeholders and their engagement needs  Consider the conditions needed to lead these changes   Essentially, RYS acts as a reset – a space for you to take stock, look at what’s important to you now and start working on a plan to make that happen.   Who is Recalibrate your Strategy for? Recalibrate Your Strategy is open to all principals who have completed a strategic plan with Springboard Trust before.   It is a workshop conducted online, will require two hours of your time and requires your existing tools like roadmaps and your stakeholder, annual and strategic plans.   To enquire about attending a Recalibrate Your Strategy workshop, please get in touch with your Programme Manager. 

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