Almost 120 participants – directors and vice directors of schools involved in the “Learning Schools” (LES) Program, as well as team members and experts – attended an event in Falenty near Warsaw on July 1 and 2.
There were lectures, workshops, and panel discussions as the participants were looking for the answer to the question what school and what leadership are necessary now, when due to pandemic we are facing new challenges and revising solutions that we used to apply. A very important element of the conference was the collective reflection and experience sharing during conversations in small and large groups held all the time, during the classes and between them.
The meeting was opened by the “LES” Program Director Sylwia Żmijewska-Kwiręg. She was happy that they managed to meet after such a long and difficult time and that so many people could come. She thanked the directors for their hard work and congratulated them on their determination and courage with which they steered their schools over the period of distance learning when they had to response to students’, parents’, and teachers’ new needs.
The inspiration we referred to several times over the conference was the work on the right drivers in education by Michael Fullan, which among others include caring for well-being and social intelligence as opposed to obsession with academic knowledge and focus on artificial intelligence and technology. It was mentioned by Jacek Strzemieczny in his Thinking With Your Heart At The Time Of Pandemic lecture and workshop, where he encouraged the participants to recall their deep motivations and values they want to realize in their work. He presented the study results showing how strong the director’s work impact on students’ achievements at school can be thanks to facilitating and improving the teachers’ collective effectiveness or – to put it in simple words – their collective belief that every student can be taught.
During the conference we also paid a lot of attention to support that is needed by school directors themselves. We discussed the resources found in teachers and broader school community in last year’s difficult circumstances and how important it is to identify and gather around the director the people whose involvement and responsibility the director may rely on. The participants of the Summer School for “LES” Directors agreed also that the other source of support can be a group of peers such as the one offered by the “LES” Program.
Another important theme were preparations for the new school year which were the subject of a small group workshop session and a panel discussion conducted by Przemysław Kluge. Their participants discussed on the ways of permanent use of the resources found in their schools such as teachers’ new skills and experience, and students’ self-reliance and learning management. They paid a lot of attention to certain solutions aimed at meeting needs in certain areas which suffered most at the time of pandemic. These include relations both among students and between students and teachers, as well as in-depth inequalities or gaps in knowledge and skills.