Vanda Tillotson is a professor at the London Center for Leadership in Learning at the University College London (UCL) Institute of Education (IoE). Ms. Tillotson has been working for the UCL Institute of Education for about 14 years, being involved in the implementation of the majority of the center’s professional development programs.
Ms. Vanda Tillotson has been also involved in the elaboration of the Araratian Baccalaureate School Leadership Development Program and will also act as a facilitator for the program participants.
During her recent visit to Armenia we had the chance to talk to Ms. Tillotson. Below you can see the main highlights from the talk.
Leaders are crucial
They’re crucial, because they’re the role models. They will set the agenda and it’s their sense of moral purpose, it’s their drive, it’s their motivation and enthusiasm that will be infective and will be picked up by both teachers, all support staff in the school, and the pupils. And if they see an effective leader, they are much more likely to go along and cooperate and work together, so that you’ve got a very collaborative environment in the school that will move it forward and make it better for pupils.
Leadership requirements of the past are no longer relevant
I think it’s changing. I think the leadership requirements that we’ve had, perhaps in the 20th century, are no longer relevant today. I think leaders have to have a very different view of the world and it’s very much focused on technology, the development of technology, we’re going to be working in different ways, which we cannot predict and we have to, therefore, develop leaders who are confident not knowing what is happening in the future, but able to prepare their students and their staff for something that is unknowable. So, you’re looking for very specific leadership qualities in the principals of today.
And that’s really our role here in Armenia: it is to take principals from where they are now as very effective principals, but actually take them one step further, to start them opening up their minds, to perhaps being a little more creative, maybe taking more risks, which is not easy, and maybe exploring that new world, that is in existence.
It’s not just the principal who’s the leader
I think they (leaders) face quite a few challenges. First of all, they need staff who are motivated but also have the knowledge and the skills, and themselves develop as leaders. Certainly, our view is that it’s not just the principal who’s the leader but it’s the people who lead the subject areas, and it’s also those classroom teachers who also have to develop leadership skills. And so that’s partly part of the development that needs to take place: it’s taking responsibility for where you are now and taking it one step further. So, really teachers today, principals, and vice-principals have to model a new way of learning and it’s that leadership for learning that is the focus. And that’s the priority.
About Armenian principals?
The principals I’ve met have amazing commitment to the job that they do. And the hours that they work, you know, they talk about their lives being devoted to their schools. And you can see that within the community. That’s such a real pleasure to see and to listen to those principals talk about the role they’ve played and what they’ve done. And they have a lot to offer, I think, to other principals in the world from that point of view. It’s really impressive.
Communications Specialist, Araratian Baccalaureate