Adapt-ability: A Key Skill for Turbulent Times!

by Dr. Lyn Sharratt

15 September 2021

We have experienced a barrage of change per nano-second the past two years! Change is our only constant in education during these tumultuous times. What do we need to ‘stay the course’ in growing, learning, leading and living? I think the answer for all of us is: ‘adapt-ability’ – the 6th leadership dimension in CLARITY (2019, pp. 306-307, 335).

6 Leadership Dimensions

McKinsey and Company (Retrieved Sept. 14 2021 from: surveyed over70 academic articles to define strength in adapt-ability and found 3 essential characteristics:

  1. Proactively managing physical, mental, and spiritual well-being;
  2. Cultivating the habits of a lifelong learner by seeing the world as a laboratory and not an exam, with the right mix of learning mindsets, such as beginner, growth, and exploration.
  3. Nurturing relationships and teams that promote well-being and learning; for example, being the team catalyst for psychological safety.

What are the “How we are going to do this?” approaches? To maintaining calm in the face of chaos? I look to CLARITY (2019) for guidance:

  1. Establish Routines – using the operating norms and protocols to focus on leaders’, teachers’ and students’ growth and achievement, at Data Wall conversations, in the Case Management Meetings and during Learning Walks and Talks;
  2. Focus on FACES – bring all catastrophic issues back to the well-being of our students;
  3. Create a Common Language – developing a language of learning through co-labouring helps us stay focused, for example: Collaborative Assessment of Student Work to build team and capacity;
  4. Have fun – too often we take ourselves too seriously – introduce new concepts like the 14 Parameters in a playful way where teachers teach teachers the big ideas of System and School improvement.

We need to invest in building the capacity and resilience of each one of us as leaders, to be adaptable in the face of uncertainty. Modelling that pro-active, calm stance (even though we are paddling furiously beneath the water) is the most influential way to go - have a ‘crack’ at it!

Dr. Lyn Sharratt
Sept 15, 2021

Sharratt, L. 2019. CLARITY: What Matters MOST in Learning, Teaching and Leading. Corwin Press, CA: Thousand Oaks.