The Ustadi School Leadership Institute is exclusively for Head teachers and their Deputies. The program is developed and run in partnership with Global School Leaders. We provide targeted professional development to improve instructional leadership and student learning outcomes. We know that effective school leadership affects student learning outcomes. The Ustadi program in currently run in Dandora and Laikipia.

On Monday 5th of August 2019, we had our graduation ceremony to celebrate the Ustadi School Leadership Institute (USLI) fellows, as they conclude a six-month pilot program of training and in-school coaching. This program aimed at helping them enhance their leadership skills and become instructional leaders. It was an exciting journey, supporting the most influential and powerful people at the schools, and working in a new community-Dandora. Looking at the program, there are several areas that stood out for me while supporting the leaders.

Leadership – First, it was great seeing the School leaders shift from being managers to leaders. They started leading by example; doing what they would usually ask the other teachers to do. The leaders embraced delegation and collaboration and began involving other teachers in decision making. For many schools, this was a big shift, they previously had no system s in place for teamwork.

School Culture – I saw the teachers being intentional about building positive relationships with other teachers and students and leading with empathy. The school leaders focused on building positive communities where learners are supported, and teachers are motivated to improve instruction.

Learner Centered Learning – In the classroom, the school leaders shifted from using lecture methods to using active student engagement strategies like peer learning, practical work, group discussions and presentations, which they initially considered a waste of time. They demonstrated a shift in the belief of their students’ potential by recognizing and celebrating their efforts, which apparently has led to decreased truancy.

Coaching – Most importantly, the trainings and coaching helped the School Leaders become aware and understand their role as leaders and changemakers at their schools. These made them step up in their leadership role and drive change to ensure their schools are positive environments where teachers and learners can prosper. I was inspired during coaching visits to hear comments like, “I no longer have to stress myself with looking at Students exercise books, I have delegated that to the Subject panel heads, and they do it together with the subject teachers.”

“Our staff meetings are now more engaging because I share the agendas in advance”,

“I now feel confident to coach other teachers even those who have taught for more years or are more senior than me”,

“I feel confident to now start my own school” and

“By conducting walk throughs, I have been able to know the problems that our students are facing”.

As a Leadership Coach, I am proud of the milestones the leaders have made. They had to deal with numerous challenges around teacher turnover, student truancy, low parental engagement, insecurity in their community, lack of infrastructure and insufficient funds because majority of their students cannot afford school fees. Despite of all these challenges, they have been relentless in their learning, knowing that school leadership is essential, and that the success of a school is tied to its leader.

Contributor: Samantha Nyabola- Senior Leadership Coach