Leading in the middle : towards thriving middle leadership in BC independent schools

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By, Natassja Courtney
Arts-based research
found poetry
independent schools
leadership development
middle leadership
photo elicitation
This action research inquiry, undertaken in partnership with the Independent Schools Association of British Columbia (ISABC), was guided by the question: How might the ISABC’s Team Leadership Program support the leadership development and thriving of emerging and middle leaders throughout and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic? Data were collected with a survey and two focus groups involving 52 participants from 16 independent schools. Arts-based approaches included photo elicitation and found poetry. Key findings indicated the pandemic has magnified the human side of educational leadership and thriving as being a middle leader requires communication, relationship building, and the prioritization of followers’ needs. Recommendations addressed strategies to (a) develop self-awareness, coaching, and interpersonal skills amongst emerging leaders; (b) capitalize on existing leadership networks to foster a stronger sense of belonging within the ISABC; and (c) offer leadership-focused professional development and resources accessible to the broader ISABC community. Keywords: arts-based research, found poetry, K–12, independent schools, leadership development, middle leaders, photo elicitation, thriving at work
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