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School Leadership:
Mastering the First Year

The first year of school leadership is often described as a rollercoaster. New leaders start with passion yet struggle to keep their vision alive as they negotiate the transition from the classroom to the meeting room. This online course, written and hosted by currently practising school leaders, offers practical, immediately applicable content that will help new and aspiring leaders negotiate the ups and downs, while moving their schools forward.

  • Developing your leadership style

  • Mastering the layers of school leadership

  • Building trust through integrity

  • Leading wellbeing & emotional resilience

  • Developing teacher practice


A six-month online course that provides practical, strength-based, experience-driven professional development specifically targeted to first-time and aspiring leaders in international schools. Participants will engage in online group discussions and activities, supported by asynchronous follow up content that is:

  • timely, practical, effective and personalised

  • based on the experiences and learning of practicing school leaders 

  • backed by leading theory of leadership approaches, strategies and skills 

  • driven by student questions and challenges 

  • focused on using personal strengths as a means of enhancing practical skill 

Alarm Clock

Monthly Time Commitment:

  • Online live workshops 2.5 hours 

  • Fieldwork application 3-5 hours 

  • Reading 1-2 hours

Time Frame:
Jan 26th - June 21st 2023,
19:00 - 21:30 CET time

3D Objects


  • Synchronous live workshops

    • (max 15 participants)

  • Self-paced experiential activities/fieldwork

  • Resource bank of readings and templates

Computer desktop

Zoom workshops, FB community 

Course Content


Justine Readings
Leadership Coach

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Session One: Jan 24th

What is leadership?

In session one we will explore who you are as a leader, and where you fit within renown leadership models, so that you can channel your unique characteristics as professional strengths. 

  • An overview of differing leadership models - beginning with a look at the 5 Levels of Leadership developed by John C. Maxwell. 

  • The Leadership Intelligences: strategic, cultural, pedagogical, relational, entrepreneurial, reflective & heuristic leadership. You'll determine your understanding and application of these intelligences and begin to map out next steps in your development.

  • Who are you as a leader? Exploring your personal leadership style will help you present yourself confidently and reliably, gaining trust through authenticity. 

Session Two: February 21st

The layers of the school leadership role

In session two we'll explore the difference between leadership and management, and plan how to use each to achieve our leadership goals. By being visible, being responsive, and strategically using all the administrative channels of your context you can make a difference to teaching and learning for all. 

  • Culture versus climate: Do you fully understand your starting point, and how clear is your vision of what you want to develop? We'll explore how to uncover and influence the dominant patterns of behaviour, perceptions and attitudes within your workplace.

  • Leading for tomorrow, managing for today: How to get the best out of budgets, scheduling and paperwork so that the 'daily admin' becomes more of a help than a hinderance.

  • Getting the most out of meetings: compare a range of meeting structures and agenda templates that ensure meeting times are effective, efficient and enjoyable. 

Session Three: March 21st

Building trust with integrity

Leading collaboration: What does collaboration look like in your school? Have you defined the purpose, scaffolded the process, given space and developed protocols for collaboration to develop? We'll look at how leaders can build effective collaborative teams to enable healthy conflict, commitment, team accountability with a focus on improving student learning. Through this session we will explore and engage in practical activities in the following three areas that help develop effective collaborative teams.

  • High Functioning teams are based on trusting relationships. Through this team members can engage in healthy conflict, commit to team decisions, hold themselves and others accountable, and remain focused on student learning. We'll explore each layer in The Reverse-Lencioni model and the role you play, as leader, in creating and maintaining each tier.

  • Listening is a crucial skill for creating harmonious and productive teams, so in this session we will explore listening techniques and conversational moves that ensure effective communication. 

  • Difficult conversations that build trust: we'll explore an authentic case study to practice the process of building understanding of leadership issues, developing action steps and review points.

Session Four: April 19th

Leading for wellbeing

75% of teachers (and 80% of Principals) experience frequent work-related stress. Educator Wellbeing is a priority for all school leaders. In this session we will explore ways to develop staff capacity for cultivating their own social, emotional, and cultural competence.

  • Modelling social/emotional learning: How strong is your emotional agility? We'll ask the hard questions about emotional regulation and learn stop considering feelings as 'negative' or 'positive' and learn how to make find the most helpful way to use our feelings.  

  • Developing emotional resilience in teachers: What is resilience and how can you develop it in others? We'll explore coaching techniques that help leaders support teachers through their SEL goals.

  • How your emotions impact your communication: We'll try out a practical technique for preparing conversations that are guided by the most useful emotion for the purpose, context and desired outcome.  

Session Five: May 24th

Gathering your Marigolds

Many experienced gardeners follow a concept called companion planting: placing certain vegetables and plants near each other to improve growth for one or both plants. Among companion plants, the marigold is one of the best: garden vegetables grown next to a marigold will grow strong and healthy, protected and encouraged. Marigolds exist in our schools as well –  and school leaders need to know how to place them, support them and allow them to bloom.

  • Delegation: How can you use the strengths of those around you to ensure all the work that needs to be done gets done well, gets done on time, while helping others grow as professionals.

  • Using influence: Do you understand what you can control and what you can influence? Are you making the most of the key influencers in your school? We'll talk about techniques for maximising your circles of influence.

  • Interviews, hiring & induction: For most in their first year of leadership the task of hiring staff is a new one. Gain strategies and templates to design efficient and effective hiring processes that help you build your school culture and climate.

Session Six: June 21st

Leading adult learning

Schools thrive when teachers grow. Developing school staff is a key role of school leaders and requires thoughtful planning, a clear vision and a thorough understanding of adult learning. 

  • Whole school professional development

  • Managing personal growth (appraisal as development)

  • Individual teacher learning needs

Course Structure

  • Live: 6 x monthly synchronous online (Zoom) PD sessions of 2.5 hours each

  • Experiential & interactive: with a maximum of 12 students every participant will have an opportunity to share their ideas and explore their crucial questions.

  • Mentorship: each session will be facilitated by Leadership Coach Justine Readings and a guest co-host specialised in the session content

  • Designed for adult learners: each session will consist of a balance of:

    • content delivery (based on research/theory)

    • interactive group activities 

    • host examples / anecdotes for analysis

    • participant examples for analysis

    • independent reflective activities

  • Personalised: before each workshop you will receive a short video (max 10 mins) outlining the session objectives and help the session content is specifically tailored to your current context and challenges

  • Experiential: every month you will have an practical application activity to embed the knowledge, understanding and skills in your context

  • Collegial: You will gain instant membership in the cohort Facebook Group that will post weekly questions designed to promote reflection and discussion.

  • Practical: Your course fee includes life-long access to templates, research papers and recordings of the video sessions. 

  • Transformational: Upgrade you course by adding monthly leadership coaching/mentoring sessions.

Sign up

Early Bird Sign-Up

Sign up before Dec 15th for our

Early Bird Special: €600

Collegial Discount:

Sign up with a colleague and you will each receive 15% discount.

Preferred payment method
Congratulations on moving forward! I am excited that you are interested in being part of School Leadership: Mastering the First Year. To help me cater the course content to your specific needs, I will shortly be in touch with a few questions about your goals, school context and preferred learning style. In the meantime, if you have any questions please email me directly on
Looking forward to working with you soon!
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