East Midlands Regional Leader: Lizana Oberholzer

Leadership Biography:

Name: Lizana Oberholzer

Phase: Secondary


Trustee/ Press Officer NASBTT (National Association for School Based Teacher Trainers); Director for Learning Excellence for All/ SCITT Bid Developer and Former Director of the Buckingham Partnership/ Teaching and Learning, School Improvement and English/ Media Studies Teacher/ SEND – Dyslexia/ Autism/ BES and Inclusion

Sector: Teacher Training and Development

Region: East Midlands

Years Served in Education: 15

Leadership Journey:

I have been working in ITT since 2004 with the Oxon-Bucks Partnership (2004-2015) as Steer/Subgroup member, RLS Professional Tutor: ITT, Induction Tutor for NQTs/RQTs, MA tutor for Anglia Ruskin University’s MA, ICF Coach, Northampton University PGCE Management Group, Bedford University PQAD, University of Buckingham PGCE Tutor/Lecturer, Training School and School Direct Lead, SCITT Bid Developer, Online Learning Developer, SEND AT and former Director of the Buckingham Partnership SCITT and NASBTT Press Officer. SEND, Inclusion, Sociology and Psychology Lecturer for the University of Buckingham. English and MFL Tutor for the University of Buckingham.  Professional Tutor and Induction Tutor at the Royal Latin School, Head of Key Stage 4 English, Teacher of English.

Leadership Coach/Mentor/Inspiration: Stephen Covey – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Twitter Handle: @LO_EduforAll

Blog: staffrm.io/@lizana

Leadership Reflections:

Why do we need WomenEd?

To offer a supportive group where women can support each other to reach their full potential and make the most of their talents. On a national level to highlight the following issues:

  • Equality of women
  • Promote a stronger voice for women
  • To strengthen awareness of how women can contribute and make a difference on all levels in education
  • To provide women with a voice
  • To share best practice and to ignite enthusiasm regarding education, teaching and learning and how to make a true difference in relation to equality
  • To be excellent role models for colleagues and learners to see that we can all contribute and make a difference
  • Support in terms of policy change and support for women in education

Why do you volunteer to contribute to the WomenEd community?

I strongly believe in the vision and mission of WomenEd, and I appreciate how much the leadership team has inspired me to develop over the year, and I am keen to support others in a similar way and to make a difference.

Why do you lead?

I lead to make a difference for the pupils I work with and to support others.  To serve is to lead.

Why do you coach?

To help others unlock their potential. To facilitate thinking and to support others to learn how they can identify their vision, find solutions and reach for the stars.

Why do you engage with grassroots and social media?

To share ideas, practice, create awareness and collaborate with others.

Why do you think we need more equality in the education system?

The statistics demonstrate that 80% of the teaching community comprises of women, but less than 30% of them lead, which seems to suggest that there are specific reasons for this not happening at this moment. In a world where we have worked very hard to enable women to have equal rights, it is important to mirror that in education to unlock the potential of women to drive change, to make a difference but also to model to learners what successful women can do, what they look like and how they lead in different ways. It is important that we model what we would like to see in the world. We need to drive the changes we would like to see in the world.

Why is it important for us to engage #HeForShe advocates?

It is important to include male colleagues on this journey to enable them to not only support us in your drive for change, but to share their insights and understanding of the importance of the work Womened is doing with others. It is very insightful to listen to male colleagues explain how they became aware of the language which is used which stereotypes and which potentially can cause barriers – male leaders supporting female development and considering approaches in the workplace carefully with equality in mind will support women and their development significantly. By not including men in this drive will again make the focus of what Womened is trying to achieve – greater equality – redundant and it will just become another exclusion exercise. To be truly inclusive we need to involve all stakeholders.

How do you maintain a work life balance?

I plan my calendar very carefully. I include time to do urgent tasks but strive to ensure that tasks are done when they are important rather than urgent. I plan family time, time to exercise and to see friends and family too. I make time to do this and ensure that there is also flexibility for anything urgent that might crop up. I embed family commitments too to ensure that I make time for all aspects of my life. I enjoy reading and photography as well, and take my dog for walks early in the morning, which enables met to catch up with the photography.  I often read when I travel to different venues. Careful planning is key. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People outlines this approach in a very useful way.

How do you challenge the stereotype female leaders?

It is an interesting question, and I think that female leaders often role model successful male leaders. However, I do believe that we need to be true to ourselves, lead in our own way. Leadership does not always have to be bold and charismatic. Collins (2001) outlines that some of the most successful CEOs, were extremely humble about their success. Quiet leadership characteristic, were already highlighted at around 500 BC, it was perceived as the highest form of leadership which reflected trust of others, no unnecessary speaking and a clam approach. It is my belief that women are quiet leaders. Women often lead where actions speak louder than words, and I would challenge a stereotypical female leader by highlighting that it is important that women’s unique leadership styles need to be celebrated and encouraged. We must remain true to ourselves and create a sense of understanding that the way we lead is effective too and can make a significant difference. It is important to find our own voice and own identity as leaders to lead in the best way possible to ensure that we are as effective as possible.

What is your vision for education?

To ensure that every child has the life chances s/he deserves and to achieve that, we need to make sure we invest in our colleagues, and ensure that we are able to be as effective as possible. We also need to lead the way in regard to inclusion and equality to ensure that they have strong role models to look up to – to provide them with aspirational dreams to reach for the stars and achieve their goals. A better tomorrow and future for all in the learning community.

What change would you like to see in the system?

A recognition that we are truly at risk to lose fantastic teachers due to unrealistic expectations regarding workload. During a meeting, it was revealed that many women after 35 leave the profession due to poor management, workload and inflexible hours. This is very sad, as these women are often at a fantastic place in their career, experienced, and focused, but they find the demands of the day to day job and workload difficult to manage alongside family commitments. A greater understanding of the challenges women face, the roles they need to play at home and at work and to develop a system that works for all effectively to retain those women to ensure that they can be developed for the future, that they can make a great impact in education, and that they can continue to grow as teachers to contribute effectively towards the excellent progress learners make.

Leadership Advice:

To remain calm at all times. To make sure colleagues always know that you are there to help and to listen to them. The calmly think things through and not to react but to work through things step by step to support in the most effective way.

I must admit I have not always managed to get it right, as you learn to lead you often get it wrong. However, the key is to make sure that you reflect on your practice and work on it tomorrow. However, on the whole, I always hear the voice of the person who advised me at the time in the back of my mind, and it create a sense of calm, to know what to do next, how to approach it and how to support colleagues as best I can.

Leadership Inspiration:

I have recently read Andy Buck’s Leadership Matters: How leaders at all levels can create great schools.  It is a very enjoyable, but helpful and supportive read. It highlights a wide range of things to consider when you read but it also pays attention to a very important aspect – know thyself. It is so important to be self-aware and to understand what your strengths are, what you need to develop, what you need help with and how you might respond in certain situations. Many of these things reveal themselves to you as you learn to lead as well, and as time goes on you improve, as you have been in a certain situation before. I agree with this view, it is important to know yourself well, to enable you to identify when you might react in a certain way, which might not help the situation, and work through it to move the situation forward in a positive way for example.

Leadership Mantra:

To lead is to serve.


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