Everything You Can Imagine Is Real

Regenerative Leadership

I can already hear you asking yourselves, what is regenerative leadership? Through this blog post, I will help you understand what it means, how it impacts our education system, and how you can make the best out of it.
Regenerative Leadership is a type of leadership that emphasizes the importance of collaboration and believes that everyone can add value to the bigger picture if they are empowered and given the opportunity. It’s a leading approach described as collaborative and developmental rather than reductionist and authoritative. And it aims to rearrange the smaller efforts to create more energy and opportunities for collaboration between educators allowing us to learn together and from one another.
Our impact as educators on the community is highly significant in a way that some of us are unaware of. During professional development sessions, I use the analogy between a brain surgeon and a teacher to illustrate how significant the work of teachers and educators is. Through brain scans, we know that new neurological bonds, connections, and eventually centers are formed in the human brain as a result of learning. These are called synapses; once formed, they are likely to stay and get stronger the more we learn. Teaching is a delicate and sensitive process in which the teacher operates on the human brain. We have no choice but to get it right and in the best possible way!
Only through an “excellence mindset” can we become our best version.
We are what we think, talk about, and eventually do. That collective mindset for excellence has to be the main driver that brings all of us together. The choice of what we chase and aspire to is very crucial. The excellence idea changes how we see and do things in our lives and work. To live and breathe excellence in our education system, we need to define it well; this is the passion and the vision that drive our work at SEA. Only through an “excellence mindset” can we become our best version.
Checklists wouldn’t take us far; a car can still be roadworthy while not driving great. Once we collectively and clearly define excellence, our approach will be more collaborative and focused on maximizing the collective capacity and building both physical and virtual hubs of innovation and excellence.
Throughout a 15 years journey in the UAE education system, I’ve been fortunate enough to work as an inspector, advisor, and governor with nearly 500 schools across all seven emirates. What I have learned over these years is that we have what it takes to create excellent practice in our classrooms, schools, and leading educational organizations. Our role is to help put the Lego pieces together within our institutions to create a masterpiece that completes the education vision of the UAE.
The world has moved from an “extractive” mindset triggered by the Industrial Revolution into a sustainable “dream” in the last two decades. The future needs a paradigm shift to “Regeneration” and regenerative leadership. Reductionism seeks efficiency, rationalization, and homogeneity. Those who follow this mindset believe that if the number of actions, people, or costs can be cut while maintaining the same or a better outcome, then it should be done. However, living systems do not follow this logic.
The world has moved from an “extractive” mindset triggered by the Industrial Revolution into a sustainable “dream” in the last two decades.
Rainforests, probably one of the most mature systems on our planet, are not rationalized and systemic, with one type of tree repeated neatly. They are abundant with diverse flora and fauna, some existing within an unbelievably small range while others are ever-growing and expanding.
The future is still being determined, and we can design it however we wish. Beginning by envisioning a positive future and moving beyond short-term limitations is a brave start. Working from a place of hope can build energy, momentum, and commitment to the impact we wish to see. Let us imagine a thriving education system where all work together to lead the way and offer the best learning environment to ourselves and others.
Let us be “unlimited” in how we think about possibilities and the future. In complex, regenerative systems, no individual can hold an ultimate view. We all have ideas, and each of us has some pieces that can make the complete puzzle when put together. One of our values at SEA is collaboration; by drawing together multiple views and experiences, we can hope to see and understand more and eventually build a great “regenerative model of education and learning”. Let us all believe Sharjah and the UAE can and will create one of the best education systems in the world. Let us do this together.

Hesham Metwalli is the Director of Accelerator and Special Programs at Sharjah Education Academy. He is a Senior Fellow at the Australian Graduate School of Leadership. He has strategic and state level experience in both Higher Education and K-12. He was a founding member of the Dubai School Inspections Bureau where he worked as a Senior Inspector and led the community partnership projects. He then moved to Abu Dhabi as the Director of Inspections and Education Quality with Tribal Group. He has inspected, led, and managed the inspections of more than 350 schools across the UAE and MENA. He led the development of the inspection framework for Abu Dhabi government schools and contributed to the development of the Dubai Schools Inspection Framework.

He was involved in managing a national project for the Ministry of Education in the UAE to train and prepare 700 education reform leaders in collaboration with Pearson Education, the UK National College for Leadership, and Nottingham University. He also held several senior education leadership roles in Australia.

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