Recently I asked Twitter for help once again (seriously it’s the gift that keeps giving!) I’ve been reading a book by Brendan Burchard called High Performance Habits. The section on Performance and Productivity caught my eye, as I imagine it would most people’s in education with the scarcity of time and an ever growing to do list. In it he discusses Productive Quality Output and focusing on the actions that will have the biggest impact. In fact, he asks the reader to focus on 5 areas in which they want to make moves to grow.
So when it came to deciding my 5 I asked for help, on twitter and of course it delivered. As a Vice Principal I often cover all bases, pastoral administrative, T&L it doesn’t matter if it needs to get done it needs to get done. But at the same time I can feel lost due to lack of focus. It serves me well but also stops me from developing a deep knowledge of areas I know I need to develop in. I work with a Head who is my direct opposite, as a result we can end up focusing on tasks that come to us naturally. I handle all things people, he handles timetables and finance. As someone who came into teaching late and worked in the commercial sector I’m not shy of handling budgets but school budgets seem to be a different beast.
reached out to the Heads on twitter for their advice on the 5 things they did
to prep them for headship to help me get a little focus next year. Below is a
list of their feedback and also my own thoughts of how I might go about this.
Thank you to the wonderful Mark Chatley, David Ellison, Alienwife, Dr Heery, Raphael Moss, Baritonedeaf, Simmscoaching, EducatingNotts, Jack Newton, Teacher Paul, Community Head, Steve Palmer, Richard Preece and Reynolds3Simon for their feedback and guidance.
overwhelmingly the common thread in most of the answers. Decide what values you
want your leadership to be based on. At first I thought I had to pick three
from a large list but truth be told I only operate from my values and express
them without even knowing. Mine are:
Integrity – I wouldn’t ask anyone to do something I would
not do or have a go at, I ensure I speak the truth and if I don’t know
something I confess pretty quickly.
Growth– The thing I love about education the most is
it is a great big adventure, the environment is always changing (ain’t that the
truth at the moment!) new challenges are presenting themselves and we learn
more about ourselves every minute. Adventure to me means fun and I embrace it
with enthusiasm. To me school from any angle is about growth. Growing
knowledge, skills, opportunities, community, this value just resonates with me.
Contribution – To me this means giving the best of yourself
at every given moment. It’s what I expect from myself, my staff and students. I’m
also not great in meetings with people who can only see the problems, although I’m
working on being more patient.
you values? To answer this think about the values you operate from every day. It
was good to ask myself this question and think about it during a long walk.
this translate to a school and the development to Headship? I believe if you
use your values as an anchor you’ll make decisions in line with them and as a
result be an authentic leader. You’re probably already doing it.
Apparently, you can never have enough budget experience! I know I need to get myself into budget meetings. As part of a MAT many of the decisions are made centrally but this is something I’ll be asking to be part of as soon as we return. On another note @secretHT1 published a great blog as an intro to school budgets which you can find here.
great peace of advice. I recently spoke to some great colleagues about the problems
with echo chambers, particularly if you are in a large Trust. It is healthy to
hear different views and purposely speak (or tweet) with people who may not
agree with you. Raphael mentioned the NPQH in particular as an opportunity to
look beyond your school or Trust. I recently spoke to a colleague who suggested
that all those on the NPQH do their second project on a Trust school (luckily
he is not in my cohort ;)). Although well-meaning I think this is really
dangerous and one way in which schools/Trust can become too inward facing.
Other places to network are on Twitter (thoroughly recommend joining the
#teacher5oclockclub if you can get up early enough #TinyVoiceTuesdayUnites and
#FFBWednesday to name a few). Actively seek opinions. A few years ago I also
made an active decision to read outside of education and outside of the UK to
give myself some perspective.
steps are to work with the wonderful Network of people I have found on Twitter
to discuss, debate and share as much as I can. Oh, and make sure I do my NPQH project
outside of the Trust!
here is to make sure you understand as many different school settings as you
can so when you are a Head things don’t take you by surprise or you have
different perspectives on tackling a problem.
Get coached/learn from Heads
This took a
few different forms. Some people swore by coaching others said they had great
Heads who modelled good Leadership for them or bad ones who showed them what
not to become. I think all of the above are useful. Taking the time to reflect is
critical. I’ve naturally always done a SWOT analysis of a school when I have
left trying to be as objective as possible about the school to help me decipher
what has and hasn’t worked I suppose to one day get clearer about the school I
would like to run. Simms Coaching also recommended listening to podcasts to
learn from as many different ideas as possible.
Know your own strengths and weaknesses
Mark Chatley for this one! I’ve been thinking about this during lockdown. I’ve
taken the Curriculum route into leadership but this year have immersed myself
into Pastoral side also. When I joined my current school as VP for T&L and
curriculum we had four months until the other VP joined who led on Pastoral and
Behavior so I took the opportunity to throw myself into that role before he
arrived. It was difficult but it taught me a lot and got me interested in
developing school culture.
important to be clear with your Manager or Head about your weaknesses and ask
to be developed in those areas. Ask to buddy someone if you have to. I know for
myself I haven’t touched timetabling yet and have bought this up so I know it’s
coming my way.
Get out there!
remember the wise words of a mentor I had during a middle leaders course I
completed 5 years ago. She was the Head of a Primary and she said “The biggest
problem Headteachers have is not enough people putting their hand up to take
care of stuff they need to get done. Do that and you’ll go far.” That advice
has never failed me. Although I would recommend you only take it on if you
think you can do it or at least give it a proper effort rather than overwhelm
all is said and done it is the advice of David Ellison that I’m left with.
never be ready enough so at some point you’ve just gotta dive in! Good luck!
I’d love to
hear what steps you have taken to develop to the next step in your career. Let