The ‘Essential’ Skills

THIS blog is being written at 7:20am on Tuesday 5th January 2016.

My last official working day within my previous educational role was the 31st December. If we take out the Christmas holiday season, my last actual working day was the 23rd December. I am due to start a months contract teaching A level Business Studies on Friday, but this is my first day getting up and waiting for a call to go out and do supply work… if it comes?

While I sit here I have been reflecting on a documentary I recently watched featuring Barrack Obama and some of his words resonated with me. He suggested that All people should ‘find a way of being useful and further more always be kind‘. He followed this up by saying that in his experience ‘those that do better in life are those that have resilience and perseverance‘. The documentary was not based on any political venture, he was just talking openly and in a relaxed way about how he saw the world.

Being kind and being useful

As I sit here I am thinking about my own experiences. My own view of how to treat people is that you need to be fair, consistent and treat others with respect, whether that is a as a school leader or in the classroom. I have always made it my mission to never ask anyone, whether it be learners or colleagues, to do anything that I would not do. I believe that  this is a form of being kind. I also believe in being empathic to peoples needs which again is part of being kind. I have also, so far, managed to ensure that I am employed pretty much consistently from the age of 20 to now. I have even changed careers in my mid 20’s which involved re-training to ensure that I could still be useful. Of course, being kind and being useful means so much more, but this is my take on the word.

Resilience and perseverance

THIS is part of what I am doing now. There must be thousands of other supply teachers sat in the same position as me and waiting for a call? Many will have chosen this way of life and they will persevere with this uncertainty every morning. I know this is not for me! I am looking for a permanent position so I can build relationships with groups of learners or colleagues and help them to aspire to be achieve better than they thought possible by being fair and consistent. As I work towards this goal I am sure that I will suffer setbacks and rejection along the way. This is where I will need to show resilience to keep moving forward towards my goal. I have had to be resilient in my working life before after being treated in an unfair, inconsistent and unkind way by a previous employer in my distant past. I hope I never have to experience those feelings again but it has grown me as a person and has given me the experience of the working under unkind people. It has helped to further mould my thinking to be kinder and better person in everything I do. Further to this, it has taught me significantly more about being resilient! I always remember this little quote which does help me from time to time; ‘It doesn’t matter how many times you get hit, its about how many times you get hit and keep moving forward, that’s how winning is done!‘ (Bonus points for anyone who can identify where that quote comes from?).

I will always try and model these positive behaviours in the future. I believe that these behaviours can be taught/learnt and should form part of the broader school curriculum. It should also be part of a wider school ethos.

Its now 830am… I dont think I am getting a call today!

THIS gives me the opportunity to enjoy an additional day with my wife, go for a long walk, do a few jobs and enjoy the day in a different way. Life can really good IF YOU CAN remain positive! 🙂

 

Educational Leadership In 2016

THIS is a blog of what I am hoping to experience in 2016 from leaders of education.

As I start 2016 I have been offered a month’s work teaching A-level Business Studies at a school with a very good reputation.  I am looking forward to this experience and will take as much from it as possible as I search for my next permanent position in education, whatever that may be. I have learnt that it is important to take something from every experience in life. To learn new things about myself and to learn new things that will make me better at what I do.

Above all else I want to gain permanent employment in a school or college who treasure their best resource – the teachers! That is one thing that I have previously learnt. I would love to be able to work for leaders who have high expectations of their employee’s and who do everything they can to support their development. In my opinion, a leader should have even higher expectations of themselves than they do of their staff. They should set the level of expectation by how they act themselves and to provide consistency within the approach. If I gain a leadership role, this is how I will lead.

I have just read an Ofsted S5 report written about a school that has recently had an inspection visit. The school received a ‘good’ for the ‘Effectiveness of leadership and management category’. Of course this judgement is made up from many different pieces of evidence that would be collected, analysed and evaluated. What made me feel very disappointed was that it stated that since the last inspection over half the staff present at the previous inspection have left the school. This statement was made in the context of the school being given the good leadership and management grade… and it came across as a positive! Again, don’t get me wrong, this is only one small part of the evidence base, but for me this is not what good leadership is. In my opinion it does not promote any sort of consistency or provide positive motivation for staff who remain or may be tempted to apply for roles at the school?

Thinking a little further and if we make the assumption that 10% of staff may have gone through natural wastage; another 10% say, for people who could not/would not work within a given structure. Finally throw in another 10% for those who may have taken promotions at other schools. These statistics feel very generous but that still leaves 20% of the 50% that have left the school unaccounted for. ‘Good’ leadership for me would have been to reduce this high turnover. Good leadership would find ways to support  and encourage staff to be better, more consistent and encourage teachers to want to stay. For me that would be good leadership and a leadership approach that I would like to work within. It also raises the question about whether this is now the way in education? To positively promote the simple approach to getting rid of staff rather than to lead more effectively by helping people to be better?

Co-coincidently I have just started reading Alex Ferguson’s recently released book titled ‘Leading’. In the book he talks about developing skills in teamwork, discipline, resilience and motivation but one leadership stance sticks in my mind – ‘My Job was to make everyone understand that the impossible was possible‘. For me, this means that a leader supports their staff to be better at what they do, help improve their skills and to enhance their motivation towards the job that they are doing. I would like to think that it is better to keep and develop staff rather than lose them?

THIS would surely be a more positive aspect to respond to when reporting on a ‘good’ leadership and management judgement?

THIS is also a leadership approach that I would like to work within when I gain my next permanent educational role in 2016!