Week Seven- @ASTSupportaali

Seven weeks complete; easily this was one of my most intense, fast moving and educational weeks!

This week included another open morning, Governors meeting, EID, STRIKE action and another difficult conversation!


You don’t teach do you:

What struck me most about this week was on Thursday when the South underwent STRIKE action, all of our SMT- collectively with a genuine sense of team work chose not to strike to support the running of the school. Nobody was coerced, nobody was bullied/threatened- we all simply agreed.

Anyway- we decided we would cover the lessons and the Learning Support Team- my team would support still. This was interesting as Unison seem to totally go against their published literature. Anyhow…

Bearing in mind, I have not taught much since starting in this school and I am not completely known to all the students as of yet, I arrived to a computer room with over 45 students in Years 10 and 11 sat in the room. I got into an interesting exchange with a ‘cheeky’ Year 11 which really made me think…

‘How can you teach me sir, you’re SLT, you guys don’t teach!’

This young mans words aimed at me with some discomfort in his voice really got him riled. He genuinely believed because I am an Assistant HeadTeacher and part of the Senior Leadership Team that patrol the corridors, that are around at breaks and lunches, that lead assemblies, that exclude students, that we actually we don’t teach. Not only that, he thought we may never, ever have taught. Especially after stating…

‘Sir, you only started in September, and you are already an Assistant Head…’

After explaining to this young man, my history of TEACHING and how I am now an Assistant HeadTeacher he just said,

‘…Oh that makes sense, thats why your a BOSS.’

Which made me ponder…

How many staff actually see us SMT as Teachers before their ‘bosses‘? I have been referred to a few times by some TAs as my Boss? Somebody has also said oh Mr Ali, he is our boss. Again, I wonder…

My first priority in my school is Teaching and Learning. My role in my opinion is empowering all my team and developing them to be excellent practitioners in Teaching and Learning. To thus benefit the students.


I mean we are Assistant HeadTEACHERS, not Assistant HeadMASTERS? I just think many schools and staff do not see the SLT or SMT as Senior Teachers? Just Senior Staff. Is that what they are? Are we not Teachers first? then leaders, or managers? (See previous post about Leadership V Management!) I know which I am first… we as a school have a massive drive on teaching and learning, we have 6 ASTs and 1 SLE, we pride the fact that some of the strongest teachers in our school are actually in the SLT. I am really happy about this!

I have also read an interesting blog from @OldAndrewUK about How to be bad SMT– and I used it as a checklist of what not to do… or what not to become… but I do think some staff, will always think of us in a negative way, just because we are the ‘bosses’.  I know lots may argue with this, but I have been thinking long and hard about our role, the way we are seen and what other teachers expect of us…

Anyway- just wanted to share that in a muddled way- kind of how my brain works!


Days off:

Eid- was great! As always- taking a day off was weird, as now for the first time, upon returning I had a genuine rush and sense of responsibility in regards to the dept. the team, the area, my school. I felt as if I should never have been off- never felt like that before. @Teachertoolkit ‘s #GuiltyTeacher post comes to mind…


Hello Governor:

Presented at a Governors meeting on Thursday which was really nice. Speaking to them and letting them know what I have been up to actually showed me, personally how much I have really achieved in 7 weeks. They were blown away by my detail and reasoning and seemed ever so supportive. This really was what I needed!

Difficult Conversations:

As much as I am there to support and empower individuals I think my role is also just as much about challenging behaviour and practices that may detriment the overall objective of somebody’s role. Enough said about that- but having difficult conversations is something I have read a lot about, been involved in a lot of debate about in #SLTchat. I think all of those discussions paid off.

I have had a great term so far, been learning every day, been having lots of discussions and literally been soaking everything up…

This week- I am off to host a Conference on Tuesday- so out all day, Uni Weds- so out part of the day and visiting schools in Surrey- so out all day. Then Friday is the last day before a much needed rest and recuperation. Not had many late nights for the last two weeks which is great!




  1. Can’t work out from this what your teaching commitment is – can you clarify? I taught throughout my career, including as a Head. I think it’s a really important way of building your credibility (among students and staff)/ensuring you never forget the teacher perspective/getting to know others and getting to be known. As a Head I taught each of the Year 7 classes for one lesson a week (paired with their ‘usual’ English teacher so if I had to be out of school they were taught and didn’t suffer. And when I was in school I never scheduled things to clash with my teaching commitment). By Oct half term I could tell you the name of every pupil in Year 7 and after 7 years of doing this I knew the name of every pupil in the Senior School.

    As a Deputy Head I had quite a heavy teaching commitment. I think SLs and heads should teach (regularly) if it’s humanly possible. What do you think?

    • I do teach but for my initial term I have a reduced timetable of 12 hours a fortnight. Also I am not currently teaching GCSE subjects. I am working in our inclusion unit a lot. I Fully agree with you about teaching. Being an ASTS that’s all I ever want to do. However, it is Hard to learn the names of 1500 students. But I am trying. Thank you as always for your comment. Also- my teaching load will defo increase as I will make it increase! 

      • Thanks for this. Try not be daunted by having 1500 students to get to know – just make it a target to learn a few more names each week.

        In addition to getting to know those you teach you will get to know students (and staff) through extra-curricular events (see my comment on your last post – sorry it duplicated! Do feel free to delete one of them!) and day to day contact. Just take care you don’t only REALLY get to know the ones with significant behaviour issues and the stars. Most students are neither, and they need to know they’re still known and valued! Think about strategies for getting to know students that fall into this category?

      • All noted! Already planned lots of ways of doing this… not daunted- like the challenge! I am also aware of getting to know every student is vital- inclusion and all. 🙂
        thanks so much again.

  2. I find this interesting, as I’ve always thought that I’m a teacher first and then a CAL second. But whilst at my previous school I was told that I must think the other way, I’m a middle leader therefore I must think of that first and foremost. I aim to teach as much as possible as I came into this career to teach and encourage the young people of today to succeed in their learning and due to this I must keep a high teaching load.

    On a side note I’m enjoying reading about the early discoveries of your SLT career. I’ve not read the more up to date areas of the blog but I’m quietly wondering if you are still how you were when you started the post? What do you think?

    • Hi Simon, Thanks for reading. I am glad the blog has been useful for you so far. I would strongly advise to think you are a teacher who leads. I am definitely different from how I was when I first started… you read anymore?

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