Almost 1.5 terms in now…!
This blog started as a weekly reflection of my journey into senior leadership. (Assistant Head Teacher for Inclusion.) However, as the workload has increased, along with the intensity of pressure, something had to give. Therefore, I proposed to blog once or twice a 1/2 term. So here is my term 2a’s post!
This period of work has been really interesting, not just in terms of what I have been doing but also about in relation to how much I am learning from others. I feel the ‘new boy’ status is truly wearing off and I am all hands on desk so to speak. I don’t think I can get away with walking in late to briefings, stating I have not got used to the times and locations still! I have got to know my team I lead and the senior leadership team much more. I have socialized with them a little and spent more time having individual non-work based conversations with them. Regrettably, still not all of them, but I am hopeful this will happen.
Despite having been at school since September, I am still not fully sure of every bodies name in school. (This is a target of mine!) Or where every room is/what the names of all the building are. I am also, still not entirely aware of all the students names. (1,400 students- this isn’t an easy task!) But… I am trying! I will continue to try until I know all the names and locations; confidently and clearly.
One way that will help me get to know all staff is by ensuring I attend all whole school events. By speaking to teachers that are leading different areas of school life and by involving myself in student lead initiatives. I genuinely enjoy this.
What has changed?
Since my last ramblings I have started teaching GCSE English to a very low ability class. My entire teaching timetable has increased. (I am over the moon about this as I was beginning to get withdrawal symptoms from teaching! I am focusing on the students re-doing their controlled assessments in order to improve their grades. The class consists of only 12 students. 3 of whom are statemented and all 9 others are School Action Plus on the school SEN/D register. Me, being the SENCO/AHT for Inclusion and an AST in Teaching and Learning wanted the opportunity to teach these students. It has been an eye opener for me, teaching students with such high level needs.
(The thought of me teaching a subject that I am not specialised in created some uproar on Twitter. With many blog posts and comments being written about the negative implications of this on my students and how maybe this was an irresponsible move… Anyhow, I won’t go into this further now, but I will return to this when the students results are published.)
Being a member of the SLT team I have been involved in many reviews; the Maths and English department for example. The senior leadership structure these reviews to deep dive into the teaching and learning of the team along with the leadership and management of the middle leaders.
What surprised me was that OFSTED would judge the schools leadership and management not JUST on the SLT but on all middle leaders too.
Therefore reviews in my mind were more justified.
The senior leadership team have also conducted a review of their own leadership. The Head invited in an external consultant who interviewed us all individually to ascertain what we felt about the school; about the vision and our roles. Random members of staff, both teaching and support who were not made known to us were also interviewed. Along with a sample of students.
The SLT also completed a SWOT analysis of ourselves both as a team and invididually and presented this to the consultant.
The review was then written up and SHARED with all staff; all of it. Our strengths as a team/individually (no names were mentioned) and our areas for development. What has been most refreshing is that we as a team didn’t just read the review and think oh, right, that’s nice, or that’s not true. We have moved forward…
Away day INSET:
The Assistant Head Teacher for CPD organised a very exciting away day INSET for all our staff. Everyone was offered the opportunity to visit an outstanding school of their choice with the aim of improving their practice. Whilst all teachers and middle leaders went away to observe and reflect, we did the same in school.
SLT were organised to complete a day of reflection and change. Based on the review, we all had to lead sessions on the teams development. I lead the opening of the day looking at what we found pleasing from the review, what we found worrying and what we can build on. Being able to faciliate a discussion of adults allowed me to practice my delivery and command in a room of colleagues. (Something I want to do more of.)
The day continued with setting our priorities for the remainder of this year. Working in pairs then groups we finalised a common vision. After a short break we looked into how we spend our times during meetings and how often we meet as a team. The general consensus was to work more in groups with an overall leader. Rather than having a solo approach to major school priorities.
After this came the oppurtunity for me to deliver another session; this time I presented a very brief reminder of what coaching (click here for my PP and resources) is and how we should use the coaching method more frequently in our interactions with colleagues. (Coaching is obviously not a new idea to the SLT; it was just suggested that mentoring at times could be reduced.)
After this we completed a ‘360 face to face.’ Prior to the day we all had to complete the following for each member of the SLT.
We then had to speak through these points to each other, face to face. For me this was fine. I was happy to listen to what limits my ability as a leader and how I can improve on them. For others this was a little more difficult. However, after the actual conversations, I feel all members found this more than helpful.
These are what my colleagues said of me;
I have fit in really well. I speak my mind and I am passionate and hardworking.
I am friendly, personable and caring. I care about all I do.
I am a fantastic teacher! I love everything about teaching and learning and it is contagious.
I am also keen to voice my opinion in a respectful and calm manner.
These are the areas for development/my weaknesses;
Body language and levels of interest- I must be careful to remain focused at all times during meetings and so on. I may at times appear ‘bored’ or ‘uninterested.’
Use of Twitter/Blogs– Is this self promotion? Is it needed? Am I wasting my time? Along with are the ‘things’ I am working on too short term? Gimmicky? Not longitudinal enough?
Find out EVERYTHING before making decisions– not be disheartened or annoyed at others not working at same pace as me.
I have been thinking about how I will work on the above points and my next post will link back to them…
The team of colleagues I work with are all amazing. They are hardworking, they are determined and experienced. Despite having worked at my school for a number of years they are not complacent. They are eager to develop, to refine and mould themselves to become better leaders, managers and teachers. This is refreshing for me to see; someone so new into senior leadership. I was worried about being involved in such an experienced group of people. I was frightened about taking on an area so new to me. I was worried how I would be perceived. How others would judge me. This review if anything, has alleviated some of those concerns.
Overall, as an SLT team we are in moments of transition. We are at the ‘cusp of outstanding’ and I am so pleased to be involved in these measurable changes. I am pleased to be a part of a school that works on developing personally for the children we serve and for the middle leaders we support.
Indeed my own area of inclusion is too going through the same transition. The new SEN code of practice will ensure whole school changes to common practices that many schools have been used to from 2001.
We are continuing working through the review by reassessing our working practices, or meeting schedules and so on. I have also asked all my team to email me with somethings I should continue, stop and start doing as a leader and a manager. (Results, in my next post!)
I really still need to work on managing my time better. My drive to and from work is still taking around two and hours a day. Leaving at 6.30am and returning home around 7pm. Nevertheless, I never forget how lucky I am to be working in such a privileged position at the age of 29.
Next post- I will also review my #Nurture1314 post…
Thanks for reading.