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What behaviours should a middle leader in a school environment demonstrate? What is going to be expected of you if you are aspiring to such a role? Is there anything you can be doing now that will help you to work towards becoming a good middle leader as defined by such behaviours? The UK DfE (Department for Education) outlines 7 behaviours as part of the leadership development National Professional Qualification (NPQ) suite that are expected of all leaders in schools to be developing and improving on. These include: commitment, collaboration, personal drive, awareness, resilience, integrity and respect. But what do these mean? These behaviour labels may seem intangible. In what way might you be able to show an example of these in your working life in school? I asked 17 school heads and members of senior leadership teams to share their views on how they would expect middle leaders to demonstrate these behaviours in practice. This is what they said – what would you say?
“Commitment – an example of how they have gone over and above in their work” – Mary, Special School Headteacher, @Mishwood1
“Dedication to doing the best they can for each individual learner and for each member of their team. Working hard and leading by example” – Jill Berry, Former head, now leadership consultant, @JillBerry102
“By going the extra mile and ensuring they are constantly developing self and team” – Kathleen Sorrell, Vice Principal, @Kat_S76
“Aligning themselves fully to the vision within the academy and following through” – Helena Brothwell, Principal, – @educurious2015
“We expect this of all of our teachers but I think for middle leaders that real ‘commitment’ to improving practice and driving practice forward outside of own classroom and indeed their own school is imperative. That middle leaders can demonstrate real impact wider and across the system whether that is through peer to peer support, leading CPD, leading a small team or leading on a particular initiative – all of the above show real commitment to improving the quality of teaching and learning through leadership. It has to be about that commitment to growing others and having impact to improve outcomes for all children” – Emma Bone, Executive Head and National Leader for Education, @bo_ebone
“A middle leader must be fully committed to school values, culture and vision. They must also be committed to the school priorities and ensure that those are met. One way of demonstrating these commitments is by supporting and managing up. Another way is by leading by example and thinking about how others perceive you” – Anoara Mughal, AHT, @anoara_a
“They should strive to meet deadlines and strive to ensure others do too”– Caroline Doolan, Assistant Head, @caroline_doolan
“I want to see a shared passion to transform lives, learning & communities in the disadvantaged & challenging contexts that I work. I want to see a commitment to the school values driven vision” – Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, Executive Principal & Leadership Coach, @ottleyoconnor
“Undertaking study towards a qualification – for example NCETM offer training to improve maths teaching, and a coordinator with additional personal expertise will be better able to fulfill their role” – Roy Souter, Headteacher, @Exe_Head
“As we are in the business of helping students succeed, I would be looking for people truly committed to helping ALL students. The most impressive educators are those that constantly go the extra mile to support our struggling students and those that are harder to love” – Charles Martin, Assistant Principal, @MrCharlesMartin
“See projects through to fruition. It’s not always about looking for the next step for promotion. Show that you care about the school and most importantly the pupils” – Tim Head, Assistant Head, @MrHeadComputing
“1) Length of time at school and current role or examples of loyalty at previous school, 2) Positive promotion of school with external stakeholders” – Stuart Maginnis, Principal, @StuartMaginnis
“Developing autonomy in the role, moving from seeking permission to innovate towards seeking guidance having already come up with ideas and having begun to put them into practice” – Jonny Walker, Primary Assistant Head, @JonnyWalker_Edu
“Prepared to give own time and effort to developing a less experienced colleague” – Andrew Cowley, Primary DHT, @andrew_cowley23
“Adherence to the school vision/ethos, devotion to the pursuit of excellence for all students. Walk the talk“ – Mark Adams, Senior Vice Principal, @2Markdavid
“Understanding the requirements of the role and ensuring the desired outcomes are achieved” – Damian Weare, Vice Principal, @damianweare46
“How they have influenced / led change involving a group of others in school” – Mary, Special School Headteacher, @Mishwood1
“Working AS a team and not just IN a team (as Dylan William says) – recognising that the strength of the team lies in the effective facilitation of the complementary skills and strengths of all members. The ML does not have to be the one with all the answers! Clear recognition and discussion of that” – Jill Berry, Former head, now leadership consultant, @JillBerry102
“By being open to various methods of developing, for example teach meets, Facebook groups, working with different subject areas” – Kathleen Sorrell, Vice Principal, @Kat_S76
“Working with colleagues to share their best practice. Putting themselves out to support others, e.g letting new staff observe them” – Helena Brothwell, Principal, @educurious2015
“For me, when I did my NPQH the bit that most resonated about growing new teams and ‘Leading from the Middle’ was the idea of Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing. I have returned to this many times particularly when growing a new SLT as I have now done several times. At the heart of collaboration is listening, really listening. The stages – forming: when middle leaders begin to learn about each other and start to develop a rationale for how their group will function. As a Senior Leader, what I am looking for here is those who listen, evaluate, reflect and demonstrate understanding and credibility. Storming: The stage where differences and conflict potentially come to light – particularly when members are new to the team. A period of growth will result often as a direct result of conflict! Norming: this is the beginning of realising the power of true collaboration. A sense of shared goals and visions are achieved and productivity increases as a result and relationships flourish with all pulling in the same direction. Performing: where the sky is the limit. This means the team have achieved the utopia of healthy professional disagreement and harness the power of it to achieve true growth. Progress in this way is only possible where true collaboration exists. At its strongest, every member fully embraces accountability for every child and every team member” – Emma Bone, Executive Head and National Leader for Education, @bo_ebone
“Collaboration begins with opening up the doors of communication, listening, developing a team culture and having a motivating demeanour. Making yourself available to staff is also important. Having an open door policy and giving staff time even when they may have 100 e-mails to attend to or books to mark. Sharing resources and insights about pupils is also a collaborative strategy. Consulting with staff and pupils to identify issues in the department are also important. Effective communication is also important when establishing the vision and purpose and also to understand the rationale behind the day-to-day decisions. Frequent dialogue sharing whether it is discussing teaching and learning or issues arising in the department is a key feature of the collaborative process” – Anoara Mughal, AHT, @anoara_a
“Be willing to work with senior leaders to make and shape policies and also other departments to move the school forward, e.g. amending the marking policy” – Caroline Doolan, Assistant Head, @caroline_doolan
“Middle leaders need to be able to enthuse & engage their team through articulating a compelling vision to empower them to effect impactful & sustainable change. I regard myself as a collaborative entrepreneur & look for others with the intention to lead through motivating and energising students, colleagues and other educational staff, uniting them around a shared values driven vision. In addition middle leaders must be able to empower colleagues so that they secure personal growth by utilising a well-developed toolkit, including, coaching, mentoring, supporting & challenging team members to be the best they can be” – Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, Executive Principal & Leadership Coach, @ottleyoconnor
“Attending and participating fully in any training events and meetings with colleagues performing the same role in other schools. Being able and willing to share their ideas, as well as to use the ideas of others to refine practice in our school” – Roy Souter, Headteacher, @Exe_Head
“I love team players, people always willing to give a hand. Everyone is busy but it’s often always the same ones raising their hand to volunteer their help” – Charles Martin, Assistant Principal, @MrCharlesMartin
“Work with the SLT, with staff in other phases and other schools. Moderate with others to check your own practice. It also stops you from getting stale and “doing what we have always done” – Tim Head, Assistant Head, @MrHeadComputing
“1) Working positively with dept’ colleagues, 2) Promoting work with colleagues around the school and celebrating the success of this, 3) Actively seeking to work with external colleagues and organisations” – Stuart Maginnis, Principal, @StuartMaginnis
“A sensitivity toward the ways in which their work might impact upon the work of others, and a desire to tackle issues alongside colleagues, rather than ‘competing’ for esteem or for other school resources like curriculum time and CPD time” – Jonny Walker, Primary Assistant Head, @JonnyWalker_Edu
“Working with an open mind with subject leaders in other schools in moderation and sharing work” – Andrew Cowley, Primary DHT, @andrew_cowley23
“Working effectively with all stakeholders (internal and external) to secure the above [commitment]. Cross curricular, working parties, effective parental engagement etc“ – Mark Adams, Senior Vice Principal, @2Markdavid
“Problem solving as a member of a team and contributing solutions for consideration” – Damian Weare, Vice Principal, @damianweare46
“CPD they have initiated themselves e.g. reading they’ve done or training they’ve been on” – Mary, Special School Headteacher, @Mishwood1
“Determination to continue to learn and grow as a leader. Acceptance that they have never ‘cracked it’ and a commitment to their ongoing learning and development – whether they aspire to Senior Leadership of not” – Jill Berry, Former head, now leadership consultant, @JillBerry102
“By always seeking to be the best and being open to learning” – Kathleen Sorrell, Vice Principal, @Kat_S76
“I was always taught to do the job you want, not the job you have. I value it when staff step up first and demonstrate why I need them at the next level, then when a role comes up they are well placed” – Helena Brothwell, Principal, @educurious2015
“Personal Drive is not, for me, about doing more things but showing a commitment to do things well. Personal Drive is what gets people out of bed in the morning and that is different for different people but as a Senior Leader I am looking for those who turn ideas into action and action into results. They are tough in times of challenge and lead by example (set the weather!). They are able to be truly reflective, demonstrate resilience and model this for all team members. As developing leaders it is about getting their teams to understand not the what but the why – about empowering others to deliver great results” – Emma Bone, Executive Head and National Leader for Education, @bo_ebone
“This is an important leadership behaviour. Having ambition and inner drive to make and implement change and sustain it is required to drive change at school level. A middle leader must have high standards of their staff and pupils and be results driven. They must be ambitious for themselves, their staff and the pupils they teach” – Anoara Mughal, AHT, @anoara_a
“Be reflective as well as ambitious, thinking about their own performance and that of their team so that improvements are made” – Caroline Doolan, Assistant Head, @caroline_doolan
“I want middle leaders to be ambitious. Not just for themselves, but for their colleagues & all students. They should have the same high expectations of themselves as they do of those that lead them, their team & their students. Middle leaders should continually seek opportunities to support the development of their colleagues. I look for leaders that are prepared to work outside of their comfort zone. They should have a willingness to learn & develop/acquire new knowledge, skills or experiences regardless of the personal challenge” – Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, Executive Principal & Leadership Coach, @ottleyoconnor
“Putting themselves forward to take part in activities outside the core role of class teacher. For example, offering to run the School Council, shadowing senior leaders, running an after school reading event. Not waiting to be asked, but taking the initiative and suggesting things that will benefit the children” – Roy Souter, Headteacher, @Exe_Head
“Leaders must first and foremost be learners. I would look for educators that have a track record of being involved in continuous and never-ending improvement. Professional growth is our responsibility. I would be looking for people that assume that responsibility” – Charles Martin, Assistant Principal, @MrCharlesMartin
“Understand how you want to improve yourself as a leader, but understand that this must be driven by how you can help the pupils. How is you going on umpteen courses going to translate into benefits for your pupils?” – Tim Head, Assistant Head, @MrHeadComputing
“1) Looking to keep aware of subject changes, 2) Take responsibility of their own CPD, 3) Looks for whole school responsibility” – Stuart Maginnis, Principal, @StuartMaginnis
“A desire to self-improve is evident through personal and professional actions” – Andrew Cowley, Primary DHT, @andrew_cowley23
“Ambition and determination to be the best at what they do. Dedicated“ – Mark Adams, Senior Vice Principal, @2Markdavid
“The desire to be successful, demonstrated through attention to detail and the capacity to achieve goals” – Damian Weare, Vice Principal, @damianweare46
“How they have recognised challenges in achieving a goal but have overcome those challenges and achieved the goal anyway” – Mary, Special School Headteacher, @Mishwood1
“The capacity to recover (quickly) from mistakes/failures/disappointments – not to dwell on them and ‘hug the hurt’ to themselves, but to be determined to reflect, learn and move on – do better next time” – Jill Berry, Former head, now leadership consultant, @JillBerry102
“By being strong in character despite challenges” – Kathleen Sorrell, Vice Principal, @Kat_S76
“Resilience is key in the school I work in and is a key part of our values. Staff must be able to withstand tricky days, emotionally and physically, so we take well-being very seriously and work hard to reduce workloads” – Helena Brothwell, Principal, @educurious2015
“Crucial. It’s a hugely rewarding role but can, at times, be tough. I think particularly middle leadership as you are often the conduit between the Head and the team. Sometimes you have to stick your smile on, roll up your sleeves and get on with it and that resilience is supported only when you have an SLT that work truly as a team. The dictionary definition of resilience is all about ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.’ Are middle leaders able to be truly reflective and constantly driven to re-evaluate and improve their own practice – if they don’t it is going to be incredibly hard for them to achieve credibility with their teams” – Emma Bone, Executive Head and National Leader for Education, @bo_ebone
“This can be demonstrated by having a strong character, never giving up in the face of adversity, being solutions focused. Encouraging others and inspiring in the face of adversity, having a growth mindset and being bold. Being prepared and expecting to fail and being able to self-reflect from that failure makes a middle leader highly resilient. Having a solutions focused attitude can help you get back up and start again. When the going gets tough, being part of a professional network both within and beyond school can be useful and can add to the resilience. Being professionally informed and bold can also improve resilience. Having the weight of research evidence, as back up or stimulus, when risk-taking means that you can develop justification when trialling new teaching methods” – Anoara Mughal, AHT, @anoara_a
“Adapting to changes and potentially stressful situations and remaining calm. E.g. being head of department and sorting cover when two colleagues call in sick” – Caroline Doolan, Assistant Head, @caroline_doolan
“I tell middle leaders that “We learn from mistakes & some days I do a lot of learning!” I genuinely believe that we should learn from our mistakes & actively share & celebrate these learning opportunities! It is by modelling and demonstrating this level of emotional maturity that enables leaders to remain focused when faced by increasingly challenging circumstances. I look for middle leaders who demonstrate the ability to respond appropriately, manage uncertainty and bounce back even in times of pressure and the most trying of situations. I also expect middle leaders to own their own mental health and wellbeing. As well as looking after their colleagues, they must be able to demonstrate that they can and will look after themselves” – Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, Executive Principal & Leadership Coach, @ottleyoconnor
“Resilience, for me is the most powerful attribute a leader can have in their armour. It doesn’t come naturally. Experience. In our roles, we will constantly have high expectations of our learners and of ourselves. And yes, ultimately we are under relentless pressure. As a leader, I have the expectation that leaders around me will adopt a mind-set that is positive. In every scenario or moment. We are all presented with many challenging circumstances but quite simply, we should approach with an intent to resolve and move forward for all involved. Being resilient for me, we display strong character and awareness of others. Others are important. Because we work together. We bounce back and we try to lead by example. A leader who learns from a negative experience is a leader who will be stronger next time. Emotional intelligence. Nothing is easy. We should give leaders time, opportunity and support to approach with an intent to resolve and move forward. Positively” – Ritesh Patel, SLE, @Mr_Patel100
“Resilience isn’t about how you feel, but how you react to those feelings. No-one likes being challenged or to have their ideas questioned, but if you are asking teachers to change their practice they won’t always do this without being convinced that it’s the right thing to do. Understanding that initial negativity is not personal is a huge step” – Roy Souter, Headteacher, @Exe_Head
“Leadership is a demanding job. Resilience is in large part the result of having a clear set of values and beliefs. People that know who they are, what they want and what they believe in are more apt to stay the course when they face bumps along the way. Therefore, I would look for people that have deeply reflected about their profession and have a strong internal compass that guides them” – Charles Martin, Assistant Principal, @MrCharlesMartin
“Leadership is tough. Some days more so than others. You need to be able to develop a thick skin when parents are not happy. You also need to use this when you learn horrifying things about children through safeguarding issues. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and face each new day with a smile” – Tim Head, Assistant Head, @MrHeadComputing
“1) How they react when things get tough – can’t be a mood Hoover! 2) solution focussed leaders” – Stuart Maginnis, Principal, @StuartMaginnis
“Developing awareness of the inevitability that things will not always go as well as planned, but the versatility to recognise the bad in a seemingly good outcome, and the good in a seemingly bad outcome. This ‘rolling with the punches’ allows for a more resilient approach to the role, which doesn’t require regular Herculean acts of strength and perfection, but regular sustainable improvements, even if small” – Jonny Walker, Primary Assistant Head, @JonnyWalker_Edu
“Able to recognise what may not have worked but to learn from it and not to walk away” – Andrew Cowley, Primary DHT, @andrew_cowley23
“An unyielding drive in the pursuit of excellence, solution focused, unwavering in the face of barriers” – Mark Adams, Senior Vice Principal, @2Markdavid
“Adapting to changes quickly, positively and in a professional manner” – Damian Weare, Vice Principal, @damianweare46
“Able to see / understand the whole school picture and understand how decisions they are making impact on the wider school” – Mary, Special School Headteacher, @Mishwood1
“To know each member of their team, and the students they teach, very well. What are they good at – and are we making the most of it? Where are they developing, and what support and constructive challenge do I need to offer them if they are to be their personal and professional best? – Jill Berry, Former head, now leadership consultant, @JillBerry102
“By recognising when further or different action is required and not being shy to address issues” – Kathleen Sorrell, Vice Principal, @Kat_S76
“Critical to building relationships at all levels – this is the bit you can’t teach. Staff must be self-aware and able to adapt on a six-pence to any given situation” – Helena Brothwell, Principal, @educurious2015
“Awareness of self is crucial as is awareness of others around them. Listening, looking and reflecting. Are they able to really look at themselves as leaders? Know thy impact? Are they aware that they set the weather – strive for the best but also make decisions to gate keep staff from new initiatives for example? Are they able to take feedback and constructive criticism and truly understand their leadership styles and the impact that each will have on others? Emotional intelligence is a critical skill here too” – Emma Bone, Executive Head and National Leader for Education, @bo_ebone
“Awareness is required for team building and deploying staff effectively. Being perceptive and having an understanding about how a member of staff may be feeling is a key skill for a middle leader. Balancing support and challenge at the right time can be skilfully used to enhance performance. Self-awareness to situations is crucial for a middle leader. In addition to this, having an awareness of others, including individual motivating factors and strengths is also important. Having diplomacy and holding people to account is also important. Middle leaders need to be aware of current research, practice and pedagogy. A middle leader also needs to be diplomatic, being able to have difficult conversations without alienation. Other areas where diplomacy is required include when giving feedback, managing up and reviewing performance. Middle leaders must not only be fully committed to the role itself but also have an awareness and commitment to the language they use to promote positive behaviours from those they lead” – Anoara Mughal, AHT, @anoara_a
“Being aware of the needs and qualities of their team and using but also developing them accordingly. E.g. setting up a working party to improve the marking in the department” – Caroline Doolan, Assistant Head, @caroline_doolan
“I look for middle leaders that have an accurate perception of their own strengths, weaknesses and unconscious bias, as well as knowing how their own behaviour impacts on others and what actions are required to take steps to improve. Middle leaders must see and own their own emotional triggers and manage these effectively, as well as understanding their own level of capability, accountability and authority in any situation” – Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, Executive Principal & Leadership Coach, @ottleyoconnor
“Knowing when to push and when to ease off a bit. Linked to resilience, when you’re asking people to try something new or different listen to their responses, and be prepared to slow down the implementation of a new strategy or approach if people are struggling” – Roy Souter, Headteacher, @Exe_Head
“As a leader, it is important to have empathy. I would be looking for people who know their surroundings, who spend the time to connect with their colleagues and students. You can’t really be aware of your environment if you don’t know your people” – Charles Martin, Assistant Principal, @MrCharlesMartin
“Every decision and action you take is like dropping a pebble into a lake. It is the ripples that can cause upset. Not just the initial splash. Also know your staff well enough to spot when all is not right. People will not always tell you when they are struggling” – Tim Head, Assistant Head, @MrHeadComputing
“Keep up to date with subject pedagogy and exam board changes” – Stuart Maginnis, Principal, @StuartMaginnis
“A clear recognition of the realities of what goes on in classrooms, and the understanding that it is this – rather than what they have on their action plan – that will guide them towards a clearer picture of how things are going. An idea may be great, but may not work immediately in practice; is the teacher present enough across the school to see this, and to talk to teachers about it? And in addition, there should be an emotional awareness of how their interactions might affect others – this cannot be presumed, and may need to be coached” – Jonny Walker, Primary Assistant Head, @JonnyWalker_Edu
“Knowing when to intervene/stop talking/leave another to develop for self” – Andrew Cowley, Primary DHT, @andrew_cowley23
“An appreciation of the latest evidence based research. An acute awareness of performance of staff and students” – Mark Adams, Senior Vice Principal, @2Markdavid
“Show empathy, know the team and build upon the individual members’ strengths whilst being aware of their weaknesses, then providing appropriate support and guidance” – Damian Weare, Vice Principal, @damianweare46
“Doing what is right by the children even it is a challenging conversation with someone they work with / have a friendship with – – Mary, Special School Headteacher, @Mishwood1
“Always honest, truthful, open. Never complain about one member of the team to another. Don’t over-promise, and delivery what they say they will” – Jill Berry, Former head, now leadership consultant, @JillBerry102
“By living out sound moral values at all times” – Kathleen Sorrell, Vice Principal, @Kat_S76
“Integrity – because what do you have if you don’t have that?” – Helena Brothwell, Principal, @educurious2015
“The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles – crucial in leadership. This is particularly difficult at times when different educators may have different moral principles. For our team – our key principle is ‘Children first – in every decision that we take’ – this is what I am looking for in our middle leaders. That through tricky conversations, tough decisions they keep this at the forefront. Sometimes it is necessary to deliver tough messages and that shouldn’t be involved for the good of our children but always done with honesty and care. Deliver the tough messages and survive the tough times but remember to treat all with dignity and respect” – Emma Bone, Executive Head and National Leader for Education, @bo_ebone
“Middle leaders must have the ability to develop relational trust between team members. This will enable collaboration and innovation. In addition to this there must a personal regard for others and expertise of teaching and learning. Openness where leaders tactfully but honestly share their views and raise concerns leads to high levels of integrity. They must lead by example and demonstrate moral leadership” – Anoara Mughal, AHT, @anoara_a
“Thinking before speaking, not gossiping, not building a ‘them and us’ between head of department and SLT. Even if they don’t agree with the decision they must be seen to support it in front of colleagues” – Caroline Doolan, Assistant Head, @caroline_doolan
“I expect middle leaders to act in ways that are principled and built upon a clear set of personal values. A middle leader must model an unswerving belief that they have a crucial role to play in changing lives and improving life chances. It is not enough to honestly say the right thing; instead, a middle leader’s behaviour, actions and decisions must be made with the best interests of children at heart” – Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, Executive Principal & Leadership Coach, @ottleyoconnor
“Don’t say anything unkind or untrue to or about anyone. As Gandhi said, ‘Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony” – Roy Souter, Headteacher, @Exe_Head
“I would be looking for educators that constantly display strong moral principles and honesty in how they interact with students, parents, and colleagues” – Charles Martin, Assistant Principal, @MrCharlesMartin
“To be a leader you need to be credible. You gain credibility by showing you have integrity. Don’t share information that shouldn’t be shared and most importantly walk the walk!” – Tim Head, Assistant Head, @MrHeadComputing
“1) Acts with gravitas but confidential, 2) Demonstrates high level of emotional intelligence” – Stuart Maginnis, Principal, @StuartMaginnis
“Integrity – Their actions match their words, quite simply. If something is planned, it is planned sensitively without unrealistic ambition, and every effort is made to make it happen. No promise is made to teachers that cannot be kept – they have enough unpredictability as it is. Manifests most clearly in the extent to which their words are matched by their actions, and the extent to which both are oriented towards providing the most ideal whole school context for good learning” – Jonny Walker, Primary Assistant Head, @JonnyWalker_Edu
“Honest, clear personal values, will take one for the team” – Andrew Cowley, Primary DHT, @andrew_cowley23
“Morally upright in beliefs and actions, unshakable, a sincere approach with staff and students, humility” – Mark Adams, Senior Vice Principal, @2Markdavid
“Be professional throughout in all that they do, showing a clear understanding of their responsibilities. They should also possess the self-awareness to seek further guidance and support as and when required” – Damian Weare, Vice Principal, @damianweare46
“Ensuring equality / diversity is recognised in the decisions they are making / day to day practice” – Mary, Special School Headteacher, @Mishwood1
“Earn it and give it. Show respect for others and gain it by doing the best job they can and continuing to learn and grow in the role. Establish and maintain mutual trust across the team” – Jill Berry, Former head, now leadership consultant, @JillBerry102
“By being open and embracing of all despite differences” – Kathleen Sorrell, Vice Principal, @Kat_S76
“Respect – even more than this though, we must be explicit in our treatment of each other – purposefully kind, students must know ‘with certainty’ that we care about them (Paul Dix)” – Helena Brothwell, Principal, @educurious2015
“Respect for all. Intrinsic. Respect for every child, every member of our team, every parent and every professional” – Emma Bone, Executive Head and National Leader for Education, @bo_ebone
“Middle leaders must demonstrate this at all times towards pupils and those that they lead. One way of showing this is if there is a difference of opinion to challenge people behind closed doors and not publicly. They must protect the reputation of the people they lead. They must know how to lead with both strength and boldness and a degree of humility, respecting others’ opinions. Working collegially is another way of demonstrating respect” – Anoara Mughal, AHT, @anoara_a
“Treat everyone fairly and be polite and calm” – Caroline Doolan, Assistant Head, @caroline_doolan
“Respect is a two-way street. Middle leaders must gain respect and model respect to all others. Whilst understanding the perspectives and priorities of others, middle leaders must demonstrate the intention to make a positive impact on colleagues, students and the wider community. As such, they should be able to convince others and bring them round to their perspective” – Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, Executive Principal & Leadership Coach, @ottleyoconnor
“Thank people publically for their efforts, especially when you know they’ve tried hard to make a success of a new project or initiative that you’re involved with” – Roy Souter, Headteacher, @Exe_Head
“As a leader, you will have to present and defend positions and ideas that could be unpopular. It is important to be able to articulate clearly such positions in a respectful and considerate way. I would be looking for people that not only have strong beliefs but that can also articulate and sell them in a way that always shows consideration and respect for others” – Charles Martin, Assistant Principal, @MrCharlesMartin
“Treat everyone the same. It doesn’t matter whether head, cleaner, cook, or caretaker. They are all humans. Treat people how you would like to be treated. This is the same for parents. NEVER EVER patronise” – Tim Head, Assistant Head, @MrHeadComputing
“1) Best leaders command respect with colleagues 2) Good results and ability in classrooms, 3) Walk the Walk, 4) have kindness and humility” – Stuart Maginnis, Principal, @StuartMaginnis
“The middle leader should over time come to recognise the different approaches being taken by other middle and senior leaders, even if these other approaches strike them as wrong-minded, initially. Certain ways of doing things may be better than others, but may not be the most effective way for that particular leader to work; understanding and respecting how others choose to work, in a working culture that allows middle leaders real autonomy, helps leaders to reflect on their own emerging styles. This does not mean there can be no critical interactions, but that these professional dialogues shouldn’t take place in the context of ‘I’m right, they’re wrong’ but, ‘What might they achieve by doing things in this way?’” – Jonny Walker, Primary Assistant Head, @JonnyWalker_Edu
“Knows boundaries with SLT, parents, children” – Andrew Cowley, Primary DHT, @andrew_cowley23
“Genuine admiration for others’ achievements – however big or small they are perceived to be. Willing to give praise openly and in private. Supportive of staff” – Mark Adams, Senior Vice Principal, @2Markdavid
“Be kind and caring, let others know that their thoughts and feelings are important. Inculcate mutual self-respect within the team by demonstrating personal self-respect” – Damian Weare, Vice Principal, @damianweare46
What about you? Do you agree or disagree with these examples? Can you add any other views of interpretations of the 7 leadership behaviours not considered above? Please do add your comments below and discuss on Twitter.
With thanks to all heads and SLT members from various schools and countries who gave their time and effort to contribute to the co-creation of this blog post.
List of contributors
- Mary, Special School Headteacher, @Mishwood1
- Jill Berry, Former head, now leadership consultant, @JillBerry102
- Kathleen Sorrell, Vice Principal, @Kat_S76
- Helena Brothwell, Principal, – @educurious2015
- Emma Bone, Executive Head and National Leader for Education, @bo_ebone
- Anoara Mughal, AHT, @anoara_a
- Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, Executive Principal & Leadership Coach, @ottleyoconnor
- Roy Souter, Headteacher, @Exe_Head
- Charles Martin, Assistant Principal, @MrCharlesMartin
- Tim Head, Assistant Head, @MrHeadComputing
- Stuart Maginnis, Principal, @StuartMaginnis
- Jonny Walker, Primary Assistant Head, @JonnyWalker_Edu
- Andrew Cowley, Primary DHT, @andrew_cowley23
- Mark Adams, Senior Vice Principal, @2Markdavid
- Damian Weare, Vice Principal, @damianweare46
- Caroline Doolan, Assistant Head, @caroline_doolan
- Ritesh Patel, SLE, @Mr_Patel100
Was one of your New Year’s resolutions to up your game and start doing more around school, giving more of yourself in your teaching career? Perhaps you feel like now is the time to start making the transition from teacher to educational leader/manager. If so, there are a number of avenues to explore. You can start to think about what experience you have and what you might need, you might start looking for jobs or try for internal promotion, or just seek out ways of taking on more responsibility. You could also investigate and embark on a DfE NPQML or NPQSL. And there’s also the slightly more in depth and academic MA Education in Leadership and Management route. Whichever option you decide on, reading around the issue and talking to others with experience will always help.
This blog post presents a summary of 23 resources to help you start that journey.
3 Twitter accounts to follow that will prove useful in terms of support and information:
- @NewToSLT – https://twitter.com/NewToSLT
- @SLTChat – https://twitter.com/SLTchat
- @JillBerry102 – https://twitter.com/jillberry102
4 online news articles by Jill Berry that will help set you in the right direction:
- Stepping Up: What Makes a Great Head of Department: https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/feb/26/head-of-department-schools-career-advice
- 10 Top Tips for Teachers Heading into School Leadership Teams: https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/aug/26/top-tips-teachers-school-senior-leadership-team
- Becoming a Headteacher: 4 things future leaders need to know: https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2017/jan/24/becoming-a-headteacher-what-future-leaders-need-to-know
- Support Versus Challenge: How school leaders can strike the right balance: https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2016/apr/17/support-vs-challenge-how-school-leaders-can-strike-the-right-balance
1 Free Kindle book to obtain more leadership insights:
- High Challenge, Low Threat: How the Best Leaders Find Balance, by Mary Myatt: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/190971786X/ref=cm_sw_r_em_api_c_32CWzb4BEK5BR
3 Edu blogs to follow and explore to get you thinking about relevant issues:
- carolslearningcurve.com – e.g.:
- Analyzing and Identifying Personal Educational Leadership Needs, by @DrCWebbBAPhD: https://carolslearningcurve.com/2017/11/21/analysing-identifying-personal-educational-leadership-needs-aspects-to-research-and-tools-to-help-analyse-sltchat-womened-womened/
- Starting to think about the bigger picture – education policies and where they come from: https://carolslearningcurve.com/2017/11/17/educational-leaders-do-you-know-where-your-policies-come-from-at-the-global-and-international-level-by-drcwebbbaphd-sltchat/
4 great TED talks on leadership:
- How Great Leaders Inspire Action, by Simon Sinek: https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action
- Why Good Leaders Make you Feel Safe, by Simon Sinek: https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_why_good_leaders_make_you_feel_safe
- What it Takes to be a Great Leader, by Rosalinde Torres: https://www.ted.com/talks/roselinde_torres_what_it_takes_to_be_a_great_leader
- Everyday Leadership, by Drew Dudley: https://www.ted.com/talks/drew_dudley_everyday_leadership
3 other useful books available through Amazon:
- How to Become a School Leader, & Leadership for Learning, by Matt Bromley: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Become-School-Leader-Leadership-Learning/dp/1491065346/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1515818153&sr=8-2&keywords=how+to+become+a+school+leader
- Becoming a School Leader, by C Bonnici: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1475803605/ref=cm_sw_r_em_api_c_MCDWzb7K0TY81
- The Mindful School Leader: Practices to Transform your Leadership and School, by Brown and Olson: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/148330308X/ref=cm_sw_r_em_api_c_8CDWzb4W3WBDM
5 Other Practical and/or Academic Resources to Get Your Grey Matter Going:
- Coleman M and Earley P eds (2005) Leadership and Management in Education; Oxford: Oxford University Press
- Coleman M and Glover D eds (2010) Educational Leadership and Management: Developing Insights and Skills; Maidenhead: Open University Press
- Teacher Development Agency (TDA) (2008) The Little Book of Managing Change
- Tolhurst J (2006) Coaching for Schools: A Practical Guide to Building Leadership Capacity; Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd.
Whatever Education Leadership & Management CPD you are engaging in, be it an MA or the DfE NPQML, NPQSL or NPQH, or something else, chances are you will have to complete a weekly, reflective log. This is for your personal development and you are meant to focus on your practice as an aspiring or developing education leader/manager, with the aim of reflective growth based on what you are learning through the theory on your course. Even if you are not engaging in a specific programme of learning, you might well see the benefit as an aspiring or developing educational leader in taking stock of what it’s all about. Reflective log writing is an amazing way to do this.
So, for example, you may one week decide to observe leadership and management in practice around you in your educational setting. You may take special note of how your Head does things, what they do, other members of SLT, middle leaders perhaps. You may look at how they engage with others and get things done. What are they doing and why? Could you perhaps say they have a particular style? Can you link this back to literature based on what you are learning on your course? What do you personally learn from this? Can you reflect on your own leadership style and preferences and relate what you have seen in others and from the literature to your own practice? Now you’ve had a look in the mirror, is there anything you’d do differently? Do you want to change your style and approach to leadership? Why? What personal values underpin this? Do you see any personal room for improvement and/or goal setting? Would you think it of value to set a SMART goal for yourself?
All of this reflection would revolve around looking in the mirror at your own practice in your own setting. Week by week you should be able to recognise and acknowledge personal growth and confidence based on this. You should become increasingly aware of different aspects of educational leadership and management in ever more detail in reference to your own setting, personal values and action.
You might struggle to know what to reflect on each week, however, so below is a list of 20 ideas to get you started. This isn’t meant to be a prescriptive list, but it is certainly a good starting point. You could use some of these ideas, or develop your own once you’ve got the hang of it.
Idea 1: What’s your why? Reflect on your reasons for wanting to engage in Education Leadership & Management CPD. Why do you want to do it? Then ask why that is important to you as a reason. What was your trigger? If you had to tell this as a short story, what’s your story until now (I personally prefer to develop a personal narrative rather than a ‘why’)? What is your goal concerning this? What is the reality of your situation? What ownership, accountability and responsibility are you willing to take on in order to meet your goals? What options do you have as to how you can achieve your goal? What are you going to do about it? (NB: I just introduced you to the coaching GROW model: G = goal, R = reality, O = options, and W = what are you going to do about it). Can you find an academic / scholarly article to link to this reflection?
Idea 2: What constrains leadership in your setting? What policies do you have to put into practice? Where does this policy come from? Can you give examples from your own day to day practice where this policy has an impact and how? In what ways do your local Edu leaders / managers implement these policies? Does this influence the style of leadership required? How? Do you think there is any room for improvement? What might you suggest could be changed to make this better? Have a look at some highlights from an article based on the background of policy at https://carolslearningcurve.com/2017/11/17/educational-leaders-do-you-know-where-your-policies-come-from-at-the-global-and-international-level-by-drcwebbbaphd-sltchat/ – if you scroll to the bottom you will also see a list of bodies that create and influence policy at the global and international level.
Idea 3: Can you make links between your national context and your setting? How does this shape and impact on leadership and management at your local level? How does this impact on your own practice and what you are expected to do in your role? For example, in England, party politics, cabinet reshuffles and general elections all have a huge impact on educational policy that filters down to schools, and these impacts change frequently, leaving teachers often apathetic, disenchanted or frustrated with the pace of change, which twists in dramatic turns and directions. On the other hand, other countries have very different histories, cultures and government backgrounds. See for example some factors highlighted about education in the Gulf and the UAE at https://carolslearningcurve.com/2017/11/20/the-shape-of-education-policy-in-the-gulf-impacts-of-the-economic-imperative-coming-from-the-regional-and-international-gcc-level/ and scroll down to the bottom of that page to see more links pertaining in particular to the context of the UAE. How do the factors highlighted shape, constrain or provide opportunities in your setting and practice? What does it require of you as an aspiring or developing leader? Can you create and personal CPD SMART goals with respects to the issues identified?
Idea 4: Can you conduct a personal leadership assessment? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you need to work on? What opportunities do you have to help others and share your best practice? Can you do a 360 degree leadership assessment and find out from others how they perceive you? Can you do some work on examining your own values? Do you know yourself? Do you understand why you have some preferences for some ways of doing things, and not others? Can you link to tools to help you do this? Have a look at https://carolslearningcurve.com/2017/11/21/analysing-identifying-personal-educational-leadership-needs-aspects-to-research-and-tools-to-help-analyse-sltchat-womened-womened/ to give you some more tips.
Idea 5: What alignment do you have in your current setting? What educational vision for leadership and management do you have? If you had to start your own free school from scratch tomorrow, what educational paradigm would you establish it on and why? What learning theories would you advocate, what methods, tools and approaches would you seek to embed and promote the school on? Does this cohere with your own setting now or is there divergence? Do you feel as though you have alignment between your vision and values and that of the organisation you are currently working in? How? If not, what might you do to perhaps create more alignment or find somewhere you felt you had better fit? Consider the issues presented at https://carolslearningcurve.com/2017/11/27/educational-leadership-challenge-developing-a-vision-values-a-paradigm-theory-pick-n-mix/ – can you link to theory and approaches you as a leader would lean towards creating a vision on?
Idea 6: How do you define leadership? What’s the difference between leadership and management for you in your experience, practice and current setting? Can you give examples? What would you consider good and bad examples of leadership? Why? Can you link to examples and literature and set yourself some personal goal for development based on this?
Idea 7: What is authentic leadership? To what extent do you feel you and those around you show themselves as authentic leaders? Can you give examples from practice? Can you link to literature/theory? Can you set a personal development goal with respects to this?
Idea 8: What are some of the dilemmas of leadership? How do leader/managers negotiate the tension between employee engagement/well-being and performance measurement accountability? Can you give examples of how leaders in your own setting seek to create balance (or not) with regards to expectations of staff workload? How do you feel this could be improved based on what you have found in the literature so far on leadership and management? Can you do a bit of research and find something that may help? What would you do differently to improve staff well-being and workload management? Can you think of any aspects of personal development that could help you to implement this more effectively?
Idea 9: What reflective models work best for you in reflecting and developing your own leadership? Can you give an example? Can you relate how this has helped you and how in turn you might be able to coach and mentor others using this model?
Idea 10: What can you learn from school inspection reports about leadership that give you some goals for your own practice? Can you give an example? How has this changed your thinking? What would you seek to do differently and why based on what you have learned? How might you coach and mentor others with respects to your learning in order to help develop those around you?
Idea 11: What does the literature say about the importance of listening in leadership roles? Can you self-evaluate with examples from practice in your own setting? Can you identify what you do well and how you might seek to improve?
Idea 12: What leadership models/theories have had most impact on you so far? How and why? E.g. have you been inspired by transformational, distributed and servant leadership? Have you been depressed by transactional models and Great Man Theories? Why? Can you relate these to instances in your own experience and how you have seen them work out in practice? Which model/theory do you aspire to embodying in your own practice? How will you do this? What goals can you set in order to develop further?
Idea 13: Based on your research carried out in your own setting so far, what have you learned about leadership with regards to implementing what you consider good practice in reality? How do other people fit into this equation? Have you adjusted your own expectations, style and practice in view of what you have learned? How and why? How has this shaped your own leadership approach so far? Can you link to literature/theory?
Idea 14: Based on your educational leadership and management vision, what organisational culture would you seek to nurture in your own school setting? How and why? What models of organisational culture speak to you most strongly and why? If you were to set about trying to change the culture, how might you approach that? Can you give examples from practice and link to literature? Can you think of any personal development goals that may help you achieve such change more effectively in the long term?
Idea 15: What have you learned about research so far that would strengthen your leadership toolkit? Are there any research methods you would carry with you as a leader in the future to use as part of an overall leadership and management approach? Do you think research as a tool is relevant to leadership? Why? How? Can you link to practice with examples? Can you link to literature?
Idea 16: What is the role of emotional intelligence in leadership? Can you give examples from your own setting where you have seen ‘good’ emotional intelligence in practice? Can you self-assess your own emotional intelligence? Can you identify any room for improvement? What can you do to take action on this? Can you link to literature? Can you set a goal for development?
Idea 17: Can you identify a model of change management and say how as a leader (or aspiring leader) you would seek to use this in practice in your setting? What type of issues might you use it to address? Who would you enlist to support you in your setting and how? Can you reflect on actual examples where you have seen this being used either implicitly or explicitly? Can you evaluate the method? Do you have any personal goals as to how you might use it differently in future yourself? What personal development needs do you have to help you become a better manager of change? Can you link to literature?
Idea 18: Can you identify how coaching and mentoring is used in your setting, either formally or informally? What examples from your experience can you give either as a giver or receiver of coaching or mentoring? What models of coaching and mentoring have you tried out or would you like to try out? How? Why? Can you assess and evaluate these approaches? What do you learn about yourself from this? How can you improve? Can you link to literature?
Idea 19: How do you deal with and respond to conflict as a leader and manager in education? This pertains to staff teams largely. Does your response change if you are involved in the conflict personally? How? What is your approach managing conflict? Can you relate an example from practice? Can you identify any ways you might improve your own skills with respects to this? Can you set a goal? What? Can you link to theory/literature?
Idea 20: How have you developed as a leader so far? What do you do differently now that you didn’t do before? Can you give examples from practice? What are your next goals for leadership personal development? Can you link to theory/literature?
Mr Chips Style Staff 1-2-1s: Developing School Staff Through a Servant Leadership Approach
“More tea, Miss Geography?” Says the Head Teacher as she pours one more cup for herself. Miss Geography smiles warmly, nodding, as she reaches for another digestive biscuit. She loves the care exuded by the Head for all school staff, and she loves these end of week 1-2-1 opportunities.
This week, Miss Geography popped in to see the Head hoping for a bit of coaching and mentoring. It’s the beginning of January and the new year lays ahead of us just like a path of freshly fallen snow. Miss Geography wants to do more this year. She want to push the boundaries and reach out to develop her career, perhaps taking on greater managerial and leadership responsibilities herself. As yet, she has no experience beyond teaching her classes.
The Head Teacher sits back down into her office armchair by the bookcase. She dunks her digestive, has a nibble, then washes it down with a slug of tea. “Thanks for popping in for a chat, Miss Geography – you’ve come back raring to go this term, haven’t you?” The Head smiled and took another sip.
“Yes, I really feel I could do so much more this year at St Leader School. But I don’t know quite where to start or what I could do. I was wondering if you could perhaps make any suggestions, Head Teacher?”
“Well this is a very interesting time for you to have raised this, Miss Geography. I’d love to help you develop your skills in leadership and management. We always need staff who are able to take on more responsibility and to be able to reach out and help others, which of course is what leadership and management are all about.”
“What, may I ask, would you like to do? Do you have any burning passions or interests? What do you care about the most in terms of your students, your teaching practice, your subject discipline, the school, or any other wider interests and concerns?” The Head placed her tea cup on the table in front of her and sat waiting to hear Miss Geography’s reply with interest.
“I’m not sure really… those are really important questions. My “why” until now has just been that I love my students and I love Geography. I haven’t had a bigger purpose around that.”
“Ok, that’s a good start then. So why do you love your students and Geography? What’s your story behind this job? How did you get into it in the first place?” Quizzed the Head.
“To be honest I just loved Geography out of all the subjects I did at school. I got cracking A Level results in it. I jumped at the chance to do it at uni, but then I didn’t know what to do with it career wise after that so I kind of fell into teaching. I did a PGCE and now two years later I’m still loving it, but I’ve got so much more to give.”
“Yes, I can see that. It’s great you love your subject. Is there any particular aspect of Geography that really floats your boat more than anything else?”
Miss Geography paused for a moment. “Climatology is close to my heart. It’s obviously an important global agenda and we need the next generation to become leaders in doing the right thing for the earth, sustainability and the climate, rather than the wrong thing. We need them to feel passionate about it on a political level, a business level and of course a scientific and technical level.”
The Head nodded. “This sounds promising! Maybe we could think about how you might take this further in school? How might you do that? What could you do? Any ideas?”
Miss Geography has an immediate answer: “I’d love to get some guest speakers in and maybe kick off some in school projects with competitions – there could be different challenges with different prizes for different year groups!”
The Head smiled, “That sounds marvellous, Miss Geography. I’ll definitely support you taking the lead in that over this term. Perhaps we could give this effort a theme or a peg to hang it on? You know, a project or umbrella like name? Any thoughts?”
Miss Geography’s eyes lit up. “Yes! How about “The Climate Leadership Challenge”?
“Brilliant, brilliant,” beamed the Head. “What will you do next then?”
“I think I should do some planning to get some initial ideas down a bit more concretely, and then perhaps see if any other staff would like to come on board to help. I wonder if I could enlist the support of the debating team and the A Level politics teachers? It would be great to get students engaged initially through some stimulating whole school events and excitement.”
“Yes, absolutely,” agreed the Head, “And giving students the chance to develop political awareness is very important. I wonder if you could embed some activities or aspects to your project where you give students the chance to develop political participation and representation skills, knowledge and ambition? Especially the girls? Of course you know this is an important gender gap that needs addressing!”
Miss Geography nodded excitedly. “Yes, totally, they could also perhaps do some term long game based simulations and extended role plays where some students took the role of business board members and senior management – another important gender gap!”
“Right! It looks like you’ve got this under control! I’ll leave this with you to run with, Miss Geography. It’s in your hands now. Anything you need, just ask and I’ll see what I can do to help. Maybe you could lead a whole school assembly on it next week to launch it? What do you think? Is that too soon? We will have to act fast if we want to plan it in to this term to give you a whole school off timetable day as well. Get your thoughts down and let me know by Wednesday at the latest what you want to plan in and I’ll try my best to support. Ok?”
“Oh thank you! That’s amazing! I can’t wait to get this show on the road!” Miss Geography bounced out of the room with joy.
Jump to a year later. Miss Geography’s leadership on the climate project led to her having the confidence to apply for Geography HoD when that role became temporarily available due to the maternity leave of the previous HoD. She got it easily and is now doing the DfE NPQML, which she will complete imminently. This has helped her to focus on:
• strategy and improvement
• teaching and curriculum excellence
• leading with impact
• working in partnership
• managing resources and risks
• increasing capability
Miss Geography now focuses on the important leadership behaviours of:
• personal drive
She already had all those in bucket loads, but she is now turning up the volume of her own values based on these. She is developing a firm vision of her own leadership style and approach, founded on a strong set of guiding principles of ethical leadership.
And the Head Teacher? The Head Teacher continues to invite staff for end of week 1-2-1 Mr Chips style coaching sessions under the guise of cups of tea and digestive biscuits in her office. Servant Leadership style. Helping others to do more and be more, giving them what they need to develop and contribute to the school in ever increasingly enriching ways.
As seen on the #WomenEd blog: A #Nurture1718 blog post by @DrCWebbBAPhD
Five things from 2017 that can loosely be deemed successes
1. I learned how to read, write and speak / listen to basic Arabic at a language school in Jordan over the summer. It was intense, but I lived to tell the tale. Mabrouk to me!
2. I swam, sorry, floated in the Dead Sea on several occasions and visited many historical sights throughout Jordan, including: the ‘bedroom’ at Azraq Castle where Lawrence of Arabia stayed for a week in WW1; a variety of other castles besides; The ‘Blessed Tree’, which sits flourishing amidst arid desert land out towards the Syrian/Iraq border; the baptism site of Jesus at the River Jordan; Macchaerus Fortress ruins and its breathtakingly stunning surrounding scenery – the site where Herod imprisoned and decapitated John the Baptist; the site of ancient Pella, where Christians were told by Jesus to flee to for safety from Jerusalem in his prophesy about its fall; the ruins at Umm Qais, the possible site of ancient Gadara, where a demonically possessed herd of pigs ran off from into the Sea of Galilee just below (views of the Golan Heights just to the right); the Roman ruins of the city of Jerash, north of Amman; and of course sites in Amman where I stayed as well, including the amphitheatre (saw an opera there one night too), the Citadel with the remains of the giant statue of Hercules, and the old Amman railway station, which used to join the dots of the Middle East and run between Damascus in Syria and Medina in Saudi.
3. I got back into working in HE after a few years away: thoroughly loving teaching MA Education Leadership & Management with a great group of teachers based in the UAE. Some of them are SLT/MLT already and a few aspiring. This also led to the invitation to a deliver a CPD session with a Dubai international private school, which I thoroughly enjoyed with a great bunch of lovely MLT.
4. Started some fascinating research into global gender gap issues and female leadership and delivered a research seminar on the topic. I’m also due to present a paper on the same theme at a conference at the end of January.
5. I continued to live in permanently warm and sunny Dubai, moving out from school accommodation into my own rented apartment – a big step out here with many challenges, but well worth it for a time at least.
Things I’m hoping will come to pass in 2018
1. Continue to work in HE, with more focus in the education field
2. Get a few books and journal papers published
3. Increasingly align values and vision with workplace and practice
4. Continue to engage in personally meaningful, impactful and enjoyable CPD for my own development as well as others
5. I will aim to carry on improving my beginner level Arabic. And of course, World Peace.
If we didn’t have managers, where would we be? If we didn’t manage the operational side of our organizational practice, would anything get done on time to budget? You might argue that with the right staff and leadership team in place, then, yes. But is it as simple as that? Can you afford to be negligent and ignore the book keeping, stock control and resource side of day to day life in the workplace? The simple answer is obviously, no. Even the most transformational and visionary of distributed school leaders, expert in the finer arts of coaching and mentoring in place of lesson observations attached to performance appraisals, needs to keep an eye on the operational managerial as well as the touchy feely human stuff.
It’s a good job then that we have excellent resources available for our own CPD that can help plug those gaps if all we’ve done is teach RE for the past 5 years and now we decide we would like to make the leap to middle leadership and beyond: resources that allow us to learn independently and empower us forward.
The Chartered Management Institute not only provides membership with associated qualifications and training from level 3 to 7 in team management, supervision skills, coaching and mentoring and more, but it also gives you a kick start with ongoing CPD that you can be getting on with by yourself. One way the CMI has done this ready for your big leap forward in 2018 is by creating their CMI Management Book of the Year Shortlist. I’ve given this list some thought as to how their value in the context of school leadership and management might be recognized.
Firstly, under the heading of ‘practical manager’ they list ‘Time, Talent, Energy’ by Michael Mankins and Eric Garton as a book that will revolutionize the way you unleash the productive power of the people in your care – perhaps one to evaluate against the teacher workload problem then? Or might this just be a step or two on from time and motion measurement studies? I’ll leave to you read, think and share!
Next, they recommend Harvard Business School Professor Joseph Badaracco’s ‘Defining Moments’ – a book about managers facing situations that trigger conflicts with their personal values and what to do in such circumstances. Perhaps this will help those of you working in a no excuses school who suddenly realize they were meant for humanist Montessori settings after all. Or perhaps you never realized how trad you were until you looked around you in the staffroom and noticed the progs had you surrounded.
Third, ‘The Finance Book’ – an introduction for all managers needed to understand the language of finance: an essential piece of reading for all aspiring school heads who at some stage will have to decide how they are going to spend the school budget or perhaps approach the MAT board with a business case to make some radical changes. Also, if you want to start up your own Free School and are looking for sponsors, this might just help you clinch the deal!
Fourth, ‘Strategy Journeys’ – tells you how to put together a strategic plan. Again, useful for implanting change or starting up your own school.
Under the section of ‘Management Futures’ – for those school managerial jobs that don’t exist yet, is a selection of books to prepare to be one such manager of the future. One assumption seems to be that things are going to get increasingly techy, and increasingly changey. So the first book on this list is ‘Building Digital Culture’ – one to help you manage your data even better than you currently might be trying to, based on the idea that you will need that data to help you respond to regular change. SIMS be gone! Here you have some new technical sorcery to wave your lazer beam enhanced IWB clicker at.
The next book on their list under this category is ‘Fully Connected’ by Julia Hobsbawm. Perhaps this may be the missing link between data and social media overload we have all been looking for – a manager’s version of mindfulness and wellbeing for the practical school leader of the future who, again, doesn’t want his NQTs running off under workload avalanches or fear of data. Never mind the future – this is a now problem, surely?
‘Inclusive Leadership’ looks like one for the #BAMEed and #WomenEd book shelf for sure, but not to be dismissed by any in SLT, ever again methinks! The CMI say of this book: “The most successful organisations are those with the most diverse and engaged workforces. Studies show an 80 per cent improvement in business performance among those with high diversity levels. When people feel included and able to reach their full potential, they are more engaged, more productive and often more creative. Inclusive Leadership will help you drive culture change using organisational development principles”[i]. Just what the head teacher should have ordered perhaps?
Have you ever got jaded by the amount of policy updates you get through as a school leader? Or DfE/Ofsted induced changes you are made to feel you have to jump through the hoops for? Have your staff lost the will to live and find it hard to respond with enthusiasm and motivation when change is ushered in? Then maybe ‘Disruption Denial’ is a book for you and your team. They say at least recognizing you have a problem is a step towards solving it. So here you go!
Under the heading of ‘Commuter Reads’, the CMI draws our attention to another one for #WomenEd advocates: ‘The Paula Principle”. They explain (what WE know already!): “An expert on innovation and work argues that many highly capable women are not being recognised, and that this harms businesses, societies, and individuals alike. Whereas The Peter Principle, a four-million–copy bestseller from the 1960s, argued that most (male) workers will inevitably be promoted to one level beyond their competence, Tom Schuller shows how women today face the opposite scenario: their skills are being wasted.”[ii]
Another tome in futurology, ‘Megatech’ comes next on the list – one to help you consider, along with scientists, industry leaders and science fiction writers, what the world, or possibly your school and classroom will look like by 2050 and how you will manage it. Probably a step beyond dinner supervisors floating the school corridors on invisible hovercraft no doubt. Perhaps Matrix style lessons where children don’t even need to get out of bed and come to school? Learning can just be downloaded digitally via the ether?
Next, ever wondered how Steve Jobs, Marie Curie or Thomas Edison might have run your school if they were on SLT or made the leap to headship? Well, now’s your chance, ‘Think Like an Innovator’ will help you consider how!
Finally, in this category, comes one we all need on a daily basis for when we think to ourselves, “I could have said that better!” Perhaps you had to give a teacher some feedback on their obs and didn’t get quite the response you were looking for? Well, “The Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook” could be just for you! What everyone in a managerial position needs. In bucket loads!
Finally, finally, in the last category of all, come five books recommended for those new or aspiring managers among you already on the stairway to leadership and management heaven by way of some kind of CPD course (see more at http://yearbook.managers.org.uk/shortlist/shortlist-2018/new-manager/). Books recommended here include: ‘Potential’ (to help you assess your strengths – essential when carrying out a leadership needs analysis for an MA Education L&M course!); ‘Happy Working Relationships’ by Simon Jones – a guide to people management intertwined with current employment law – remind yourself on how to survive in the staffroom and not lose your job; the ‘Harvard Business Review’s Manager’s Handbook’ – an essential ‘Bible’ for all would-be managers covering everything from finance and strategy to recruitment and emotional intelligence – the very thing every English teacher stepping up to HoD needs under their Christmas tree this 25th; and, ‘Brilliant Coaching 3rd Edition’ – you all know how coaching and mentoring is the new appraisal post lesson obs, so don’t be shy.
And that’s all folks (well, not quite, I did leave a few out – see http://yearbook.managers.org.uk/shortlist/shortlist-2018/ for the full short list under category headings).
What books would you recommend for new or aspiring school leaders and managers?
Back in the dark days of dangerous and unethical research, we had Dr Frankenstein doing bad things with his Monster… oh, wait. That wasn’t real. Sorry. However, in Christopher Edge’s (2015) book, “19th Century Fiction and Non-Fiction”, he reminds us of the very real undercurrent of what was definitely going on in the world of science at the time:
“In the 19th Century, the invention of electrical batteries allowed scientists to experiment with the power of electricity. The Italian scientist, Giovanni Aldini, performed a series of experiments in public where he applied electrical currents to the corpses of convicted criminals.”
Edge then goes on to provide an extract from reports of Aldini’s experiments that were carried out in 1803:
“A very ample series of experiments were made by Professor Aldini which show the eminent and superior power of galvanism beyond any other stimulant in nature. In the months of January and February last, he had the courage to apply it at Bologna to the bodies of various criminals who had suffered death at that place, and by means of the pile he excited the remaining vital forces in a most astonishing manner. This stimulus produced the most horrible contortions and grimaces by the motions of the muscles of the head and face; and an hour and a quarter after death, the arm of one of the bodies was elevated eight inches from the table on which it was supported, and this even when a considerable weight was placed in the hand.”
The report continues:
“George Forster was hung at 8am on 18th January 1803 at Newgate Prison, for the drowning of his wife and youngest child in the Paddington Canal. After hanging for an hour in sub-zero temperatures, Aldini procured the body and began his galvanic experiments.”
“On the first application of the process to the face, the jaws of the deceased criminal began to quiver, and the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and one eye was actually opened. In the subsequent part of the process the right hand was raised and clenched, and the legs and thighs were set in motion. Mr Pass, the beadle of the Surgeons’ Company, who was officially present during this experiment, was so alarmed that he died of fright soon after his return home.”
“The action even of those muscles furthest distant from the points of contact with the arc was so much increased as almost to give an appearance of re-animation vitality might, perhaps, have been restored, if many circumstances had not rendered it impossible.”
“Galvanism was communicated by means of three troughs combined together, each of which contained forty plates of zinc, and as many of copper. On the first application of the arcs the jaw began to quiver, the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and the left eye actually opened.”
“”The first of these decapitated criminals being conveyed to the apartment provided for my experiments, in the neighbourhood of the place of execution, the head was first subjected to the Galvanic action. For this purpose I had constructed a pile consisting of a hundred pieces of silver and zinc. Having moistened the inside of the ears with salt water, I formed an arc with two metallic wires, which, proceeding from the two ears, were applied, one to the summit and the other to the bottom of the pile. When this communication was established, I observed strong contractions in the muscles of the face, which were contorted in so irregular a manner that they exhibited the appearance of the most horrid grimaces. The action of the eye-lids was exceedingly striking, though less sensible in the human head than in that of an ox.””
Quick note to current would-be researchers: no, you cannot take home the heads of dead prisoners to your apartment and experiment on them. For one thing it’s just not hygienic. But of course so many other laws and ethical guidelines exist today that would rule out not only that, but most of what is described above to have taken place in the name of scientific research.
But, ok, you may argue that these research subjects were dead people, and criminals, with seemingly no rights perhaps. Obviously back then this remained unchallenged and even rights to a decent burial were apparently waivered due to the nature of the abhorrent crimes committed by the deceased. No one was there to fight for the rights of the decapitated one. Law was still evolving at the time, and deceased criminals were usually given over freely to science:
“Before the Anatomy Act of 1832, the only legal supply of corpses for anatomical purposes in the UK were those condemned to death and dissection by the courts. Those who were sentenced to dissection by the courts were often guilty of comparatively harsher crimes. Such sentences did not provide enough subjects for the medical schools and private anatomical schools (which did not require a licence before 1832). During the 18th century hundreds had been executed for trivial crimes, but by the 19th century only about 55 people were being sentenced to capital punishment each year. With the expansion of the medical schools, however, as many as 500 cadavers were needed annually” – read more on bodysnatching and grave robbing at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_snatching .
In case you were wondering, “The Anatomy Act 1832 (2 & 3 Will. IV c.75) is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom that gave freer licence to doctors, teachers of anatomy and bona fide medical students to dissect donated bodies. It was enacted in response to public revulsion at the illegal trade in corpses” – again, read more about that at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatomy_Act_1832 . And, note the use of the word ‘donated’. After 1832 it was only donated dead people that scientists were legally allowed to experiment on. Well, in the UK anyway.
But that’s just dead people. What about the living? Research ethics have also evolved over the last century. Some head-shaking cases that helped us to determine our moral compass on these matters included:
- The Little Albert Experiment (1920): see more at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hBfnXACsOI
- Stanley Milgram’s Obedience Study (1960s): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W147ybOdgpE
- Philip Zimbardo’s (1970s) Stanford Prison Experiment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8vVjDkyH3Q
By turns these experiments caused different kinds of outcries and resulted in a firming up of what is nowadays considered good ethical practice for research. Learning can essentially be reduced to the following guidelines:
- Obtain informed consent from research participants – trickier with minors and definitely to be thoroughly gained with parents as well
- Obtain permission and informed consent also from any relevant authorities or organisations, and those in positions of managerial responsibility
- Obtain ethical approval from any university ethics committees required
- Do not deceive any of them about the aims of your research
- Fully explain the purpose of your research, what you are doing, how and why
- Give all concerned the right to withdraw at any time
- Fully assure participants of confidentiality and anonymity
- Do not harm your research participants emotionally, psychologically, physically or otherwise
- Offer to debrief participants after the research, to discuss what happened in depth if required
- Offer to stay in touch and share contact details and results
On reflection, I don’t think Dr Frankenstein ever asked his Monster if he wanted to be brought to life. And I don’t think we can say there was no harm done there, on quite a few levels. So, yes, by today’s standards Dr Frankenstein’s research was definitely unethical. However, Mary Shelley did preserve the Monster’s identity and therefore provided anonymity by not giving him a name…
Then again, confidentiality was totally blown!
PS: You can read lots more interesting accounts and reports of 19th century shenanigans in Christopher Edge’s book if you get hold of a copy. See e.g. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rollercoasters-19th-Century-Non-Fiction-Christopher-Edge/dp/0198357400 for more details.
When we say STEAM, we are of course talking modern day Leonardo Da Vinci, Hypatia and Marie Curie type education, seeking out, developing and nurturing the talent of scientifically creative genius to find solutions to today’s problems:
“STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. The end results are students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process. These are the innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st century!” [ii]
But why, specifically, is STEAM needed? Basically, argue leading advisers, for our economic survival: to “meet the needs of a 21st century economy”[iii] A recent article published by Forbes explained the shift: “Work based skills are changing as more and more jobs are displaced by digital technologies […]with self-driving vehicles on the way, how many taxi, trucking, express delivery–and even aviation jobs–will go the way of the telephone switchboard operator? If history is a reliable guide, the technologies that are eliminating one set of jobs will create others: jobs that require twenty-first century—mainly digital—skills. The explosion in industrial robotics, for example, is eliminating thousands of assembly line jobs but it is creating a demand for people who can design, manufacture, program and maintain those machines. The questions are – what will the net impact on jobs be and how well are our schools preparing young people for those new, higher skilled jobs as we head toward the fourth industrial revolution?”[iv]
The UK it seems, may be taking the lead in confronting these issues head on right now. The Forbes article author, Nicholas Wyman, went on to put the UK on a pedestal, focused on Lord Baker’s current work: “According to Edge Foundation Chairman, Lord Kenneth Baker, “The U.K.’s future workforce will need technical expertise in areas such as design and computing, plus skills which robots cannot replace – flexibility, empathy, creativity and enterprise.” The Edge Foundation has released an 8 point plan of action in a manifesto called ‘The Digital Revolution’, elaborating how such a vision could be reached (click the link below to see the 8 point plan in the Forbes piece). Lord Baker was praised for his vision: ““Knowledge is as necessary as ever, but it is not enough,” says Lord Baker, “It has to be connected with the real world through practical applications ranging from engineering and IT to the performing, creative and culinary arts. We need 21st education for a 21st century economy.””[v]
So Lord Baker puts knowledge in its place – it has one, but it doesn’t have primacy. Imagine then the embodiment of the product of the proposed needed education. My interpretation is that the successful 4 A star A Level student of tomorrow should be creatively and emotionally intelligent, with technical expertise and skill, entrepreneurial and switched on to real world problems: a sentient innovation machine, holding hands with the rest of the world. I implicitly link here to the concept of the 4th Industrial Revolution put forth by Schwab[vi].
My skeptical side doesn’t yet allow me to fully embrace this concept. It doesn’t sound fully convincing. It feels a bit too science fiction, abstracted from the gothic industrial realities of the inequality ridden world we currently inhabit. However, Schwab explains: “The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”[vii]
So if this Fourth Industrial Revolution comes to fruition, we should be all be connected through our brains, bodies, gardens, vegetable patches, fridges, cars, computers and mobile phones as part of an Avatar movie style ecosystem. I’m not keen on that vision to be honest, are you? My cynical side imagines a dystopian interpretation, where the inequalities inherited by the system prevail, and a Borg like infrastructure takes advantage of talent for its own benefit – the rich and powerful still get more rich and powerful, and those at the bottom of the inequality heap just get used and abused for their ideas. Cogs in the machine – albeit more sophisticated cogs and a more sophisticated machine.
Schwab goes on to describe how this world of interconnectedness is taking shape: “Already, artificial intelligence is all around us, from self-driving cars and drones to virtual assistants and software that translate or invest. Impressive progress has been made in AI in recent years, driven by exponential increases in computing power and by the availability of vast amounts of data, from software used to discover new drugs to algorithms used to predict our cultural interests. Digital fabrication technologies, meanwhile, are interacting with the biological world on a daily basis. Engineers, designers, and architects are combining computational design, additive manufacturing, materials engineering, and synthetic biology to pioneer a symbiosis between microorganisms, our bodies, the products we consume, and even the buildings we inhabit.”
The Luddite in me wants to say stop. But can we? Is it too late? Is everything already too connected? Can we unplug and maintain cerebral independence, or is being part of the matrix the only way we will eventually be able to breathe? Or, is our only advantage to not just work hard with the creative side of the arts, but to fight back with the strength of the philosophical?
When the industrial revolution took place that we all know and love from our school history lessons, romantic poets, artists and philosophers fought back by placing an emphasis on the uncontrollable forces of nature – showing how minute and powerless humankind really is, and reminding us of the magnificent beauty of the thing that the industrial revolution was destroying. At the same time philosophers such as Karl Marx and Durkheim stepped us and gave us insights into the machinations of the workings of power and people behind this monumental takeover. In the same way, I’d argue that liberal arts, humanistic education is vital now to providing intellectual education and freedom of thought, as one way of still maintaining independence from the evolving Borg. In fact it might be the only way.
They might be able to matrix our bodies, but can they take our souls and minds? I conclude with a song: Manic Street Preachers, “If you tolerate this, then your children will be next”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cX8szNPgrEs
Say yes to STEM and STEAM – but keep the intellectual edge. Empower our children with intellectualism. Insist on a curriculum with liberal arts, philosophy and independent humanism as well.
Thoughts on educational leadership and management this week
First: “humility”. I used to be quite put off the subject domain of leadership as a taught subject when I was in my 20s. My disdain came from seeing largely what I perceived to be ego-driven individuals, beating their chests and proving their leadership potential by being the loudest voice in the room, or being able to down the most pints in an hour or having the funniest jokes to tell and being the life and soul of the party, or the cheekiest chappy at the bar. Although I can see why a lot of those kinds of behaviors command attention, and in some circles do gain popularity votes (especially after a sporting event perhaps), it leaves me wincing. It also leaves a lot of people and their voices excluded too.
My personal preference was always for leaders of the Ghandi variety – or Nelson Mandela, Kofi Anan, or Antonio Gutiérrez, for example. I also admired Mo Mowlam. And Tony Benn. People with principle, values and personal integrity. They all had something to say. None of them empty kettles. Unafraid to firmly fight their corner for what they believed in, but not necessarily by charismatic means. Their message shone through for the long term, grounded in much more than flimsy, popularist, vote winning behaviors.
Fittingly, the topic of “If Humble People Make the Best Leaders, Why Do We Fall for Charismatic Narcissists?” is debated by the Harvard Business Review at http://alturl.com/fn55t
However, on the other hand, false modesty of the Uriah Heep type (“humble, humble, very, very humble” – picture it being said while bowing slightly and accompanied by the wringing of hands), is not my cup of tea either.
So where can the balance be struck? How about by just being honest? Say it as it is. Speak with a sense of audience: deep theory for Einstein audiences, and practical application for practitioners perhaps. A judicious mix of both when appropriate and relevant? Give what’s needed as and when it’s required. If it’s relevant to mention that you are an Olympic gold medalist, don’t hold back! If that fact is worthy of being mentioned for some reason, do so.
For those who are struggling, the ‘Leadership Freak’ gives 12 tips for humility in practice this week at: https://leadershipfreak.blog/2017/12/03/secret-sauce-sunday-one-secret-from-five-world-class-leaders/
On another note, emotional intelligence. All would-be school leaders will benefit from developing theirs. Not for the dark side of evil manipulation, but in order to just treat people well as the human beings they are, with a view to all getting along and playing nicely, and effectively. For emo int beginners, 8 apps are recommended at http://www.thetechedvocate.org/8-must-emotional-intelligence-apps-tools/ – these are mainly aimed at younger learners but are good for all beginners!
In addition to any MA level education leadership and management course you might be on, the UK’s DfE runs the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) – find out more at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-professional-qualification-for-headship-npqh – this will help make your journey to SLT and headship increasingly robust.
Finally, possibly one of the best tweets of the week, by John Tomsett, whose school has just achieved outstanding status by Ofsted (perhaps to be coupled with a light hearted musical note at http://alturl.com/aqtuj – just to keep Ofsted and regulatory bodies in perspective!):