Every September schools welcome new teachers onto their staff. If the leaders are asked to define what kind of teacher they will help shape this person to be, it is imperative that:
- they have thought this ‘vision’ for a XXXXX Primary school teacher through
- it is a vision consistently repeated by all staff
- there is a clear plan to help and support teachers in working towards this vision: the induction process, classroom coaching, leadership examples.
It often happens that Heads, or Senior Leaders shake their head in despair when they talk about a teacher who hasn’t understood the ‘XXXX Primary way’. But was it ever made explicit, do people actually know what behaviours or qualities define it? Are you doing anything to ensure you achieve it, or is it all left to osmosis and chance?
When Ian Wright (ex Arsenal & England striker) was asked to reflect on someone who had inspired and supported him, he was absolutely certain who he would choose… Mr Pigden. He had been Ian’s teacher at Primary school and the first person who really believed in him. In his video, Ian identified some principles that could help to shape what all teachers should aspire to:
- belief – that Ian could read, would be able to control his anger and could be a success
- time – he coached the football team after school, gave Ian extra lessons in his lunch hour, spent time with him to talk through issues when he was upset
- opportunity – gave him the opportunity to be a monitor, created a football team for him to participate in
- passion – never gave up on the team, even if they were losing every week. Talked about football, lived football, breathed football!
- world class – he wanted his pupil to be world class, pass the ball, control your anger, read your books! High expectation for all (see @teacherhead’s post on this)
What are the values, qualities, principles that you want the teachers in your school to display? How often are they discussed? When do leaders single out teachers for praise and specifically highlight how what they have done has met one of these descriptors? How soon after joining your school will the key values be shared with the new recruits… in the advert, at interview, on the first day, or is it just left to chance?
Could the above values be used for how you try to develop leaders in your school?
- do your interactions and feedback instil in them that you have belief they will be a great leader… or are they terrified to make a mistake
- how much time do middle leaders get to meet with SLT, discuss issues, share progress, celebrate successes and build relationships
- what opportunities do SLT provide – in a metronomic way – to read, write and talk about leadership. Are their chances for leaders to develop their public speaking skills, is there an expectation about when they will lead/co-lead a staff meeting
- do your behaviours as a leader show how passionate you are about your vocation – are you found bouncing down the corridors, smiling, greeting people by name, making eye contact, talking about positive experiences you have had today
- what are you doing to be world class – social media links, professional reading, videoing your own teaching… how are you broadening your horizons and applying the lessons to your context
This links back to Bill Walsh’s excellent advice… have a plan, execute the plan! If as leaders we have given this sufficient thought, perhaps there would be even more Mr Pigden’s!