I write as we head towards the business end of yet another academic year, it is somewhat scary when the realisation hits that I am also coming to end of my first two years as an international educator. With this also comes the clarity that the students whom I have been responsible for teaching over the last cycle are now also coming to the end of their courses, and the inevitable terminal exams.
If you are looking for an activity to do with your students during National Careers Week, then we have just the thing for you! The trendence school / college leaver survey asks students about their future career aspirations, whether they are looking to go onto university or start an apprenticeship / school leaver programme.
Do you feel powerful?
Because the modern, effective school middle leader is powerful, an incredibly powerful member of the school community. Not powerful like Darth Vader is powerful. I’m not suggesting you wave your hand to magically make minions do your evil bidding. I’m talking about being the powerful agent for change that the role of middle leader has become. In your hands, you have the power to design a creative, rich curriculum; the power to motivate and inspire a team of teachers and support staff; the power to drive advances in pedagogy; the power to make decisions that will change children’s lives.
This blog is an overview of a presentation that I delivered at a Lead Meet event in June 2016. The end of my first senior leadership post has provided the best opportunity to reflect upon the most relevant things that I have learnt. In this role, it became apparent that the skills and attributes that helped me reach this particular point were not necessarily the ones that would enhance my skills / influence as a leader. The seven points below are a summary of my reflections during this period of time and an outline of things I wish that I had known at the start.
The main priority of a school is to ensure that pupils are given the best possible chance of achieving their potential, both academically and personally. In the ever-changing world of education, it is imperative that teachers and other staff are as up-to-date as they can possibly be in their subject knowledge, teaching practices, and assessment requirements. It also important not to forget the professional development needs of the wider school community, including your governors.
I have just finished my 22nd year of teaching. By rights, as a teacher, I should be pretty stale now. Most classes should groan when they realise that they will have me as a teacher. They might imagine that I am one of those teachers who goes back to a folder of worksheets, digs out the most appropriate one for the class, wipes off the dust and makes enough copies of it for my students to let them complete it and so on. After all these years my students might think that I should know how to teach everything and that teaching grammar topics is something I have mastered and can do off the top of my head. Surely, they imagine, I have mastered the job and do it the same old way as I have always done - the job is easy for me and perhaps my students might think that I am a little boring.
This article is based on a presentation given at Teaching and learning Leeds (#TLLeeds) held at GSAL (The Grammar School at Leeds) on Saturday 2nd July 2016. Collaboration was the central theme of the conference.
“Great schools rarely go it alone. The most successful schools are not isolated and separate from their local community and other schools but actively encourage and embrace interaction with others. This approach has led to complementary benefits.” (Buck, 2016)
The morning that I turned to Mum and Dad as a 13 year old and said, “I am going to swim at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games,” was the morning I made the most sure, concise, and driven decision of my life. My entire life. In that moment, as a freshly-minted teen, I knew what my purpose was going to be for the next several year, the confidence I had in this decision was overwhelming, and the determination I had to work hard for it inspiring. Yes, my teen self inspires me now, because that confidence and determination is special, and most people struggle to cultivate it, not least teenagers.