Following a 30 year career in education, during which she taught English and assumed different leadership roles across six schools, Jill finished as a full-time head in 2010. Since then, she has divided her time between studying for a Professional Doctorate in Education, working as an educational consultant and serving as an Associate within the International Division of the National College for Teaching and Leadership. She lives in the Midlands.
Leading a school is a privilege, and a tremendous opportunity to have a positive influence – to lead in the way you think it should be done, to focus on the priorities you believe to be the right ones and to create an environment where it is possible for those you lead to be their best selves. You have the chance to make a difference to the lives of students, and of staff, on a scale unlike any other you have ever known. There’s huge reward and satisfaction in this, and, in my experience, joy.
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)
So, if you’re a Middle Leader, what motivated you to move to that role? It may be that after spending some time as a classroom teacher you felt ready for a freshchallenge, and wanted the opportunity to extend your sphere of influence into other classrooms in your subject or pastoral area. It may be that the chance to work with and through other people, to support and challenge, encourage and inspire other staff, in addition to trying to get the best from students, constituted an appealing new area of responsibility. I’ve previously written about why you might want to move to a Middle Leadership role and how you might start to prepare yourself.
Think about what brought you into teaching in the first place. The opportunity to continue to work with / learn more about your specialist subject, and to communicate their enthusiasm for this subject to others, may be high up on the list of reasons. For those in the primary sector, the chance to teach a range of subjects, and to spend time in the company of younger children, may feature strongly. We may want to build relationships, to make a difference to people’s lives – something which doesn’t really feature in a number of professions. We may see schools as places where we will continue to learn and to stretch ourselves; there will be variety and the opportunity for a wide range of experiences within and beyond the classroom.
Managing your workload is something that, in my experience, most teachers and school leaders struggle with. There’s certainly no magic bullet. Some would even say that it’s impossible to get the balance between your professional and personal lives right, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying. It may be a journey rather than a destination.