After 24 years as a teacher you learn a few things about the job. Within this 24 years I have had time as a head of department (four as Head of French, and the last ten as a head of a large, vibrant modern languages department) and this has really enabled me to learn about myself. Just as with teaching, as a head of department I am still learning but have collected a few top tips. So here are my top nine things I’ve learnt about this job.
At trendence we are committed to supporting students reach their career ambitions. We know that the world of careers guidance can be a confusing one, and so we have developed a survey to help demystify the careers aspirations of your students! Below we have detailed what the survey involves, and why you should take part.
Recent research from the Future Leaders Trust, Teach First and Teaching Leaders warns of a serious shortfall in the number of heads and senior leaders required over the next decade, as pupil numbers rise and the present incumbents retire or move on. Many of those currently in headship attest to the rewards and satisfactions of the role, despite its accepted demands and pressures. But how can we encourage those not currently in whole-school leadership roles to take the plunge – to embrace risk and uncertainty and step up to the challenge? How can we encourage, motivate and inspire them to ask: ‘If not me, then who?’, and how can prepare them and then support them throughout their time in the role?
In the first part of this series, I described how through the 11+ system I was sent to a Secondary Modern school. The glass ceiling that it represented comes into play again as I discover my options in the 4th year (Y10). “Think like a learner” is a good maxim for those involved in teaching or guiding learners. Empathy could go a long way to reducing the trauma of school.
“Effective leadership coaching can happen on the dance floor of conversation.” -
John G. Agno
There are many definitions of leadership. Some highlight the importance of highly-developed professional skills and knowledge; others dwell on the importance of personal skills. A number of researchers state that leadership begins with the character of leaders, their emotional intelligence, self-awareness, personal values and beliefs. As Will Ryan (2003) pointed out: “If You Scratch a Good Head…You Find a Moral Purpose.” Other researchers rightly state that without a clear operational strategy or a strong strategic plan of how to communicate and achieve goals and create vision, success is not possible.
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.
People everywhere are fast recognising that the ‘Values Revolution’ has truly arrived, and is re-shaping many aspects of our lives as well as our families, schools, businesses and other public and private organisations around us. Savvy teachers will want to ensure they are preparing their young citizens well, and providing quality guidance that creates the foundations for their success now and in the future.
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.