When training to be a teacher 10 years ago, I was told emphatically that I should not tell students that I’m gay because it would give them “more ammunition”. Comments like this grossly underestimate our young people who, in my experience, are more open-minded and accepting than their parents and many of my former colleagues. Comments like this force teachers and school leaders to let down some of our most vulnerable students by not being a visible role model they can identify with. I believe teachers should lead by example and that’s why, as part of LGBT History Month in February 2017, I finally came out to over 1,000 students in assembly.
We are all different; whatever you are thinking will not be the same as others. In an academic environment where teachers work as a team, not as individuals, there needs to be consistent mindfulness and consideration to others. We will all have those bad days. Your day or mood does not belong to anybody else. We are here to serve young people. Professionalism is imperative in setting high and positive standards. In this article, I will share three examples of how this can be developed.
You don’t deserve a medal for implementing new technology in school, but it can sure feel like you do at times. Buying into contracts with third-party technology suppliers is daunting; I’ve had to do it in my past, and there’s lots of pressure to make the right decision. As the edtech market grows more saturated, more and more firms will claim to offer the world. But with many of these companies not having been around for long, how can you be sure the technology you chose is right for your school?
I’ve always seen teaching as fun, inspirational and aspirational. Don’t get me wrong, there have been doubts and difficulties at times in my career, but even on the tough days I can honestly say that I’ve never had a dull moment. The level of creativity needed in teaching and leading a school community is driven by an insatiable passion for the people you serve. You want the best for them, and this absolute belief has stayed with me throughout my career.
I have been interested in action research for a number of years. Having working in social services for the first part of my career, we were trained to within an inch of our lives. Much of the training was practical, and focused on the concept of practice development. This evidence-informed practice enabled us to look at the skills and strategies we needed to meet the needs of our service users. Entering teaching in the nineties and noughties I found that this wasn’t really the case. Training was very prescriptive and centralised from government (National Strategies/APP) or ad hoc, and wasn’t concerned with meeting the needs of everyone in every classroom.
Christmas is a great opportunity to take the time to be thankful for those who are part of our learning community, and to channel our festive spirit and cheer into contributing to a positive environment full of thought and goodwill. At our school, all of our members of staff (teaching and non-teaching) are invited to take part in our ‘Advent Angel’ initiative. After signing up, volunteers are secretly and randomly given the name of another member of staff who is also taking part. Our only caveat is that we aim to make sure that it is not someone with the same department or office, so colleagues across the school have the opportunity to learn something new about someone, which builds into our community ethos.
In over 40 years in education, I have been led by others, and I have led others. I have studied leadership, and I have experienced both good and poor leadership. I have worked for leaders, and worked with leaders. As a leader I have made mistakes and learnt from them, and I have learnt from the mistakes made by other leaders.