Session 48 – Thursday 2nd June 2011

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Session Title:

What could senior leaders do to make your practice better? (via @theheadsoffice)

Session Summary:

This was one of the toughest ukedchat sessions to moderate, as it was a catalyst for participants to share their frustrations about leadership teams within schools. This was evident across the primary and secondary sectors, but once again similarities were seen.

Many frustrations were shared, such as not allowing teachers the opportunity to be creative; Senior Leaders focusing too much on targets and results; expecting a uniformity across the school; a lack of respect, and a certain arrogance.

It was necessary to call everyone back together within the discussion at times. One question asked was whether it is right to have non-teaching staff (admins) part of the Senior Leadership or not. There was a mixed response to this, as some felt that non-teaching staff would not have an appreciation of what happens in the classroom, whereas others felt it would bring a fresh pair of eyes to a senior leadership team that would focus on the business side of a school. Likewise, inviting non-Senior Leader teachers to attend meetings during a half term would make the whole process more transparent.

The pressure that educators are under from Senior Leaders was also highlighted, especially with new initiatives being taken on whole-heartedly by the team, with the expectation that staff embrace such changes within their practice, which adds further pressure on individuals and teams. If Senior Leaders keep a touch on what happens in the classroom, it was felt that this would be better understood before further new initiatives were raced through.

Therefore, Senior Leaders should:
– Always support staff in trying something new, and backing this up financially whenever possible. There is usually a way.
– Always treat staff as professionals, give teachers the total respect they deserve and you will be respected for it.
– Be supportive, innovative & approachable.
– Take away my pressures and allow creativity to flourish and support it.
– Proactive not reactive leadership
– Treat me as a professional & not insist on moronic paperwork.
– Place learning at the heart of everything
– Must use new technology and not avoid it, “get with it”
– Provide support structure for EVERY aspect of teaching, planning, marking, pastoral role etc and Work Life Balance.
– Lead the staff team by good example, they should listen, care, respect and be forward thinking.
– Make sure all team members are valued by inclusion in the school vision and recognised for their efforts and achievements.

It was acknowledged that each setting is different, so the above list will clearly not be relevant to all involved in the running of schools, but it is well worth re-visiting and reminding leaders of these qualities every now and then. Good luck with that. Please also refer to the tweet of the week.

Eye-Catching Tweets from the Session:

@matthewbritton #ukedchat Always support staff in trying something new, and backing this up financially whenever possible. There is usually a way.
@Catriona_O #ukedchat the 1st role of leaders is to develop the staff they manage. G Donaldson – #TSF(teaching Scotland’s Future review). Through PRD?
@matthewbritton #ukedchat Always treat staff as professionals, give teachers the total respect they deserve and you will be respected for it.
@Tutors4gcse SMT should encourage and develop innovative practice – too many sessions have become mundane so no wonder learners are disengaged #ukedchat
@bellaale Learning & teaching still the central focus: SMT need to ensure CPD is effective #ukedchat
@tas_sasso #ukedchat Staff should be given the opportunity to implement new ideas, not be given a new initiative to try every week. Do one thing well!
@Creativeedu Senior Leaders need to keep their hand in in the classroom if they’re to be in a position to guide and advise #UKEdChat
@MrG_ICT #ukedchat Recognise that they should be helping us to make our practice better, and not jumping to each new initiative.
@Creativeedu SLT can make a huge difference by Implementing a clear, practical and consistent behaviour policy #UKEdChat
@Jane010879 #Ukedchat This discussion will just end up being an impossible list though. SMT are people too (I think) – maybe they just need to listen?
@bellaale Too many managers are great talkers, not great listeners #ukedchat
@JamiePortman SMT need to develop a culture where development does not depend/centre around SMT. Best teachers develop themselves & help others #ukedchat
@respectmycrest @colport supportive, innovative approachable #ukedchat
@TheHeadsOffice Saddens me to hear so many of you unhappy with the leadership in your schs! #ukedchat
@chris_1974 #ukedchat our biggest innovations and moves forward have come from Middle Leaders implementing SLT agenda. SLT have to allow this to happen.
@Catriona_O #ukedchat a good leader/ht/dht will move beyond empire-building & see sharing( practice) w/ a neighbouring school as his/her responsibility
@colport How about non-teaching staff (admin) being a part of the SMT/SLT? #ukedchat
@Timshel82 @colport there are a couple of these in my school and I don’t think it works well #ukedchat
@bellaale A great manager – someone who can relieve pressure on staff, allow time for development > better L & T #ukedchat
@jackieschneider #ukedchat – school leadership = top down, prescriptive, & not very equal opps #ukedchat
@tas_sasso IMO the best leaders are the ones who take away my pressures and allow creativity to flourish and support it. #ukedchat
@SynechismLtd Senior Leaders need to empower people, give them space, make sure they’re happy and be evangelists for the vision. Not micromanage #ukedchat
@PetermSkelton @Dunfordjames some of best CPD sessions I have been to are ones I was reluctant about.Good to have ideas pushed onto you sometimes #ukedchat
@colport Not seen many answers to the question tonight “What could senior leaders do to make your practice better?” #ukedchat
@jackieschneider @colport – trust my professional judgement #ukedchat
@ICTmagic @craftyslh I hate not being in the loop and finding things out at the last minute. I do like to be organised. #ukedchat
@john_at_muuua @colport I lost track of the topic. My answer is simple…. trust their teachers #ukedchat
@Catriona_O @colport #ukedchat – support you in professional learning through CPD!
@NickiA10 @colport pastoral support, taking pressure off, being a critical friend, #ukedchat
@bellaale proactive not reactive leadership #ukedchat
@DanielHugill A good SLT will listen to their staff. Really listen and be willing to change their mind. They are surrounded by professionals. #ukedchat
@jackieschneider @colport – treat me as a professional & not insist on moronic paperwork #ukedchat
@Jane010879 @colport Creating an environment where sharing resources and ideas is the norm as opposed to something that is part of appraisals. #ukedchat
@SynechismLtd Great to see #ukedchat so busy tonight, although we wonder how many have taken up these issues with their SLT?
@geraldhaigh1 Empower, support, communicate, yes. But do not back away from a clear instruction. “Just do that, OK?” Vagueness causes confusion.#ukedchat
@DanielHugill Sometime I think SLT get distracted from the important things too. They deal with a lot of nonsense too! #ukedchat
@ICTmagic @colport Don’t look over my shoulder. Trust me. I’m actually quite good at what I do & I have papers that prove it! #ukedchat
@bellaale place learning at the heart of everything #ukedchat
@bilehs our HT lets us all teach in our preferred way. No whole-school approach, but eclectic mix of creative stuff. It works well #ukedchat
@primarypete_ 1/2 Mike Hughes says schools are red or blue. Red=top down. ‘Do this because of this’. Blue=more bottom up. ‘get people on board.. #ukedchat
@Creativeedu common themes: really listen, care, continue learning, support, guide, trust and share the vision #UKEdChat
@primarypete_ 2/2 by getting them to realise that what you want them to do as a leader is what they want to’. Which is your school red or blue? #ukedchat
@eduKatescom @colport by failing to have clear vision. If I can see the road map I’ll find my own way forward – but no map = disaster #ukedchat
@craftyslh SMT must use new technology and not avoid it, “get with it” #ukedchat
@MattFothergill Most important for SMT to provide support structure for EVERY aspect of teaching, planning, marking, pastoral role etc and WLB #ukedchat
@Creativeedu SLT should lead the staff team by good example, they should listen, care, respect and be forward thinking. #UKEdChat
@hairlikeeddy #ukedchat Making sure all team members are valued by inclusion in the school vision and recognised for their efforts and achievements.

Tweet of the Week:

This one sneaked in after the discussion, but summed it all up for me:
@ePaceonline: Best schools nuture staff as well as pupils and provide a safe, secure environment for all to flourish. #ukedchat

About you Host:

@colport AGAIN!!! Sorry, will try to get more people on board!

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