Saturday, 29 October 2011

Leadership Lessons from Henry V Part Two: Vision

Part Two: Vision
I recently attended a superb training session on Inspirational Leadership from Ben at Contender Charlie. The messages on leadership were based on Shakespeare's Henry V.

You can find handouts from the course here.

Over a series of posts I'm going to share some of my learning from the course.

Vision is the core of leadership. It's about spotting the talent in other people and helping them to achieve their potential. Vision must always deal with life's qualities, not with its quantities.

When building your vision, don't get vision and strategic targets mixed up. A vision doesn't necessarily change. Everyone should know it, and senior management should live it. It's the big picture. It's why we do what we do.

Ben explained that one of the best vision statements he had come across was in a hotel, where the care shown for its guests was exquisite. The vision for the hotel was, "We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen." It's simple and clear. It is not measurable by conventional standards. One of the most famous visions was shared in Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream speech. It wasn't measureable.

A vision should be entirely aspirational and is absolutely what we stand for. Everyone involved in the organisation should buy into it. They should connect with the vision. It should unite people.

"Whatever you can do
Or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius,
Power and Magic in it."

Friday, 28 October 2011

The Six Tasks of Headship

I recently read 'How Successful Head Teachers Survive and Thrive' by Professor Tim Brighouse. It's available here. It's a really interesting read about the key tasks of being a headteacher and ways to manage the job.

The six tasks of headship:

  • Create energy
  • Build capacity
  • Meet and minimise crisis
  • Secure and enhance the environment
  • Seek and chart improvement
  • Extend the vision of what's possible
The five time expenditures:
  • They sit on the wall not the fence - be visible
  • They are 'skalds' not 'scolds' - tell positive stories and remind people of great deeds and future triumphs
  • They teach, learn and assess for most of their time - continue to be involved in teaching and the day-to-day routines and workings of the school
  • They spend their evenings, weekends and holidays... working... socialising and being member of a family - manage time well within the school day so that time spent working outside school is enjoyable
  • They spend two hours a week in acts of unexpected kindness - showing the personal touch

Good advice for when I'm a headteacher

I gathered these pieces of good advice at a recent Senior Leaders Conference. The ideas will help me when I become a headteacher.

Managing People
Maintain professional relationships - it's better to have respect than to be a friend
Value your staff - value people; small things make a difference
Be fair
Be aware if someone feels undervalued
Pre-empt problems
Give people time for things that are import to them, e.g. to go to their child's school assembly
Buy the tea and coffee for the staff (it makes a big difference)
Value CPD and INSET - use professional venues
Go out of your way to give praise
Cards and flowers used appropriately mean a lot.

Time management
Prioritise your management time
Deal with things as they arise
Prioritise things you want to do
Pupils and parents always come first; then staff; then everything else
Have the ability to say 'no' and mean it
Find a way to switch off - this gives you time with your family which makes you a better teacher

Working with parents
Always get back to parents within 12 hours

Being a head teacher
You don't always get it right - particularly in the first year of headship (when no one likes you!)
Be yourself

Monday, 24 October 2011

Schools Fantasy football

Something that has gripped the pupils and staff in our school this year is the Schools Fantasy Football. This year it's free for anyone to take part. We paid £25 to set ourselves up as a school so you can enter a special PIN code so that you can become part of our school and compete against everyone else.

As well as just being lots of fun, I'm hoping it will provide real data for use in Maths, and provide a real stimulus for writing. I'm confident it will get everyone talking!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Leadership Lessons from Henry V Part One: Being a Leader

Part One: Being a Leader
I recently attended a superb training session on Inspirational Leadership from Ben at Contender Charlie. The messages on leadership were based on Shakespeare's Henry V.
You can find handouts from the course here.

Over a series of posts I'm going to share some of my learning from the course.

Some messages for being a leader:
  • Own the leadership role - don't apologise for it. Every teacher or teaching assistant is a leader. 
  • When you walk into a school you are effectively on stage - performing for pupils, staff and parents. Use your opportunity to shine.
  • Always hold true to your sense of purpose. It's why you do what you do. Protect it - do what you believe in.
  • Control your body language.

Good leadership 1: Steven Gerrard

After attending a course about leadership it got me thinking about people whose leadership I admire. Over a series of posts I will write about people who I think show good leadership. (Just to be clear though, I don't necessarily agree with their behaviour in their private lives.) First up is one of my favourite footballers.

Steven Gerrard
For me Stevie G is the most inspirational of all football captains in recent history. As well as being the complete footballer he has many qualities that I look for in a leader.

Stevie never gives up. He has literally changed the course of matches, often in the most desperate of situations. 

Knows the big picture
He recognises the big picture of what it means to play for Liverpool. He appreciates the history of the club and he understands the desire of the fans. 

Energy and motivation
He brings an energy to the team which can be the catalyst to motivate others. He doesn't give in to challenges and he never gives up. 

Gerrard pushes the player to perform to their full potential at all times and accepts no excuses. He leads by example with the effort he applies.

He will accept blame for the team after a poor performance. He never seems to get too big for his boots and become complacent.


Friday, 14 October 2011

NCSL Blog of the Week

My blog has been chosen as Blog Of The Week on the National College for School Leadership's Facebook page. This was an unexpected honour - especially to be chosen to be recommended along with the other superb blogs on their Facebook page.

They also commented on the amount I've written about Duncan Bannatyne - I hadn't realised that I'd mentioned his book that much!!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Customer Service

I never thought I'd agree with anything Alistair Campbell says. But during the Blackberry outage over the last few days he tweeted this about customer service:

"Some free advice. Explain while you fix. Apologise when you have. Recompense after. Handling so far woeful."

If you've ever made a mistake, this is good advice. As a teacher, it's a great way to smooth things over with any parents you've accidentally upset. It's hard to recompense, but you can go out of your way to be nice.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Monthly Review: September 2011

Back to school with a bang! September was unbelievably hectic. I'm trying so hard to devote more time at home to my family, and being so busy in school, it's been hard to blog or tweet or anything. My target for October must be to write more! Here are a couple of the school-related things that have kept me busy:

Moving to Year Four
It's been a nice start to the year. I've definitely found pitching the level of work easier moving up a year than when I moved to Year Three last year. I've enjoyed the start of the year! The volume of marking, and updating planning is what's kept me busy on a day-to-day basis.

My classroom displays have been somewhat neglected whilst I worked on various others around school. I've made displays for attendance, our school University, house points and sports teams. I believe that creating a stimulating environment is crucial to the success of a school, and displaying the right things makes all the difference.

After school clubs
I've restarted the Film Club for the new year, relaunched the school newspaper club and kicked off the new season for the football club.

Catching up
I've caught up with lots of paperwork this month and my office is looking a bit tidier now!