Skip to main content

Twitter isn't the best form of CPD 1: the traits of school leaders

Before I start, I looked up the word 'provoke' today:

Much is written about the power of social media, but I have to say that it must be taken with a pinch of salt.  How do I guarantee the efficacy of information gained online?  How do I know that the advice is authentic and that the volunteer is speaking from experience? After all, as far as you know I could be using social media to reinvent myself. Perhaps I'm trying to represent myself as someone who may know something about something?  

This is the first in a few stories that will try to explore the power of teachers talking to teachers, quite often within your own institution.  So, on Monday I went off with the other SLT members of the authority and listened to some wise people.  It's always great listening to people who have actually done something.  It's even better to be able to question them.  Even better still was the ability to speak to peers and colleagues who understand the context and challenges of the local area intimately.  This is bespoke CPD tailored to fit.  

I like leadership, and have enjoyed some modest success.  There are many lists that give the characteristics of school leaders, but the one given by United Learning CEO Jon Coles really appealed to me.  Here it is, with my own embellishments.
  • Unwarranted optimism
In this political roller coaster of change we have to be the constant.  Although I disagree with Jon that leaders can be totally dismissing of Oftsed, it is our job to be brave and to do the right thing that is needed in our own contexts.  We need to plan and hold firm. I aspire to be this type to leader and I hope that I won't buckle.  After all, I don't go to work to please Ofsted, I go to work to make a difference to the lives of young people.  We can make that difference and we can do it our way.  We have to be like those advertising companies that get their adverts pulled by the regulator. We need to test and probe and, ultimately know we can win even when there is absolutely no evidence or hope that we win.  
  • Endless intelectual curiosity
If we aren't nudging and picking away at what already exists, asking the really tough questions of ourselves, our system and of our staff and students.  Jon used the phrase 'steal with pride' and I guess that's what good leaders do. We measure ourselves agains the best we can find; find out what they are doing and then do it ourselves.  We learn from kindred spirits and will never be happy.  We are learners.
  • Taking crisis as the norm
Schools are amazing.  They are organic and dynamic and joyful and, although there are set cultural norms, no one really knows what's coming next.  This is brilliant and one of the reasons I am a teacher and will remain a teacher. Leaders must carry on as if it's all part of the plan, even when the heart is going a billion beats per minute. Last minute assemblies, high staff illness, a high staff turnover, new directives from government.
  • A complete absence of paranoia
Leaders are above the parapet. Not just our heads but, like the photo above, full body out and in the firing line.  We are exposed and  vulnerable. That's our job. Our job is for people to come at us and blame us.  The glory belongs to others. To the classroom teacher who has started in January and is battling to instil routines. To borrow Jon's words, they are all out to get us but acting like us is going to do nobody any favours. We're leaders and we signed up to this.

So, what characteristics would you give to school leaders?  This CPD wasn't from Twitter, or a blog. It was a spark of inspiration given by an expert, pulled apart with peers and crunched around with those that really matter: those that I work with, day in, day out.


Popular posts from this blog

#GAConf22: A paradigm shift for anti-racist, decolonised teaching and inclusion

 " You can't start a fire,  You can't start a fire without a spark" Bruce Springsteen.  Well, it's been a fair while since I felt the motivation or the need to blog. Whilst not a story for now, over the past five years I've danced along the knife edge and, often, the call of the abyss has been both tempting and compelling. Certainly, my failing in both my personal and professional life have been numerous. But. This is not about me, but the people that have (re)ignited the spark to the fire in my soul. I realise that this is from the perspective of a privileged, white, middle class male view. I even have a beard. I am scared of getting it wrong on this topic. Teach me if I am wrong, it is from the position of a learner. I was looking forward to the GA Conference this year, the first face to face since 2019. I have to say that Alan , as president, and the Geographical Association's team did a fantastic job at being inclusive. The hybrid format allowed peopl

What makes a learning experience profound? Personal reflections and possible implications for classroom practice.

I have recently begun a Leadership Pathways journey.  As part of the first core day, we were asked to reflect on a profound learning experience. This got me thinking about how many profound learning experiences I have both been involved in, and how many I have been able to give to others.  Our group came up with a huge long list, but these are my five. Emotional Connected Demanding Reflective Collaborative As always, these are personal thoughts and quite mixed up.  I put them here so that I can look back on them (plus they’d get lost inside my world-cup-free brain) 1. Emotional I can’t think of a time where deep learning hasn’t engaged my emotions.  From being awe inspired to that tingle feeling when a student gets a light bulb moment.  From this-is-the-happiest-day-ever, to I-think-I’m-about-to die.  How often do we engage the emotions of those we teach?  Here, I would argue that having a safe learning environment is not always conducive to profound

Trust and support our school leaders, the role of the governing body in the Covid times

One of the roles that I love is being the Chair of a Governing Body.  The aim of this post is to share what we are doing, as a Board, during these difficult time.  I will refrain from commenting on the role of the Government, DfE and local authority as I intend for this to be both a positive and useful post. What is clear is that governing bodies have a crucial part to play. I am grateful both to the brilliant Clerk and the National Governance Association whose Covid advice pages are fantastic. Firstly; from the outset, the brilliant leadership team that I work with have my unwavering and public support. Regardless. As this is a fast evolving crisis, often with pages of advice, guideline and directives to decipher and digest on a daily basis. As such, the role of governing bodies is twofold: 1.  to prioritise the providing of support to the Headteacher and all colleagues in the school, and 2. to allow them to get on with operational matters and decision making. The role of