This morning at WomenEdEM I listened to stories of leadership journeys, of lessons learnt, of what is means to lead with authenticity, of imposter syndrome being something you just need to accept and of successes as people prepare for new roles and responsibilities in the future.
I always find WomenEd events leave me invigorated and feeling like I can take on the world. They are part of what sparked me to engage more with Twitter and use blogging as a way to work through my thoughts. They inspired me to speak at conferences and write articles for publication. They have challenged me to admit that I would like to be a Headteacher one day but also shown it’s ok to play the long game – as @KLMorgan_2 said today we need to stop thinking we always need to go forwards and the sideways and backwards steps along the way are valuable too.
So with all that in mind, leaving #BeTheChange today has left me reflecting on what I’ve learnt at each of the schools I have worked in and how I’ll be taking that ‘uniqueness’ of my experience and values and purpose into a new school and new role in September.
School 1: 2006-2008
The Principal spent a lot of time talking in staff meetings about where we get our validation from – should we expect praise and external validation from someone else for doing our jobs or meeting the standard expectations or should praise and external validation be for the extraordinary? This has definitely shaped my thinking in terms of how I praise staff and students – praise extra effort or an ongoing commitment not an individual act which is considered as just part of ‘normal behaviour’. It also means I tend to have a ‘no news is good news’ approach to work and make sure people I line manage know this.
School 2: 2006-2012
This was my ‘growing up’ school – I know I became so much better as a teacher and I started my leadership journey at this school. People took an interest in me and my career and I had plenty of opportunities to shadow others in their roles, including a secondment to the Leadership Team. I was surrounded by people who sought to enable others and it means I really try to get others along to conferences, get others to shadow what I do and pass on tweets/articles/links I think people might find useful.
School 3: 2012-2015
This school was my steepest learning curve as I joined the Senior Team. This school was about hierarchal structures, standardized teaching practices and relentless accountability – almost to the point where people could come and go and no one noticed. On the one hand it’s shaped me to be focused on making sure the policies and procedures are right before implementing any change so it’s likely to work regardless of the individual implementing it (if they follow them!) but on the other hand it made me acutely aware that this needs balancing with a more human element of not just treating people like cogs in a machine. I know I’m not happy working in a school where the human connection is missing.
School 4: 2016-2019
As I prepare to leave my current school and role, I know my experience has shaped my perceptions and values around the importance of building relationships. We talk a lot about the relationship piggy bank and making deposits regularly through positive interactions with staff, students and parents/carers so that when the time comes to make a withdrawal (to sanction a student or speak to a member of staff about something that wasn’t quite right) you already have a working relationship in place. Linked to this @621carly mentioned this morning about relationships being for a reason, a season or a lifetime and this really resonated as the learning I will be taking with me from working in this school as I reflect on the investments I make into relationship piggy banks – is this relationship for a reason, a season or a lifetime? – to make sure I am investing in the right places and in the right ways.
School 5: 2019 and beyond
I’m looking forward to the next stage in my journey and I know I’ll continue to be moulded and shaped by what comes next…