Tea with the Team

I left our staff meeting tonight and I knew I’d just left the kind of meeting every school should have. Wherever you are, you’ll always have a little ‘them and us’ banter (power to the people and all that) but essentially, our senior leadership team (SLT), are pretty darn good.

The reason they’re good is that they listen; they make the occasional mistakes here and there, they’d say the same, but they listen and reflect and everything evolves. They evolve as a leadership team because they’re not afraid to see themselves as learners too, just like everyone else in our school. And before you pass my SLT off as all too touchy feely (that might say more about you than them) try being a member of staff here who is trying to pull a fast one and it won’t be long before they’re calling you in for a ‘conversation’.  I’ve seen it: I’ve watched a few red faced people leave the HT’s office over the years, tripping up on that proverbial tail between their legs as they go. 

So, we’re a harmonious team, with a little bite where necessary, but this isn’t true for every school. Lately, I’ve heard some horror stories about other schools that make me want to run up to the first member of our SLT and hug them.Yet I still can’t rest comfortably knowing it’s dandy here and like Colditz over there. The stories I hear disturb me. It disturbs me that there are individuals out there who have ascended to senior leadership positions while being bereft of any real understanding of how human beings work and how successful teams go foward. 

In one school, I heard that after hours, when all the teaching staff have gone home, the SLT surreptiously enter their classrooms and go through books, planning folders (and goodness knows what else). They give the classes a thorough insepction. All the teaching staff know they do this too. The manangement are no doubt trying to catch teaching staff out,  after all they’re in charge and that’s their job isn’t it? They’re there to tighten things up and watch out for slackers, right?  Really? Is that leadership or an antiquated form of supervision more akin to the role of a prefect (but wouldn’t prefects be more collegiate?) And so the school exists under a climate of mistrust, stress and high staff turnvover. Are we surprised? Why would anyone want to teach in a place where you feel like you’ve been burgled every morning you get into class? More imporantly, why in the world you actively create such a situation when you could just as easily talk to the staff about recording expectations? Maybe you could even get their input and give them a feeling of owership too. Perhaps they are trustworthy afterall! You never know you might even get to a point where the staff are proud of their books and are only too pleased to show you them. 

So, it is with this thought about leadership that I turn in tonight:  be positve  and you’ll get postive results everytime. Be negative, look only for the negative, and that’s all you’ll ever find. 

Oh, and remember… humiltiy and integrity are powerful. They takes guts; they take confidence, but everyone will reap the rewards no end. 

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