So the first week has come and gone. 5 days which have been intense, eye-opening but thoroughly enjoyable.
It has been great getting to know as many of the 240 pupils in our primary school as possible. They have all been friendly, welcoming and very keen to talk to me. At times almost too keen – as I do occasionally have to get some jobs done. Perhaps I shouldn’t have told them to give me the first letter of their first name every time they saw me, in the hope that I will learn all their names by the end of the summer term.
The staff have also been very welcoming. Keen for me to come into their rooms, to share the work the children are doing and obviously with a new HT keen to laugh at my jokes (which are not funny – so I glean from that, that they are genuinely kind people or perhaps they just want to make a good first impression). I am also pleased that I have already had a number of valuable conversations with individual staff to share my ideas and listen to theirs. Conversations that I hope will have real impact over the coming months.
The parents have also been very positive – smiling and talking to me on the playground before and after school. Some of them have also been kind enough to pass on positive comments about me that they have heard from either their children or other parents.
So all in all a pretty good week yes?
Well yes and no.
The biggest frustration for me (already, and yes I knew it comes with the job) is that I have not found sufficient time (or as least as much as I wanted) to go into all the classes and get a real feel for the teaching and learning going on. I see this as my key function as a HT and I don’t want every week to feel that I have been distracted too far from it. So maybe week 2 will be better.
A quote I read last term sums up this need for single-minded focus on teaching & learning:
“High performing headteachers focus more on instructional leadership and developing teachers. They see their biggest challenges as improving teaching and the curriculum, and they believe that their ability to coach others and support their development is the most important skill of a good school leader…they work the same hours as other headteachers, but spend more time working with the people in their school.”
(Barber, Whelan & Clark 2010)
I have also been reflecting over Christmas and throughout this week on my guiding principles for my style of school leadership. Although this vision has been developing over a number of years, it was really clarified during a fantastic course I was part of last year. Future Change Makers run by the ETC Teaching Schools Alliance in Hampshire. We had many high quality county and national speakers over a 6 day, 10 month course and had experienced HTs to mentor and network with us. It was invaluable.
So to conclude my first blog of the year. My first bog as an Acting Headteacher. My first bog – full stop! I end with principles that I am ending each day reflecting on and using to evaluate my impact.
Empowering through trust
Authentic, analytical and accountable
Develop Teaching & Learning / People / Organisation
Enthusiastic, evaluative & emotionally intelligent
Real vision, resilient & respect
Support & challenge
High expectations of self & others
Positive & professional