Having just completed by second year as Headteacher and approach the completion of my second full academic year cycle, I recognise that have learnt more than I had expected I would. That reflection is tinged with a little embarrassment and acceptance that I had not fully appreciate the breadth of a Headteachers duties and possibly over-estimated of my leadership know-how. For reference, the short-fall came, not in the strategic or the operational aspects of the role but the staffing and pastoral duties of headship, those shared in confidence. That said, is an important reflection, coupled with some very positive personal and professional “growth.”
During that two year period, our school has gone from strength to strength, punctuated with highlights, formally endorsed by external inspection, external and internal review and improving parent, staff and student survey responses for four consecutive terms. It is a real privilege to have responsibility for a school, it’s staff and students (equal first), and I am thoroughly enjoying my work and our work as a leadership team (for the most part). I am particularly proud of the staff that have achieved personal goals and promotions.
Writing it down
Writing helps me understand what I am thinking about.
I write to help me understand and process what I am thinking, to keep a open record and promote commitment to my own professional development and lastly to reflect back on the relative successes of my decisions. So here is what I propose for 2017-18 (now from April). Leading within a large group of school requires a degree a flexibility and faith in decisions made from the group. It has required me to think conscientiously through organisational change and my leadership role as part of it.
I will adopt the changes faithfully and adapt them intelligently within the given framework where this best serves our school, staff and students.
Leadership theory and practice continues to fascinate me, none more so than Complexity or Complex Adaptive Theory. In it’s most simple form, Complexity Theory is a way of thinking about and analysing all things by recognising complexity, patterns and interrelationships rather than focusing on cause and effect. For that, I hold Kev Bartle (@kevbartle) wholeheartedly accountable following his recommendation of Birth Chaordic Age – Dee Hock.
Lead yourself, lead your superiors, lead your peers, employ good people, and free them to do the same. All else is trivia. – Dee Hock
This interest has led to an invitation to ‘Encountering Complexity in School Leadership – with Canons Park TSA and University of Hertfordshire Business School. A programme that explored the complexity of human interaction within an education. Travelling up to Harrrow to meet with the other delegates exploring the use of narrative approaches to personal development has become a real highlight and privilege. No certification, no passing grade however, a markedly different outlook on leadership, more coaching, greater purposeful observation and a growing interest in how to develop trust in schools.
Continuing into 2017 is an interest in a “Cultures of Thinking,” to complement our pedagogy, which is linked to a growing prevalence of oracy in education writing currently. This will be my leadership project for at least the next 8-12 months as we move to rapidly adopt our organisations educational philosophy and pedagogy. This is, though, dependent on the organisations direction. I continue to explore “what makes you say that?” as a teacher response and exploring the thinking that is going on behind the learning.
In the summer of 2017 David Rogers joined our school to accelerate our adoption of our teaching and learning plan, on another note, together we set in motion the plans for a modest “teachers for teachers.” David is a hyper-connected leader with a passion for “telling teachers stories,” and before we knew it we were hosting 230 teachers for the inaugural Southern Rocks. By all accounts it was a resounding success that actually got itself featured in the national press.
As the years moves to a close, I have invested heavily on the pursuit of culture leadership capital or trust.