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on March 6, 2013

So I’m doing the Middle Leader Development Programme, and for it, we have to do a ‘leadership challenge’.  

I know what I want to do:  I want to impact on the culture within both my department and the school as a whole, so that there is an emphasis on striving to improve / being the best teacher you can be / developing T&L continuously.  

The difficulty is that I am trying to articulate how this is leadership, rather than management.  It feels a little like I just have my own little job list, and I’m doing lots of organising of things, but to me, that’s management, not leadership.   When I stopped to really think about it though, I realised that all leadership involves a little managment.  You have to get things up and running, although the trick is in sharing the ownership of what’s happening with your team.   It’s like teaching the students.  It’s all very well showing them an algorithm for some maths skill, but until you can convince them to try it for themselves, it’s not really any use.  If you can convince them they NEED to be able to do it, as it will benefit them, and make them WANT to do it, so they get that benefit, then you’re really cooking… 😉   All of that however, involves a bit of organisation / facilitating on your part as teacher.

My challenge here is to get the team to buy into WHY we are doing these things.  What’s the benefit for them?  What’s the benefit for our students?  What’s the benefit for us as a department. Once that has happened, I’ll know the culture will begin changing.  

It’s too easy to be a little island as a teacher, and do your own thing, finding your own resources, having occasional conversations about things in the staffroom, but not as a matter of course.    We’re all teaching the same stuff – why not work together more!!  You attend regular training during QTS and NQT on how to be better at your job, while at the same time you are massively overwhelmed with the sheer amount of work you have to do.  Why wouldn’t you continue this training into your career, as things get more manageable, and less new and scary, and you start to find you have more time to approach T&L in new, interesting ways?!?

The way I plan to do all this:  I started with organising a staff TeachMeet INSET.  Staff had to come along and share something, however small and simple, with their group.  The groups were around 20 people, to make it less intimidating to share, and I had to do a fair bit of selling it to people!   Even the most vehemently opposed to standing up in front of their colleagues were convinced enough by the end to share something.   I deliberately tried to create a more relaxed atmosphere so that I could remove some of the barriers people had put up, as I know that some find it very daunting to speak in front of their peers.    It seems odd as a teacher, but it’s very different to being in front of a class! 

Staff were very positive about the INSET, and I hope to set up another one soon, calendar allowing!

The next step has been to establish a weekly ‘TeachEat’ within the department.  Once a week, we organise to meet up and eat lunch together, with a previously advertised topic for discussion.  We have covered: How we deal with challenging classes, resources for teaching linear graphs, revision ideas and materials for Y11 and how to develop our use of homework.  It’s important to me that the team are involved in making these decisions with me, and having a say in things that affect their workday.

The topic for this week is: How to make our Teachmeet Maths AWESOME.   

The idea is to involve the team in this challenge, and get them to own it with me.  The TeachMeet is only the second to happen in Peterborough (the first was a week or so ago, and was a general, non-subject based one), and is the first maths-specific one that I have heard of.   It will be something that puts our department on the map in terms of leading T&L in the area, and will hopefully have a positive impact on both our own T&L, and also on our recruitment!    

At least one local maths dept is attending in lieu of a department meeting, and thus far, we have 16 signups, with 2 weeks to go.  I have also liaised with our Secondary Maths Co-ordinator, the legend that is Lynne Webb, and between us, we have managed to get several prizes for the raffle.  These are simple, but include things like a signed copy of an (education) book, some textbooks, some fancy calculators, etc, so should be a nice treat for the winners!  

The TeachMeet is a more informal way of continuing what has in previous years been done as a twilight session, with usually one representative per school, sharing ideas.  It also opens it up to more people, as you don’t have to present, you can just be an ‘enthusiastic lurker’.  

I’m personally planning to present on one or more of the following…  SOLO, Twitter as CPD (#battt), the resources on   

I’m hoping that some of my team will also present on the evening, as I know they have some great ideas they could share.  

The department will all be involved in the smooth running of the evening, as we are a TEAM, and that is just how we roll….  😉



3 responses to “Leadership….?

  1. We got a total of more than 40 people, from 17 different schools around the area on the night. The whole thing went surprisingly smoothly, and people went away buzzing. Two other HoD’s were raving about it as they left, and by the sounds of it, people have gone away and evangelised about TeachMeets to their depts. Another local school is keen to organise the next one!

  2. Lynne Webb says:

    Almost 60 I would say Emily with a few latecomers not signing in. ‘the whole thing went surprisingly smoothly ‘is a bit of an understatement I would call it a resounding success very well done! Thanks very much. The only time there has been a larger meeting and sharing of maths learning and teaching ideas in Peterborough, it was compulsory for most participants.

    On leadership MLDP should have given you a chance to consider this I believe:

    Leadership is defining the path. ‘doing the right things’
    Management is following the path. ‘doing things right’
    Administration is keeping the path tidy. ‘doing things’

    If as a good leader you define the path that doesn’t exclude you from a bit of following and tidying of the path it just isn’t your core purpose.

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