Nurture #14 – Reflections on the first week

1) Three and a half new staff and a complete faculty.  They all turned up.  They all looked pretty happy leaving yesterday.  RESULT!  I can’t even begin to describe what a difference having a full team makes to my life.  I am responsible for a faculty that needs significant improvement in terms of results and standards and it has been incredibly, incredibly hard and, at times, quite lonely over the past few months.  Instead of driving forward change, I have had to deal with more and more problems arising – firefighting – and it has not enabled me to make the progress I have wanted to make, quickly enough.  Now, this week – to some extent – i feel invincible.  I have re-found the belief in myself, i no longer feel alone and i am, once again, feeling more confident about the difference that ‘we’ can make.  It is an incredible joy.

2) I couldn’t do this without the support of my headteacher who is absolutely fantastic.  Last term was very up and down but when he knew I was down, he would make that extra effort to come and have a chat with me to bolster my spirits.  This week he came to check I was ok on several occasions after school – to support, to reassure, to offer advice.  He talks to me quietly and calmly with no sense of panic but with an absolute determination for what he wants from me and the rest of the staff.  He says thank you.  I feel really lucky to have his support.

3) Dr Anthony Seldon shook my hand this week and told me how fantastic my presentation was (it wasn’t that brilliant to be honest), told me how highly valued and appreciated I was and also thanked me for my hard work.  That was all i needed.

4) And then the kids returned and my year 11s were superb during their Controlled Assessment.  The standard and improvement in their work is ridiculous!  I am so unbelievably proud of how far they have come and how well they are doing.  

5) I delegated.  Yes, you heard right.  I delegated and not once either.  I created line leads within the department so KS co-ordinators take responsibility for individuals, I asked KS co-ordinators to contribute the DEF, I delegated positive praise letters to be sent out, I delegated the initial booking of a trip, I delegated medium term planning…A HUGE step for me.

6) This meant I had more time for myself – I managed to get the positive praise letters done, I managed to get the year 11 display done – I managed to do jobs that had been on my to do lists for weeks. 

8) I led a meeting.  Not unusual.  But my tone was different.  I have wanted to be a good leader.  A leader that is liked by everyone.  I thought about this a lot over the Christmas break when I left feeling unsatisfied with the standards of the faculty.  I realised a good leader isn’t necessarily a popular one.   A good leader is someone who leads, who takes control and who has to present the hard line sometimes and that is what I did.  Sometimes it makes you unpopular.  I could tell people weren’t happy, they didn’t like not hearing the answers they wanted or the softer approach they had been used to but I was uncompromising and set the tone for the rest of the year.  

HOWEVER, I hope I set that tone with an understanding of the need to support the school’s drive and put the needs of the students first.  It has been emotionally challenging – my KS co-ordinators are the ones potentially who are going to have to soften blows, they are the ones staff will go to potentially when they are upset.  To some degree, I can no longer be everyone’s friend – I have to be the boss.

9) Because of my hard line and my steps towards delegation, i feel a sense of empowerment from my KS co-ordinators.  They have started the term with such positivity and enthusiasm which has already contributed to a significantly different feel within the faculty.  

10) Texting parents has been a sheer joy this week.  On some occasions it has been to communicate positive information but on other occasions it has been to inform them that homework hasn’t been done.  Irrespective of this, the power of the text is ridiculous.  As a result of this I have got 98% of my homework and my students are going to be better for that.

11) I am teaching KS3 once again and boy have I missed it.  I love KS3 – the fun you can have, the creativity – it is a sheer joy.  This week I have taught The Highwayman – a quick two lesson Af2/3 focus.  But getting to engage with great texts, producing focused work and seeing staggering progress – LOVE it.

12) Brilliant children.  I am not going to say too much on this but we have some truly wonderful, caring and compassionate children.  They have come and spoken with me this week and voiced their opinions and sometimes I look at them and it makes me swell with pride at how truly amazing some of them are – in fact, the majority of them are.  Their care for others is extraordinary.  I absolutely admire their resilience.

13)  A fantastic staff body – from the head to the SLT team (especially Kristian Still who is another saviour of mine) to the teachers to the support staff.  We are community and so supportive of one another.  It is a vibrant staffroom where everyone comes together to have a chat and a giggle.    I make sure that I always take lunch and it is a lovely time.

14) Drive – I can’t wait to see where we go this year.

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