Reflections upon reflections 1/2

It is eerie that this week’s MLTChat is asking the question ‘How do you balance leadership and classroom responsibilities as a Middle Level Leader?’ as it is a question that is resonating with me quite significantly at the moment.  As a perfectionist and a person with the highest expectations of myself, trying to balance everything perfectly is seemingly impossible.


I love teaching and as someone who has been consistently graded as outstanding, thought I was pretty good at it (I am a good teacher) but now as I find myself the head of a faculty which needs to make improvement, the outstanding teacher in me seems to be slipping away and this, for me, has been heart breaking.

Yesterday I posted about the endless tick list that we are required to demonstrate in each lesson in order for all of our students to make significant progress and for us to get that good/outstanding grade. I spoke of how constricting this feels and how it only seems we are good/outstanding if we demonstrate all those things within a short 50 minute lesson. I spoke of the frustration I feel at being so guided that there seems very little freedom to plan in a way that I want to, to ensure that not only do my students make progress but that they also enjoy their learning as well. And then, with some wise words from my line manager, perhaps I have started to realise my frustration does not lie with what is required of us but more that I no longer have the time to dedicate to my teaching alone. I have other leadership things that I need to focus on.

And so this brings me back to square one. That despite teaching 21/30 lessons, my teaching has now become secondary because I need to lead. I can’t dedicate the time to the long list of Ofsted requirements for an outstanding lesson because I don’t have it. I am going to have to settle for good which is going to have to be good enough – for now. I am going to have to find it within myself to be accepting of this cap and not give myself such a hard time until the time when I have managed to stabilise my faculty and dedicate more time to my own classroom practice. One person once said to me that as Head of faculty, it was not up to her to be outstanding, it was up to her to make the rest of her team outstanding and this, it appears, seems to be true.


3 thoughts on “Reflections upon reflections 1/2

  1. I do sympathise, and know what a dilemma this is, but I do think it can settle down over time and with experience. It’s all about balance, and sometimes consistently good has to be good enough. As you say, a Head of Department/Faculty has the central task of trying to get the best out of ALL the individual members of the team (and reaches more students that way) rather than the focus just being the quality of your own lessons/the progress of your own students.

    I do remember as a HoD, though, that there was a time when I didn’t get the balance right. I had a long list of jobs to do at the weekend, and planning my lessons was something I tended to do towards the end of the day, when I was perhaps getting tired, and sometimes the planning/thinking was rushed. One week we had a departmental inspection by an individual HMI (this was in pre-Ofsted days). Because I knew my lessons were being observed, I did the lesson planning FIRST, and spent more time on it.

    I realised at the end of the week that the lessons had been considerably more successful than they normally were (though usually they were fine). From that point onwards I always planned my own lessons first at the weekend while I was still fresh, and spent the time I needed on them, before I moved on to other leadership tasks.

    Just in case this is of any use at all!

    Good luck.

  2. FWIW, you teach 21 lessons, you are overwhelmingly paid to teach. Your leadership duties are poorly paid overtime and you will have more impact on your youngsters with your lessons than with your management work, until you are SLT of course. I understand your dilemma and eventually gave up the HOF stuff but then I never was outstanding!

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