Teaching is perhaps one of those areas most under appreciated by the population. Not because they dismiss the influence teachers and school have on children – no, in fact we’re more aware of this today than in previous decades. Infact, the under-appreciation comes from the fact that few appreciate how HARD teaching proper is.
I say teaching ‘properly’, because there are clearly two sets of teachers. On one side, you have the dismissive teachers who use the same lesson plan year in, year out, which may simply list questions to refer to a complete from within a textbook after the students read a section. This isn’t quite the teaching that parents dream that their children are receiving in school.
The second, laudable set of teachers in schools are those that are passionate about their jobs and really express the desire to engage with their class and through interactivity and equal involvement of all class members, wish to increase the standard of teaching in not just their class but the whole school.
These teachers often become heads of department often within just 5-7 years, and by the age of 30 (if they began teaching straight of university, as is often the case today), are looking to take a leadership role within the school.
A leadership role within a school is slightly different to that within a corporate entity, or even a charity. A school has a completely different ethos about it. A totally different set of values and objectives. Sure, central themes such as being ‘hard working’ will be at their core – but the fact that teaching children is so drastically different from simply selling widgets, means the whole leadership culture has to be significantly different.
A business leader being brought into a school to ‘run it like a business’ as is being promoted in the UK at the moment, will need to experience a shift in their paradigm – the way they see leadership and management, in order to apply their experience within a school setting. Leadership degrees and leadership courses designed for school teachers and senior management on their way to headship such as the ‘Leadership pathways’ course run in the UK, may in some way help – but only through joining a school and interacting with the students face to face will you build up your own-way of delivering excellent leadership in a school.
Some Tips For Leadership In Degrees, Schools, Courses or Colleges.
> Know your age group well. In a high school, it works best to understand to the motive and general ethos of each individual year group, as each will be reaching a different stage in their teenage lives. Final years will feel aspirational, like the masters of the schools and therefore playing to this ego will help. First years will be nervous and uncertain, and therefore you can win the support of this group through being supportive, constructive and affirmational. Students in the middle years will generally feel more competitive and therefore playing to this will enable you to win their respect.
> Show the appreciation for the teachers. As I mentioned before, teachers often feel under-appreciated. A not-to generous state salary (in state schools) won’t help the issue. Counter this negativity by investing time to watch and praise what they do.
May you lead well in education!