Empowering Teachers

How do your Senior Leadership Team make you feel?

Senior leaders who put relationships first get the most out of their staff.

Sounds obvious doesn’t it but not all SLTs put their staff first. Empowering teachers and making them feel valued lies at the heart of effective management. Great managers are worth their weight in gold.

Good Heads might fret about data and accountability but they don’t pass the parcel of panic to their team.

The best managers I have had have always been those that have shown a genuine interest professionally and personally. They managed to get the best out of me because they did what they did best – ‘managed’ people not numbers. They set up their teaching teams to win not lose.

The worst managers I have worked with have not been ‘people’ people. Despite holding high office, they have lacked the sensitivity, awareness and values to interact effectively and all ‘managed’ to mess up.

The number one sin these managers have made is failing to get to know their staff as real people with lives beyond teaching.

Knowing someone’s personal situations makes all the difference and having ‘the knowledge’ of staff means knowing what’s impacting from outside (positive and negative): this might be your dog has just died, your car is on the blink, your daughter has passed her Grade 2 piano, etc.

When managers know their staff then they are more effective managers because they are ‘in the loop’, informed and far more responsive to your needs, moods and life events. Every member of staff has their own narrative and Heads have to find the key to unlock the trust.

My best Head Teacher was someone who had an unrivalled ability to get inside my head. I trusted her, she trusted me and we had an unwritten agreement that I would work my socks off for her and the school. This came about because I felt she understood my needs as a teacher and also knew what pressures I was under away from school.

When a manger knows what makes you tick then they know how best to support you, what buttons to press (and not to press) and how to support. The best Heads are coaches who forge professional bonds that breed trust and loyalty.

Top Heads provide clear direction and give people clear expectations. They actively listen, ask people for their input and then make decisions.

And here’s the crucial bit: they don’t subject their staff to a regime of triple marking, piles of plans and ludicrous lesson plans that no one reads or sticks by. How can anyone ‘plan’ a lesson – learning unfolds in its own way and takes different directions.

If your SLT have any sense of what it is to be a teacher then they will release you from the workload woes and mindless meetings that eat into your wellbeing and trust you to get on with the job.

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