Are You A Potter Or A Poet?

There is no blueprint for being a teacher or Head teacher but there are ‘types’ we can identify.

Terry Deal and Ken Paterson in Shaping School Culture (1999) see school leaders adopting 8 roles:

1. Historian

This is understanding where the school has come from and why it behaves as it does currently.

2. Anthropological sleuth

This is detecting the current set of norms, values and beliefs that define the current culture.

3. Visionary

This is a leader who works with others to define a deeply value-focused picture of the future of the school.

4. Symbolic

This is someone who affirms values through dress, behaviour, attention and routines.

5. Potter

A person who shapes and is shaped by the school’s heroes, rituals, traditions, ceremonies, symbols and brings in staff who share core values.

6. Poet

Someone who uses language to reinforce values and sustains the school’s best image of itself.

7. Actor

This is a pedagogue who improvises in the school’s inevitable dramas, comedies and tragedies.

8. Healer

A caring soul who oversees transitions and changes in the life of the school and heals wounds of conflict and loss.

These characteristics are the intangibles and non-quantifiable assets and contributions that we make as individuals. They demonstrate what we can do beyond the technical bits of being a teacher. In all likelihood you will possess more than one of these roles and could well be a potter, poet, actor and visionary. Then again, you might have a particular talent for healing and dealing with the messy stuff.

Whichever role you occupy, the above list illustrates once again that teaching is never just about the teaching. It is a multidimensional role that means being lots of people all at the same time.

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