Schools are a hive of activity at the moment and there seems to be very little time to sit back and reflect on the year that has passed. Reflection, in the few weeks that are left of this term, is important for each and every one of us in order to look to the new year with optimism.
In recent months, you would have been part of an evaluation process at your schools. These evaluations are often looked upon with negativity and even fear by many teachers, but they can be incredibly valuable to us as individuals. We should look at the scores and results of these evaluations as a guide for self- improvement and not as personal criticism.
The process of reflection allows us to examine ourselves and our attitudes. It also enables us to find a way forward once we have identified the areas that need to be changed or improved on. On reflection, you’re likely to see the scores of your evaluation in a different light and use them in a positive way to develop your skills.
After reflection, don’t be afraid to approach the senior staff members at your school and make a time to discuss your concerns. You are entitled to make your voice heard in a mature, respectful and unconfrontational manner. Sometimes we incorrectly assume that our senior staff won’t have time for us but often the opposite is true.
Bear in mind that many of the members of our leadership teams don’t have experience in the Foundation Phase, so they aren’t always aware of the difficulties you might be facing. They need to know what your challenges are so that they can put measures in place to assist and support you. Remember, if you don’t voice your challenges, the management team will assume you are happy with the way things are.
Try to differentiate between what can be changed and what can’t. Continually harping on things that just cannot be changed will cause you to feel that you are not being heard. This will add to your feelings of dissatisfaction. Focussing on what can be changed will give you an opening to start a positive and meaningful conversation. It will also give the management team an opportunity to see the situation from a different perspective.
Go to such a meeting prepared to take responsibility for changes that you or your seniors may suggest. Let them know that you are a team player and that you are prepared to make changes as well in order to improve things at your school or personally. These meetings can be awkward to start with, but your attitude can make all the difference. Be open, honest, and respectful. A touch of kindness thrown in will not do any harm!
As in meetings with parents, use the word ‘I’ and ‘we’ instead of ‘you’ or ‘they. Make yourself a part of the solution and not a part of the problem. Listen with understanding and be prepared to compromise. Keep your emotions in check and think carefully before making a decision or a comment that you might regret later.
Communication is key to the success of any organisation. It creates a better understanding of the needs of all the stakeholders and develops trust and respect.
If you are in a leadership position at your school, I challenge you to create an atmosphere where your teachers feel comfortable to express their concerns without fear of being judged. Set an example by being a good listener. Be aware of what is happening around you and enable your teachers to feel at ease to initiate honest discussions with you. Take their concerns to the next level of management if necessary and always make sure that you give your colleagues feedback even if it’s not what you think they want to hear.
It takes courage to go out and have those conversations. The right words at the right time have immense power. Make your words count.
Have a great week. Kind regards
Jenny (on behalf of)
The Teachers’ Support Team
Principals Academy Trust
#15 of 2021, 25 October 2021