Sometime in the final term of last year I presented these slides to the SLT, showing them my visions for how to lead – and motivate – a team from the middle. There are some gaps that you will see in the slides, this is where I have removed pictures of children from the school which were included in the original presentation. Although, as yet I am not a year leader, I have been given multiple opportunities to micro manage and lead teams in different areas of teaching. This blog today shows you my current opinions on how it should be done, and hopefully not all of it is in ‘a perfect world’, but more of ‘a possible world.’
It may sound obvious to some of you, but staff need to always remember one question when deciding whether or not to do something: will it benefit the children? Let’s be honest, who is it for if it isn’t? You’ve not got time to have an ego in teaching. If the children do not benefit from what you are planning on doing – don’t bother wasting your valuable time!
Being on the same page is vital in any team. Following on from the previous paragraph, the child has to be in the middle of every decision made. How you approach class room behaviour, how you deal with playground duty, how you share out planning (in larger cohorts) etc. Having that high expectation is vital, of yourself as a team member, of yourself as a team leader, of your team and of your children.
This links in with mutual respect, you must maintain mutual respect with your team. No matter what your role is in that team, mutual respect and appreciation for the things that make every day a success is important to consider for the success of a team.
The opportunity to SPARKLE;
SPARKLE is our school’s ethos and culture all rolled in to one.
It stands for:
Everyone’s comfort zone alters every second of every day depending on a whole host of elements. The weather, your mood, your situation, what it is you are doing! Therefore it is vital to be aware of your comfort zone, as a leader or team member, and also aware of your team member’s comfort zone. When managing a larger primary school team (my school is 5 form entry, with a number of job shares), it is important the team leader considers (and is aware of) a staff member’s strengths and weaknesses when allocating varying roles in a year group, such as planning responsibilities.
Considering a team members personal preferences is also important, however ultimately what is best for the child should be what is behind decisions when they are made. Some staff may wish to have a certain role for a whole host of reasons:
They know they are the best in that area (they might be!)
They enjoy that particular role immensely
They are have done the same role for years (is that challenging then?)
There are plenty more reasons, however decisions should be made after a carefully balanced consideration. Some staff may not be able to cope with some new challenges, so personality and flexibility needs to be considered. There is a lot to it, don’t be a dictator – but also don’t give a team everything they want, it might not be best for the children.
How do you act as year leader? That’s obvious, and goes without saying, however sometimes the lines can be blurred if carefully maintained.
In an ideal world, you want your team motivated intrinsically. To reach this goal, you ultimately need you team wanting to better themselves and deliver and teach to the best of their ability for themselves. Not because they want to please the senior leadership team, not because they want to look good in front of their peers, but for themselves.
Positivity, and ensuring you’ve got it right on the previous slide is vital to give yourself the best chance for having a successful year.
I remember delivering a speech to PGCE students a few years ago, discussing with them my experiences during my PGCE year. I actively encouraged them to take up an after school club, in something they had a passion for and wanted to share with the children in their care. It was met with muttering from their mentors, not positive muttering either! I addressed it right then, and explained how I found I made quicker progress in developing professional relationships with the children I taught and dealt with their behaviour more effectively following teaching them in an after school club.
I currently run a maximum of 3 clubs a week, it’s a lot of work on top of my school day. But at the same time, it’s quite often one of the best bits of my day. I guess it’s like teaching without a national curriculum, that freedom to share your passion and interest and truly inspire the children to learn from you. I’d like to think I do that a lot of the time in class (could be more often…) , but it’s different in an after school club. Taking children to compete in sport, whether it is football, athletics or even in our school go-kart is exciting and develops a child in terms of life experiences. (The picture on this slide was taken at Goodwood, Sussex when we entered into the Green Goblin competition with 90 other schools!)
I believe that a child learns best when they are enjoying themselves, when they have hooks and passions at school and when the teacher is allowing them to have the best memories and experiences, before going to high school.
Momentum teams: a small team of staff from across the school who meet irregularly to discuss ways to develop the school approach in a focused area.
Over the years I have been a part of many momentum teams, this year I have an active role in the teaching schools team, marketing team and behaviour team. Over the years it has allowed me to enhance and develop my understanding of wider school areas, and gain a better insight into the bigger picture, when considering how to run a successful school.
This slide speaks for itself, and leads on from previous slide with more specific expectations. Maintaining (and adopting) your own standards are vital, it allows you to be consistent. Consistency is vital, a team needs to know their leader is going to approach them openly, honestly and consistently. If you surprise your team, they will surprise you…and it won’t always be with a bottle of wine!
How can you improve your team? I’d love to know what you do at your schools, whether you are a school leader or not! What would you like to do to get better? This blog is more of an opportunity for me to share with the wider world my opinions on different aspect of primary school teaching. However, I am more than happy to be called out wrong – or shown a better way to do things!
Thanks for reading everyone!