The conversations we take part in as leaders take a number of forms, informal chats in corridors, question and answer sessions where you or a colleague need a particular piece of information. Presentations to implement a new strategy with the aim of getting everyone on board with your way of thinking. Discussions where the best way forward is discussed with team members. Even the occasional “you need to do this”. Each of these is handled differently and I takes a different skill.
In my 20Q assessment for the NPQML I received feedback that an area to work on was in challenging underperformance. I would not really argue this, its not my favourite type of courageous conversation. This may be a future post as I work through it. If you follow David Jones’s thinking that then I am most confident in dealing with conversations for which I am most prepared and have all the facts.
As a PROACT-SCIPr-UK instructor I am often required to discuss incidents of varying severity with staff or class teams. I can conduct these with my personal experiences of similar situations or even the specific student. I have also extensive specialist training so am confident that I know the relevant rules, protocols and legalities.
Pupil achievement is a trickier conversation. If I have taught the student I know the strategies that worked with me. I think I am easily caught off guard by negative reactions to my advice. The last face to face session really helped in showing how preparation and clarity is invaluable. As a key stage manager it is my responsibility to ensure that support is provided where required and capability issues are tackled effectively using the resources I have available (usually staffing and time). Since the start of this course I have got better in targeting interventions where they are required and can have the most impact. It is a juggling act and can seem that you take your eye of one ball another will fall. The importance of dealing with situations and identifying potential problems early is increasingly clear to me. I have been attempting to do this over the last couple of weeks. Having the confidence to stick to decisions and trust in your judgement is difficult – I think I can often appear confident then doubt myself when back in the office.
Conversations about teaching and learning are great when they are two way exchanges of ideas. I can sometimes use my passion for a topic or idea to get staff engaged with new developments, and not always the staff I would expect. I have had great success getting members of our residential team onboard with my e-safety initiatives. David Jones states that when passion is seen [in a subject specialist] children get excited, I think to a large degree the same is true of staff who will often be invigorated when the learn a new skill, or to give an ICT example a new app or piece of technology. This actually happened last week with two members of staff who approached me then implemented the ideas I gave them.