Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does.
Seth Godin – Linchpins.
I recently submitted my evidence for the NPQML qualification and thought it may be useful to share my experience. The qualification is a middle leaders qualification which looks at the challenges of being a middle leader from a variety of perspectives.
The qualification requires participants to undertake a school based project. I was already involved in a number of whole school projects so decided to use something that I was already doing and felt passionately about. My project looked at creating more opportunities for staff to engage with effective, meaningful CPD across the school. For me I don’t see this as work but as something I really enjoy doing – finding innovative and creative ways to engage staff with CPD with intent of improving experiences for students beyond just those that I teach. This is my art.
My project had a clear trajectory.
- Assemble a group of great teachers.
- Plan and deliver a 50 minute CPD marketplace session.
- Plan and deliver a school INSET day (each member of the team would deliver a workshop).
- Plan and deliver a TeachMeet.
I collected evidence as I went along with some of the highlights below:
The one key element that made the project worthwhile were the people. The group of teachers I managed to get together and work with were (and still are) truly remarkable people – doing everything in their power to help young people. It was a real inspiration for me to work with this group and made me want to work even harder and take on more challenges. The people I met at the away days during the course were also a great source of inspiration and challenge. One of the best parts of the course was meeting people outside of my school and talking about teaching, learning and the challenges of middle leadership. Teachers talking about teaching.
My advice to people interested in enrolling on the course – find something you are truly passionate about that will make a positive change and then make it happen. If you can’t get on the course do it anyway. Don’t do the course for the sake of getting a certificate – do it because you want to make a difference. Find you art and make it happen.
In my short time as a teacher my formal leadership opportunities have been limited but that has not stopped me from leading. Leadership for me is not about a formal title but about building positive habits, inspiring others and leading by example. Leadership is about doing simple things that enrich people and organisations.
I try to make a positive contribution everyday I am in school, but for the purpose of this blog I will look at a recent example – coaching teachers. Working with colleagues and leading them through change to improve their practice can be daunting. Using the Heath brothers ‘Switch’ framework I was able to motivate colleagues by returning to our moral purpose, the students. Remembering that everything we do as teachers should be geared towards improving student outcomes. I was also able to set clear goals ‘not below a 2’ and then support colleagues to achieve that goal. To do this I shrank the change. If a colleague was struggling with several aspects of their lesson, reminding the, of that would not help. So we started by focusing on just the structure of a lesson. Letting the men-tee feel success and mastery of just one aspect before moving onto the next area of improvement. This extends the coaching cycle but makes for a greater chance of success.
I also used Seth Godin’s ‘purple cow’ analogy of trying to do remarkable things. Once a colleague had satisfied the ‘2’ criteria during a lesson observation I would encourage them to to take risks and be remarkable. Safe is risky. ‘Very good’ is bad. We must be remarkable! To help colleagues achieve this I invited them to observe my lessons and we would jointly observe other outstanding teachers in the school To get experience of what outstanding lessons look and feel like. Leading by example is a key element of leadership.
To to summarise I believe leadership is not a title or pay grade but a habit. My most positive contributions have come from influencing others through striving to be remarkable in everything I do.