Recently, I have been reflecting on this key quote from Headteacher, Chris Dyson’s blog “This is What Teachers Need: Love and Smiles”.
“The biggest resource and the biggest impact on success in any school are the teachers and the TA’s, and so their well-being is paramount.”
I think Chris’ idea that school improvement is a deeply human pursuit really hits the nail on the head. To transform our schools, we must take care of those who show up every day for our children.
Reflecting on Chris’ own leadership practice, it is evident that he brings out the best in his staff by enabling them to feel three key things...
1. Help them to feel valued
Research has shown that when our efforts and achievements are recognised and seen to be valued, we not only feel better about ourselves but our brain functions are also optimised. Therefore, a staff member who feels valued and is operating at their best, is far more likely to go the extra mile.
By rewarding individual effort, for going above and beyond in activities both in and outside the classroom and by sharing examples of best practice within your team, you can create a culture that inspires all to achieve their very best.
Whilst rewarding individual effort is important, building a sense of collegiality and community can also be achieved by scheduling time for celebratory events at the end of every year or term.
These events can acknowledge whole school progress and highlight everyone’s contribution towards what has been achieved.
2. Help them to feel like they belong
We are all social and relational creatures. When we feel like we belong, we feel a deep sense of connection to others; we feel we have a role to play and can see how our presence influences the teams of which we are a part.
As a result, we gain more pleasure from our roles and hence are more likely to invest more of ourselves, energy, time and effort.
When individuals feel like they belong there is a sense of community, staff work more effectively as a team and galvanise their efforts towards the fulfilment of common goals.
Building a shared sense of belonging within a team takes time and effort. But by investing in activities that create a strong sense of belonging, you not only show staff that they are valuable members of your team, you also set the standard for the way in which they should interact with each other and the young people in their care.
3. Help them to feel safe and supported
The nature of education means that change is a constant of any teacher or school leader’s life. Heightened levels of ambiguity and feelings of overwhelm and worry often accompany the change process.
Schools need to be attuned to this fact, when seeking to help staff feel safe and supported. If not, there will be a tendency for staff to operate in “survival mode”, leading them to become disconnected from their roles and the passion that drives them.
One of the best way to help teachers feel safe and supported is by providing your staff opportunities to share openly and honestly their feelings and concerns, and locate solutions for whatever challenges they might be facing. The best way to do this is by developing a coaching culture in your school.
In such schools, leaders are trained with key skills that help them to create conversational places of safety where team members can be supported to explore their practice and uncover solutions for maximising their performance.
If you would like to take the first steps towards developing a coaching culture in your school and learn some skills that can help you better manage your staff, then on 23rd November - I'll be hosting a Free Coaching Skills workshop session designed for all school leaders, who are interested in coaching and want to:
– Gain a deeper understanding of the principles of coaching and how they are able to support school improvement and staff development
– Discover how you can embed coaching into your school
– Learn some basic coaching skills that you can support you in your role