Coaching & Leadership Development
How to Develop a School Coaching Culture

How to Develop a School Coaching Culture

  There seems to be a lot of buzz around coaching at the moment and for good reason. Coaching is a great tool for getting the best out of others and in the school environment can complement a wide range of people management processes.   When we think about developing a coaching culture we need to begin by developing a clear picture of what might be the hallmarks of a school where coaching is an integral part of the school’s processes.   From my experience schools with a strong coaching culture have the following hallmarks:   – Individuals are solution focused when problems arise – Individuals have a strong sense of self-advocacy – Questions are used insightfully and as a way to progress conversations – Individuals take ownership of their own professional development – Coaching models and techniques are used to inform the appraisal process, lesson observation feedback and other performance management processes – Risk taking is encouraged – There are high levels of professional trust   If you are in the early stages of considering how to develop a coaching culture in your school, one of the key questions that you might simply be asking yourself is, “Where do I begin?’   In response to this question, one of the best places to begin, is by simply taking a snapshot of where your school is at and identifying where you want to get to.   According to Organisational Coach David Clutterbuck, there are four levels of development in creating a coaching culture and it can be helpful to identify what stage your school is currently at.   Where...
3 Ways to Build Your Confidence as a School Leader

3 Ways to Build Your Confidence as a School Leader

  How many times as a school leader have you experienced a crisis of confidence? There may have been times when you’ve made a difficult decision and others have doubted you, or days when your confidence has been knocked by a series of uninvited criticisms.   Unless your coated in Teflon, I’d guess you’d say incidences like these, that bring about feelings of self-doubt and worry are regular occurrences. They appear to come with the territory of school leadership. Yet, as common as they might be, it is essential that as a school leader you find ways to overcome these negative feelings when they arise.   It is your confidence that inspires and ignites it in others. Because of this interplay between your own levels of confidence and that displayed in others, it is essential that as a school leader you pay attention to developing practices that actively nurture and build your own.   You may already have your own practices in place, but experience has taught me that there are three essential practices that school leaders need to cultivate if they are to protect, nurture and strengthen their self-confidence. It might be worth reviewing these and asking yourself how many of these do you practice on a regular basis?   1. Practice accepting praise   I know that as a school leader you see the worth and potential of every child in your school. I know that you want the best for them and whatever attempts they make to succeed, you  praise them.   You praise them for their effort. You praise them for their tenacity and dogged determination....
Why Headteachers need Support

Why Headteachers need Support

  Like all top leadership positions, school leadership and headship in particular brings with it the type of power that isolates: positional power. The higher up you are in an organisation, the more your positional power means that you not only have increased pressures and responsibilities, it also means an increased distancing in relationships.   Learning how to balance the need for human connection, with the need to maintain the integrity of the leadership role, is a challenge many Head Teachers  face.  It is a challenge that is best addressed when individuals invest in building both internal and external networks of support. Which include turning to their fellow Head teacher colleagues.   When you are ‘lower down’ the school hierarchy it is much easier to build relationships with those who are like you and to share problems with those who will have had similar experiences. To begin with there are more of you. If, for example, you are a class teacher in a primary school or a head of year in a secondary school, there will be others that hold the same position who you can turn to for support.   However, as you climb, the number of individuals that hold the same or similar post diminishes until, finally, you reach the top – head teacher – and look around to find that there is no one in your setting who holds the same position as you.   Overcoming loneliness at the top   In learning to cope with the isolation brought about by positional power, Head Teachers have to learn how to develop new types of relationships. An...
The 10 Key Skills of Successful School Leaders

The 10 Key Skills of Successful School Leaders

  During my time in education, I have been fortunate enough to witness great school leaders (many of whom I have worked with) transform the fortunes of the young people who are in their care. They have worked tirelessly to bring to fruition their dreams, hopes and aspirations. So that every child, no matter their background or circumstance, could fulfil their potential.   I don’t believe this happens by chance, but rather because over time (and with a lot of hard work and patience) these leaders have developed key skills (and qualities) that have enabled them to develop school cultures in which all individuals can thrive.   From my reflections on my work with these individuals and the outcomes that they have achieved for their schools, I have identified ten key skills/attributes (there may well be more!) that I believe help school leaders to be successful in their roles.   1. Ability to embrace their own vulnerability   When the emotional needs of school leaders are not met, it is the vulnerable self that suffers. Locked away behind a wall of self-preservation and sometimes fear, individuals end up neglecting that part of themselves that needs to be truly listened to, nurtured and encouraged. Successful school leaders recognise this. They do not see vulnerability as a sign of weakness. They know it is something that defines their own humanity and must be taken care of. As they understand that sadly, in an increasingly inhumane education system, protecting their own vulnerability, means that they can keep hold of humane ways for leading themselves and others.   2. Ability to dig deep...
The 4 Features of Great Performance Management

The 4 Features of Great Performance Management

  Performance Management is one of the key processes that exists in schools for managing adult behaviour. However, because the process is often seen as perfunctory and in some cases, is not seen as a real driver to assist school improvement, a key opportunity is missed for developing potential and bringing out the best in others.   For most schools, the majority of their budgets are spent on staffing. So, it’s a travesty that many do not recognise the benefits to be gained in developing performance management procedures that can enhance, develop and retain their staff.   When used effectively, performance management can be used to create a culture where there is…   “An organic sense of self-improvement fuelled by the genuine and self-motivated desire of all individuals to make things better”  Andy Buck, What Makes a Great school   When the school culture is as described above, there is a common set of understanding and beliefs about performance management. Individuals see it as a process for accelerating the achievement of school targets through:   – Creating alignment between organisational and personal objectives – Growing and developing others – Enabling others to step outside of their comfort zones – Supporting others to achieve their full potential – Inspiring confidence in each other’s ability to succeed – Ensuring ownership and accountability   When divergent beliefs and attitudes exist about the purpose and value of performance management individuals struggle to take responsibility for their own actions. As a result, they can lose some of their own internal motivation to succeed and can become dependent on others for solutions.   But what does...