Coaching & Leadership Development
Managing Your Emotions as a School Leader

Managing Your Emotions as a School Leader

  This is the final part of a blog series from Headteacher of Three Bridges School, Jeremy Hannay (@HannayJeremy).  To read the other blogs from the series, please click here.   It’s a Tuesday morning – I have just walked through the door and sat down at my desk after my 40 mile drive to work.    I have a million and one things on my mind, have opened up my long list of things to do and just started crafting a reply to a difficult email I received, attempting to avoid an escalation.  Then there is a inevitable knock at my door.   First – I am THINKING – ‘This better be really important!’ But my response is: ‘Good Morning! How are you?’    This conversation goes a number of ways, but often is something like:    ‘I’m wondering if you had a chance to look at the email I sent you?’ (The one they sent me 5 minutes ago or last night at 11pm).   Now – I am THINKING – ‘You know I have just arrived – and I haven’t even been here 5 minutes…’   But my response is: ‘I’m really sorry, I haven’t had a chance yet.  What’s up?’   ‘It’s just that I’m not sure everyone knows what’s happening for book day – and maybe you could send an email to everyone reminding them of the day, etc.’   Now – I am THINKING – ‘You have got to be joking. You have fingers, a keyboard and a computer – if you think that people don’t know, YOU SEND THE EMAIL! You had time to send me one!’   But...
Transforming Performance Management

Transforming Performance Management

  This is part 3 of a blog series from Headteacher of Three Bridges School, Jeremy Hannay (@HannayJeremy).  To read the other blogs from the series, please click here.   The first thing thats important is we speak the same language.  What does performance management look like in practice in most schools?  It is often a combination (or triangulation) of a few aspects.   1 – Data: usually from pupils’ attainment and progress, including end of key stage and national tests as well as internal school data . 2 – Books: some level of information about the progress/quality/contents of your pupils books   3 – Observation/learning walks: information from your most recent (or series of) observations, learning walks, etc.   There is also a target setting and evaluation component – often heavily revolving around pupil data (attainment and/or progress).   The next aspect to consider is WHY we have such a corporate approach to performance.  Really, it is the overly simplistic view that there are two types of teachers: good ones and bad ones.  Good ones have deep impact on pupil achievement and bad ones have little, no, or a negative impact.   Therefore, if we can measure what they do, we can find, celebrate and curate the good ones and get rid of the bad ones.  The trouble is, teaching is a lot more complex than that.  As are our schools.  One only needs to look as far as the United States to see the damning reports of the invisible impact of trying to improve teaching through narrow performance measures.   There is a place in every school to discuss pupil data –...
Walking the Talk as a School Leader

Walking the Talk as a School Leader

  This is part 4 of a blog series from Headteacher of Three Bridges School, Jeremy Hannay (@HannayJeremy).  To read the other blogs from the series, please click here.   This word is attributable in my leadership journey to Kevin Graham, a high school Principal with the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board in Ontario, Canada.    He was one of my facilitators on the Canadian version of the NPQH, known as the PQP (Principals Qualification Program). Kevin used this term frequently.   At the time, I understood it one way – today, as a Headteacher, I see it in a new light.  My ability to lead others is based primarily on trust, and this trust is founded a a number of factors – with the largest, arguably, being alignment: are what I say and what I do congruent?  Am I being authentic, genuine and honest?   There’s no sense walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching. It is one of the reasons I host so many people at Three Bridges each year – my voice should be a whisper – my school – my practice – is the amplifier.   Not just what and how – think why   Alignment is first and foremost about your ‘why’.  Articulating this is often a very complex piece of work.  Simon Sinek writes and speaks about this.  We can all describe what we do, and many of us can talk about how we do it – but recruitment and retention, performance and standards, people going the extra mile or giving up before the job is done – is most often linked to the compelling and...
Moving away from Monitoring and Scrutiny

Moving away from Monitoring and Scrutiny

This is part 2 of a blog series from Headteacher of Three Bridges School, Jeremy Hannay (@HannayJeremy).  To read the other blogs from the series, please click here.   Even typing those words makes me feel ill . Lets first think about the sorts of things we monitor and scrutinise:  books, planning, learning environments, displays? Road traffic? Lots of things, I’m sure.   How do we typically do this: collect in books, have planning collected in folders, complete the ever-popular learning walk.  Sometimes with colleagues, sometimes without.  All of this takes a great deal of time – for teachers and senior staff.  Someone asked me last week how I have time to fit in everything – because I got rid of all this.   Now, let’s think about WHY we feel the need to monitor and scrutinise our professional people – all of which I understand and can think of times it would be useful.   A – its about performance.  I feel that if I don’t have my eye on what’s happening, performance will decline or derail. B – its about consistency.  I feel that if we are not checking up on teachers, they’ll deviate from the ‘game plan’ C– its about standards.  I feel that while they may be doing their very best and following our instructional programme, it still may not be good enough. D– its about CPD.  I feel that when I intimately know what teachers are doing, I can plan better CPD for them.   My question isn’t: are these ‘whys’ important. I don’t think there is anyone that would argue that performance, consistencies, standards and development are bad goals.   What...
Building Trust in a Culture of Scepticism

Building Trust in a Culture of Scepticism

  This is part 1 of a blog series from Headteacher of Three Bridges School, Jeremy Hannay (@HannayJeremy). To read the other blogs from the series, please click here.   After my post on Twitter about our recent Ofsted visit and how we have done away with the traditional monitoring, scrutiny and accountabilities culture, I have had a number of requests to visit – and even more genuine questions about what we do instead.  It seems like an obvious question – but the answer is quite complex.   If the question is: what do we do instead of all of that? The answer is: a bunch of stuff and nothing at all   Now I realise that this isn’t what people are hoping for.   Take away observation – fine.  Get rid of scrutiny – ok.  Remove data targets – alright.    We’ve always felt a bit off doing that.  But how do we ensure that learning and teaching are strong?  Ultimately, as Headteachers, we are responsible.’  Right?  Right.   So I thought I’d share some of the building blocks necessary to get rid of (or minimise) the stuff driving teachers out of our profession – and develop a culture of trust, development, collaboration, support, agency and challenge.  If you’re looking for a quick fix, stop reading. It is not as simple as ‘stop observing, start xyz’.   This is cathedral building, not stone shifting.  It is complex and organic.  It will take time. It is less convenient.  It will make you uncomfortable.  It will be risky, challenging, and scary (at times).  You will need to be vulnerable.  But – this is the...