On reading the final section of the thinkpiece. It made me think about my feelings towards Headship. I hold this role in such high regard that it makes me nervous. Yet, I see there is no room for nervousness. I will really need to practise and own the mantra ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. There is no way that one can be 100% right and confident all the time but hopefully this will be the preparation I need. Often times, people make comments and I listen carefully. There are many comments which go deep and others skim the surface. Some allow me to make changes and others I do not take on board. I think in some ways we already, as senior leaders anyway, experience the surface of what it is like to make a change to the way we think and behave. The responsibility to role model and the credibility we seek is also already there, even though it may not be of the same weighting.
How will I learn about my new school?
One of the questions asked about the difference all of this makes if appointed in a completely new school or appointed in a school you currently work in resonates with me as I am closely watching the transition of my current Head who began at the same time as me as a DH and has recently begun as the new HT taking over from one who was there for 10 years. I have seen how he is expediting his team and I believe he has a good team around him, myself being one of the members of course. I would like to be in a position like this where I know some will help build alliances to ensure that they are committed to and share the same goal and vision I have for my school. I think this is an absolute non-negotiable. Given that many will have already formulated opinions about HTs and assumptions about the changes to be made. It is vital that a new HT capitalises on this however, as where there needs to be change, although anxious about it, many are expecting it and if it means early wins whilst doing so I believe they will be ready for any ‘unpalatable’ decisions and discussion which also need to take place. This could be redundancies for instance for poorly kept budgets or inherited or building issues.
I would definitely ask lots of questions but carefully planned ones, yes even those as you don’t want to come across as an incompetent person and someone who lacks the ability to have insight and make intelligent judgements by asking too many questions. I think getting into lessons and walkabouts are essential for presence and also get the feel of the school prior to joining it as well as in the very early days.
Of course reading the documentation about the school and looking at how it brands itself will say a lot. Finally but not least, talking with students and parents. Perhaps attending and shadowing the current HT at parent surgeries if they have these would be useful also.
My SLT and systems:
I would want to also have a PD session to establish ground rules as the previous HT did. I don’t think as a new HT it is best to lead on this but to prioritise this as there will be a variety of experience and skills but it’s getting the hearts and minds of the team together which matters.
I am a stickler for systems, always wanting systems to make the school more effective and efficient so I think something I would want to address which could have early wins would be this if these are not in place already.
Currently we have what I consider not to be the most efficient admin systems in place and this is I believe down to the manpower behind it. The PD is essential to bring them up to speed and also for the support of the direction in which the school needs to move.
Appraisal is definitely a way forward and I have quite a bit of experience both in shaping this as a process and using it for ensuring impact. This word ‘impact’ is key.
How can I make the best use of the time from being appointed to the first day in the job?
I think the best way to begin my own transition planning is to keep my personal journal of my journey and to highlight specific learning moments. I already keep a bank of emails where I keep scripts ‘to learn from’ based on particular situations. Even the wording and ways of communication, electronically or otherwise are crucial in establishing oneself. Personally, as I read this, I thought about how I want to be perceived and how, as a HT even when your SLT may be upset by decisions made how hard and thick-skinned you have to be and it made me begin to think like this. I think this is the area I will need to work on the most as well as being confident in areas I am less so and knowing how to use people effectively based on their skill base.
I think I will write in my personal journal under each of Boyatzis’ diagrame as part of my development and keep a log of how I develop towards headship.
I am not sure how this will change. It will depend on who and where they are in their own journey. I think there may be some difficulty with members of the SLT who I speak to as a peer if I am in the same school but in some ways, going to a brand new school makes this easier as a transition as it would not apply in that context.