Are you a leader in your classroom?

“After a high profile career as CEO, Pierre Pirard decided to redirect his focus and became a teacher. Working in Brussels’ most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, he discovered that these children — usually portrayed as troublemakers — are able to rise above this negative image. He believes that these kids are the future of our society and that we should care for their education, no matter what their socio-cultural and economical background is.”

Professional development and leadership

I recently read a blog post by Chris Wejr, called 8 Strategies to Bring Out The Best in Your Staff, shared on Twitter by @rhonimcfarlane.

The article gave me cause to reflect on my practice as a leader and how I support other staff. It also made me think specifically of the staff that I line manage and the effectiveness of my leadership in this area. This was something already in the forefront of my mind as I am currently meeting with and helping the staff I line manage to write their professional development review for 2015.

Chris’ article is based on the research of the Corporate Leadership Council who surveyed over 19000 employees in 34 large companies in 27 countries to determine key strategies to increase performance in the workplace. Chris has made links between what  was found by the survey and how it relates to a school environment.

I have asked myself some questions and reflected on my leadership based on some of the points from Chris’ post. I have considered these questions from two points of view:

1. As a line manager – directly in relation to those I line manage.

2. As Teaching and Learning Coordinator and my relationship with all staff at PBAS.

Research and Reflection Questions

1. Helping find solutions to problems at work resulted in an increase of 23.7% in individual employee performance.

  • As a leader do I find the time to listen to others, their issues and then take the time to help them find solutions?

2. Helping employees to attain needed information, resources, and technology resulted in an increase of 19.2% in performance.

  • As a leader do I help/support others to access the resources they need to do their job well?
  • Do I keep a constant message and long-term focus that is understood by staff in relation to teaching and learning? OR Am I constantly changing message –  confusing and alienating staff?

3. Emphasis on performance strengths (in formal reviews) resulted in an increase of 36.4% in individual performance while the emphasis on performance weaknesses resulted in a decrease of 26.8% in performance.

  • Do I help teachers build on their strengths? Do I know what teachers strengths are?
  • If acknowledging staff strengths in a formal setting has a positive impact on their performance how could I create more opportunities to do this (not just once in an end of year review)?

4. Providing fair and accurate informal feedback resulted in an increase of 39.1% in individual performance. Manager knowledge about employee performance resulted in an increase of 30.3%.

  • How often do I get into classrooms to see the teachers I line manage actually teach? When do I take the time to visit their classes to chat informally and interact with their students, so I can begin to understand their strengths and better support their development? (I see this as separate to more formal observations which might target a specific pedagogy)
  • How do I negotiate this with teachers? How often do I do it? How do I provide the feedback to the teacher?
  • Would my presence in the classroom and any feedback given help or hinder performance? Would it be valuable to the teacher?

5. Being provided with the opportunity to work on things you do best resulted in an increase of 28.8% in individual performance.

  • Do I know the strengths and interests of staff I line manage?
  • Do I provide support for teachers to build on these strengths?
  • Do I promote the sharing of these strengths with other staff?

What do you believe makes a good line manager? How do you want to be supported with your professional development? Would appreciate any comments.