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How do I transition from a class teacher to a school leader (Amanda Harvey, Deputy Director)

A call to action…

One of the hats I have the privilege of wearing for ATLAS is as an ITP/OTP facilitator. I get to meet individuals from a variety of schools who are looking to improve their practice within their own classroom and around their school.

It is a hard evolution for many of us to make. How do I transition from a class teacher to a school leader? When is the right time to leave the safety of my bubble? What will be expected of me? Are leaders born or made?

Ok – enough AfL!!

I want to make it clear that Leadership is not about seniority, titles or hierarchy.

Back in my days as a Newham-based teacher I went on a course called Leading from the Middle. This 5-day intensive course gave us a taste of everything from preparing Ofsted documents, to coaching staff, to presenting to governors.

This course gave us opportunities and tools however the best thing it gave me was time to self-reflect on my practice both inside and outside the classroom.

So, how do you lead at your school?  

  1. Lead by example

Those on OTP with us at Atlas are doing this. Outstanding learning is happening in their classrooms. Children are engaged, challenged and making progress.

How do you share your good practice with others? Welcome visitors in for learning walks, have a trainee-teacher in your class and share your books with others. Help your colleagues plan lessons and have your data reported on time. Do you see observations as a chance to show off your best practice?

 

  1. Know your strengths

Everyone knows that if you care about something you are going to be passionate about it and make sure it is seen through to fruition.

Which area of leadership would you focus on?

Are you a data whiz? Can you lead your school in both preparing and analysing data?

Or are passionate about sport at your school and leading whole-school fitness initiatives?

Knowing what you love and are good at is a great way to share your knowledge with your colleagues.

 

  1. Learn from everyone

If there is something you don’t know FIND OUT. Get into other practitioners lessons when possible; see your colleagues teach. Know what best practice looks like and be able to discuss it. Make sure you are looking outside of your specialty as well.

Having been a year 6 teacher for many years I found working with Reception children made me question my practice. Do I need to resource more for the different ability groups? Am I providing enough time for the children to explore the material? Do I need to change the pace of different lessons?

 

  1. Get involved

If your school is looking for someone to lead on a subject or have visitors in to observe - volunteer. Lead a workshop or professional learning session at school.

Once upon a time we had the Education Secretary into a school I worked at. While it might have been stressful to have that extra responsibility and preparation it was also a great opportunity to show my head teacher I could handle the duty.

Make sure your school leaders know you are ready to take on these responsibilities.

 

  1. Gain experience

Our OTP candidates are getting the opportunity to get into a variety of learning spaces to see teaching and learning across the year groups (Primary and Secondary). These individuals will be able to apply this knowledge to their own practice, share with their colleagues and develop initiatives within their departments, schools and classrooms.

Take up any experience you are given. It will allow you to further develop your leadership skills.

 

Once you begin to take action at your school, you will be making a difference right away. Being part of the leadership team at your school gives you a great insight into decision making processes and how/why

Are you thinking about leadership at your school? What position are you hoping to take up? Do you have other advice for future leaders? Let us know and we’ll share your ideas in a future blog. You can email us a.harvey@haaf.org.uk