“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” Bill Gates
I have now been a head teacher for 4 years and 1 term and I still absolutely love it. But then, I also really loved teaching. When I moved out of the classroom into headship I said that I would trial it for a year and if I really didn’t like it then I would very happily go back to class teaching. I do still love it and I haven’t gone back-yet!
As a teacher, the bit I really liked the most was the relationship that I always had with my class. When you spend at least 5 hours a day with 30 children (or one exciting year a class of 38 children) and much more of each day thinking about those children then you grow to love them; well most of them; most of time. I loved knowing about them as individuals, knowing about their interests out of school and knowing about the group dynamics. In my first job, I stayed for 17 years so I also enjoyed leaning about and getting to know families. As a class teacher, you get constant feedback from your class. When what you are teaching is a bit dull, lots of children need the toilet, sharpen their
pencils or need a drink of water. In fact I honestly think that the quality of a lesson could sometimes be judged on these three things! On the other hand, when learning is going really well, children don’t want to go out to break, lunch or go home at the end of the day. This is part of the feedback you get as a teacher- the good and the not so good. You also get beautifully crafted cards and letters after wet play where despite having spent a year with your class they still can’t spell your name right or know the difference between your and you’re. I once had a letter saying “Your my bestest teacher cos you’ve learnt me lodes!” I loved this constant feedback and it helped me to love my job and always be looking for ways to improve.
As a head teacher, I really struggle with the lack of regular feedback. I still get some lovely letters from children and great emails from parents but it is not every day. Ofsted give feedback but only every four years – and that is not always the feedback you want. Therefore after listening to the amazing Steve Munby talk the other day, I decided that it was time to seek some feedback. I nervously asked all of the staff and Governors to email me with the answer to… “What am I like when I am at my best?” The responses I received blew me away. Not everyone replied but those that did have made me feel incredibly positive. Being a bit sad, I have collated their responses and when I have had a dodgy day I go back and re-read them. They make me smile, feel valued and feel loved. I then try really hard to be more like the person they appreciate. The overriding feedback was that I am at my best with a coffee in hand talking to people. These comments have got me out of my office more and more to ensure that I do exactly that. I spend more of every day wandering, talking and listening and I love it. I know what is going on more and I really love the people I spend my days with. One lovely member of staff actually said to me the other day-“Really, as teachers, we are like your class of children aren’t we!” Everyone is an individual and the better I know everybody and form positive relationships with all, the better our school will be. All of our staff come to school wanting to do the best job they can for the children in our care. My role is to be an ethical and effective leader who wants the same.
Really my job now isn’t that different to being a class teacher after all and I still love it. Especially when I have a coffee and I’m out and about.
Headteacher, St Anne’s Church Academy