Lessons Learned #3: Don’t wear the cape

"I am here to help!"
“I am here to help!”

In the term before the not-so-brilliant Ofsted, I had a not-so-brilliant time. Like many teachers, I didn’t realise that things were going badly until, gasping, bleeding and burned I crashed into the Easter holidays.

Though I thought I recovered well, the effects of that term  were felt at the inspection and in some ways are still being felt now.

You see, as I blogged right at the start of this #lentblog, I think I’m a hero. I put on my cape and come dashing in to save the day. There are many issues to this approach, such as:

  • the fatigue from trying to be a hero when you’re not actually one;
  • taking away the ability of other people to solve their problems.
  • just imposing a solution without really listening to the problem, thereby making the problem worse;
  • moving on to another problem so quickly that you didn’t fix the first one, leaving people disappointed and so creating yet another problem.

I did all of that in the term before Ofsted.

There was a struggling Year 6 maths group. I took them on and tried to teach them. I had never done that sort of intervention from as late in the academic year as January. But I thought I could. I thought I could move them from the start of the old level 3 to the old level 4 in twelve weeks. I couldn’t as it turned out. But I thought I could, because I wore a cape. I was so arrogant I even blogged about it.

I was in charge of day-to-day staffing at the time. There were lots of staff off for various reasons during that term. Just creating the rotas for different PPA timetables each week was hard enough, but when I saw the impact of lots of different supply teachers on some classes, I decided I should intervene and teach them myself. I put on my cape. It was exhausting.

During that term my headteacher was training to be an Ofsted inspector. It meant he spent several days out of school. During that time I ran the school and dealt with all the stuff. But I would be fine I thought – I had a cape.

Did I also mention that I built my own data capture system out of a network or interrelated Google Spreadsheets that even had coloured boxes in. It looked fantastic. It was time consuming. But it would be fine – I had a cape.

And so it went on. The delusions of being a superhero.

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a colleague about stuff we needed to do to make things better and during the conversation I said, “don’t worry, I can do that.” It was to do with me teaching an additional group of children. My colleague said, “don’t you be putting that cape on again when your deputy role means you can’t actually keep the commitment.”

That’s when it struck home.

As a school leader it’s my job to help everyone in the school find their own cape, not wear my own to the detriment of others.

Image from: https://pixabay.com/en/superman-superhero-cape-sky-1016322/

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