Tagged: administration

Leadership vs. Management


School leadership positions require a lot of energy. In a way, people in school leadership positions are expected to operate a lot like a battery, to have an energy source of their own, to have a source of answers, to have a source of ideas, to have a source of solutions and to provide all of those things for everyone else around them at will.

Like all batteries, however, the energy eventually runs out.

One of the biggest drains on this energy are the people who consistently need managing. By managing, I mean the people who need constant persuasion to:

(a) do their job

(b) do their job properly

(c) do their job well

This management of people is particularly debilitating as it tends to be never-ending.

During his keynote speech at the IB Annual Conference a few years ago, Richard Gerver stated that he always tries to hire people who don’t need to be managed. The fact that so much energy can be conserved as a result of not having to do the three things listed above means that it can be converted into the energy of inspiration, which I see as:

(1) inspiring people to push their own boundaries

(2) inspiring people to challenge norms

(3) inspiring people to reimagine what their jobs are in the first place

Now, in most schools – as far as I am aware – there are people who don’t need to be managed and there are people who do. The ratios obviously depend on all sorts of factors, recruitment – as Richard points out – probably being Number 1. Sadly, however, the energy output involved in managing the ones who need managing leaves little left for those who don’t. Yet they have a different, but entirely equal, need to be inspired. To ignore them may be more of an omission for the well-being of the school than to ignore those who need managing.

Unfortunately, people in school leadership positions suffer from an inability to define their roles with any certainty. They¬†are referred to as “management”, “administration” or “leadership”. Implicit in the labels of “management” or “administration” is the perceived inevitability of having to get people to do their job. As long as people in those positions see themselves that way, that is what they will end up doing with most of their time and energy. It is also what everyone they are managing expects them to do too… leading to a disturbing culture of adult “learned helplessness”. Assuming that people in those positions were formerly teachers, one must also assume that the skills that led to them being promoted came from the management of students. Yet, we must surely be moving away from an educational culture based on the management of students. So, too, we should be moving away from a culture of having to manage teachers.

“Leadership” on the other hand, has entirely different connotations. Not always good ones, admittedly! But implicit in the idea of a leader is the ability to inspire. Again, assuming people in “leadership” positions were formerly teachers, we must also assume that the skills that led to them being promoted came from the inspiration of students.

I wonder how often this is truly the case?

And, when it is the case… how long can those people last until:

(a) they just become managers

(b) they give up

(c) they leave the profession


Header image from techpp.com




Seven Ways to Get the Best Out of Teachers

7 Ways

  1. Be interested. Show up in their room from time to time and see what they’re up to, just out of interest. Talk with them about learning, about students and about ideas. Make it clear that you are not only interested in how they teach, but also in teaching generally.
  2. Recognize their talents. Every teacher (yes, every teacher!) has a particular talent or strength. So much focus is placed on goals that are about developing your areas of weakness, getting better at some new initiative or doing your job better. Shift the focus as much as you can to show teachers you are aware of their talents and that other people are aware of them too.
  3. Have zero-tolerance of gossip or hearsay. Don’t allow other people to shape your judgments of teachers, and make it very clear you don’t act upon anything other than your own first-hand knowledge about them. Make sure teachers are totally confident that you know them, know how they work and base your opinions of them purely on those factors. That way they will know praise is genuine, criticism is constructive and both come directly from you.
  4. Teach. You are probably in your position because you were recognized as a good teacher and then removed from the classroom… ironic eh? Well, make it one of your priorities each week to get back in the classroom. You could cover a lesson, team-teach with someone or run a session. Your staff will respect you for it and, if you really were a good teacher, learn a great deal from you!
  5. Bring people together. Many problems in schools come fom poor relationships between teachers. Little pods form and cliques gather. This will only worsen if you don’t actively seek lots of opportunities to get people talking, to break people out of their patterns and break down any misconceptions people may start to get about each other.
  6. Give them time. The best way to show you value something, or someone, in schools is to give it or them time. Make it clear that you understand the negative relationship most schools have with time, and take obvious steps to give people time to work on things.
  7. Play. People who move into leadership positions often start to take themselves too seriously and forget to be playful, with both kids and adults. Share jokes with teachers, play harmless pranks, be silly, let down your guard. Students value the teachers who behave this way, and teachers value the leaders who behave this way.