Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Know Where You Are in the Pecking Order

The staff hierarchy in schools can be confusing for newcomers. But as Gerald Haigh explains, there are some subtle shades of seniority and points of protocol that NQTs would do well to bear in mind.
1 Be clear about who is in charge of you in your various roles. If you’re a form tutor, your ‘boss’ for that area might be the head of year. But if you’re also a subject teacher, you will report to the head of that subject. So make sure you know who is supposed to run what.
2 Listen to your leaders. Yes, you’re bursting with much better ideas and you can’t wait to interrupt, but contain yourself. When the moment comes, ask the right questions and show that you understand what’s going on and what the issues are.
3 Don’t skip stages in the hierarchy. The next person up from your subject leader may be a faculty head or a deputy. You may hate the subject head and love the deputy, but you shouldn’t leapfrog to the deputy to try to alter a decision or settle differences. The deputy will most probably support your immediate manager and your stock might go down.
The above point does not mean that you can’t recruit the top brass to your cause if you have a project that’s not making progress. Wait for the head or deputy to ask how things are going then say “Fine, next term I’m hoping Mr S will let me…”
5 Your manager have right to tell you what to do. That might not seem too obvious if you’re straight out of college, where instructions are usually regarded as open to argument. So if the deputy says “Can you please go and supervise playtime.” Don’t come back with, “Yeah, man let me just grab a coffee…”
6 Try to develop an ear for the subtle shades of meaning to be found in some management phrases. For example, comments such as “You might try this..”or “That might be OK, but it might be better to…” are usually meant as instructions.
7 Do you feel you’re being bullied? Maybe you are, but maybe you’re just not used to acting on instructions from more senior staff. If you think a manager is ill-treating you there are established procedures for making a complaint. Find out what they are and stick to them. If you think you have a grievance, contact your professional association and make dated notes of particular incidents. Vague complaints about attitudes won’t wash.
8 Don’t monopolise or suck up to the senior management. Even if this approach has some short term influence, it will go down like a lead balloon with other staff and won’t win you many friends among the rest of your colleagues.
9 If you want a serious talk with a manager, don’t rely on catching them in the corridor or at break. Ask for a date and time – maybe after school. Make notes on what you want to say.
10 Managers and mentors can often be reticent in voicing criticism, so you might come away form a briefing (after a lesson observation for example) no wiser than when you went in. Always pin them down by asking ‘What exactly do you mean’.
Source: http://newteachers.tes.co.uk/news/know-where-you-are-pecking-order/45715

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