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How to lead behaviour from the middle – PP26

The topic of the week is How to lead behaviour from the middle.


middleThis week we were delighted to be joined by Pivotal Trainer and middle leadership specialist, Darrell Williams.   The most important cog in the wheel when driving improvement in school is the middle leadership. Darrell calls the middle leadership the engine room of sustainable change and stresses that effectiveness comes from middle leaders as well as all teaching staff having learning in the centre of what they do. If the impetus comes from the senior leadership team, that cannot create consistency, it just becomes another thing to be ticked off.

Darrell WilliamsDarrell asks the question, “is your department a ‘performance department’ where the most important thing is results or is it all about learning?” If it’s about performance you become risk averse and keep doing what you have always done rather than developing. Paul mentions co-teaching and, where this is done with middle managers, it becomes very powerful. It’s very important for middle leaders to lead by example and when they co-teach with others in the faculty it sends a ripple and ends up with individual teachers sharing the same ethos they have received from their middle managers with their own students – it becomes part of the culture. Paul calls this ‘leading by proper example’ and ‘leading with humility’. He stresses the importance of your ability as at echer being at the core of the job of middle managers, even if they feel they need to dress more smartly when they have been promoted! It’s essential that middle leaders don’t fall into the trap of feeling they need to be a more aggressive, public force but rather modelling all the positive behaviour management processes and techniques such restorative practice. Middle managers can transform their team through the use of positive notes for staff and other small acts of appreciation. In a recent survey Paul mentions, only 37% of staff said they had been recently been given positive recognition by their line-managers. The best schools use the same positive approaches with learners and staff. Darrell mentions a school he worked in which was in special measures. They came out with the behaviour mantra of ‘Kind, courteous, smart, successful’. Rather than just noticing this in the students, some staff pointed out that they would also like to be recognised for these concepts. As Darrell puts it, this ‘brought the smile back’ and the whole staff began to feel much more positive as they walked into classrooms, deliberately mentioning how smart their colleagues looked, which was bound to make them successful. The banter and atmosphere rubbed off on the students.

“If you want change to happen, be the change yourself.”

Good middle managers try not to pass problems up to the senior management. Of course some things to do with safeguarding, for example, must be passed up but middle managers who take responsibility for behaviour and learning and trust their staff to deal appropriately with most behaviour management issues are most effective in the role. Senior leaders should be using their time to deal with the most serious issues and need the support of middle managers to preserve this time. Otherwise the system can get clogged up with minor issues. The best middle leaders regard themselves as a filter. Paul wonders why middle leaders often don’t have the same level of high expectations as head teachers. Why shouldn’t middle leaders have the aspiration that their department become world class? Announcements: TeachMeet London Bus! Pivotal Education are sponsoring the first ever TeachMeet to take place on a London Bus. Tickets are available for 12th March, 2014. New free iPad App! Be the first to download and use this amazing new app! Students love using the Pivotal Progess Sliders app on iPads to track their progress during lessons. You can also save progress and return to it in the next lesson. Brand new 5 Minute Assessment for Learning Plan released in collaboration with TeacherToolkit Events

  • Magnificent Cultures of Teaching and Behaviour – deconstructing excellent practice – 12th March 2014 featuring Paul Dix and Phil Beadle and including an education debate at the end of the day

What would you like to hear covered in forthcoming episodes? Let us know by emailing or by leaving a comment below this post.

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