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Coaching for middle leaders in schools

Coaching for school middle leaders

When does 1+1+1 = 5

The value of bench marking is that it puts the spot light on things that are going well, and enables a reflective view on whether or not the product or service in question has value, or could be applied in another – possibly – our ‘context’.

What therefore would a commercial organisation do if a new team was formed or it had a new member join an existing team? It would recognise the need to set up a process to achieve the following outcomes. A group of people who:

  • have integrated into a cohesive team,

  • collectively makes decisions well,

  • has high levels of trust,

  • handle differences of opinion effectively

  • are clear about their individual and shared areas of responsibility and accountability

  • have establish a consensus about the key objectives that they have to achieve

These are outcome that a school’s SMT leaders would value in their middle leader team. However, away days and team building events are costly to schools, particularly when staff have to be covered in their absence. In reality, left to their own devices, many school middle leader teams establish themselves well; inevitably some team members have experience of how to produce high performing teams and understand both the theory and practice of how to form and maintain group cohesion and effectiveness.

In today’s time pressured environment, with new and existing Multi Academy Trusts putting groups together for a host of different reasons – the risk of not creating effective teams is high:

L poor morale,

L lack of integration between subject departments, L inconsistent application of key policies such as use of phones in the classroom, detentions etc.,

L poor decision making, L and lack of creativity,

all of which lead to a lack of confidence in their collective skills and their ability to achieve the outcomes they have been set.

Much has been written about how a thriving middle leader team can add such value to a school, it not only provides a useful communication conduit from teaching and support staff to the SMT, it:

  • acts as a pool from which creative solutions emerge for challenging curriculum problems

  • helps raise levels of progress and attainment, particularly with disadvantaged pupils

  • supports the implementation of policy changes

  • ensures the consistency of good teaching

  • maintains the efficiency of the planning process

  • helps keep the tiller on the school’s moral purpose

  • demonstrates resilience and courage

and above all it provides the essential experience so necessary for younger aspiring leaders who are eager and want to learn, develop and progress.

Team coaching is increasingly seen as a cost effective tool to maintain and develop team member skills. As a process, it can ensure that the team achieves a level of performance far quicker than if the team was left to its own devices, and it significantly reduces the risk of the team not performing well.

The success of the a period of team coaching within schools, lies once again in identifying the success factors associated with the process; these include team members developing the interpersonal skills to:

  • Challenge in an exploratory fashion within a spirit of seeking understanding

  • Contribute effectively when making decisions

  • Listen from a non-judgemental point of view

  • Creatively manage significant differences of opinion

  • Present their points of view openly, knowing that any critique is coming from the perspective of wanting to achieve the best outcome for children

  • Integrate the needs of various different stakeholders within the school environment

When this is in place, and the key word here is not ‘if’, but ‘when’ since coaching has a solid track record of achieving what it sets out to do, team member will use these skills and to collaborate effectively, build meaningful ‘work’ relationships, understand perspectives other than their own, communicate clearly and honestly at a deep level, and maintain a focus on their core outcomes.

It is this synergy that explains why 1+1+1 =5: each team member creates something extra when they work in this way with another member of staff, so that the total is greater than the sum of the parts.

We live in a period of constant change; the ability to establish, develop, and empower their middle leader teams can help a school progress from good to outstanding.

If you are interested in finding out more about developing your school’s middle leaders contact us here.

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