It’s easy to be angry!
You know when someone says “it feels like you have been here for ages” after you have only been working at a new place for a couple of weeks, this is what happened to me and I took it as a compliment. Four months on, I really feel that I am getting to know people better and understand their personalities a lot better.
When I left headship for the first time, I worked in schools all around the country using a psychometric tool, called Packtypes, to help people understand one another and hence improve the way they communicated to each other. I now have that system engrained in my head and use it every day to help filter the way people behave.
What is it you use?
Sometimes people ‘fly off the handle’ because of the way someone else behaved or what they said. Agreed, some things are hurtful, but what is your filter? What process do you go through before you make a judgement and respond?
I tried to instill this in my teenage daughter 5 years ago when I gave her a frame for Christmas with a quote in it, that said:
‘Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the
right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the
right purpose, and in the right way - that is not easy.’
We are always trying to provide children in school with a ‘filter’ to help them deal with those children that are different to them or behave in a way that they don’t understand. Our hope is that they become more emotionally intelligent so that they can deal with conflict and situations outside school.
With this in mind, I have asked Miss Taylor to look carefully at the Personal Development and Well Being of all our pupils in more detail next term. How are we really preparing them for life beyond CTK? She is perfect for this as I consider her a very emotionally intelligent person who deals with things in a calm and appropriate manner.
As I write this, it is the last day of term and we are all exhausted, children and adults! However, I am still excited about next term. Our school is an exciting place at the moment and we have such great plans. It is time to reboot the body and mind and surge on again.
And, as someone who relaxes with a small glass of wine, listening to music, around my family this Christmas, I will always dwell on the quote:
‘I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, but if it runs out I’ll drink the red!’
Merry Christmas everyone.
Attitude vs Behaviour
“So much in life depends on our attitude. The way we choose to see things and respond to others makes all the difference.”
(President Thomas S. Monson)
You can’t see inside people’s heads!
What I mean by that is that whilst people may seem happy on the outside, pleased and content with life, there may be turmoil, confusion or anxiety inside. Sometimes we can put on a front, whether it be for the people we care about or to hide our views on something.
Recently I sent a questionnaire out to parents and pupils to try and get an insight into what was in their heads regarding their experiences at, and views towards, the school. I also held three parent forums to give opportunities for face to face feedback. Whilst, I was a little disappointed by the number of responses, it nevertheless gave me a really good insight into what parents and pupils are thinking and their attitude towards the school.
The truth of the matter is that you can’t change someone’s attitude, only they can do that. It is the one thing we totally control in life. It’s what the prisoners and victims of the Holocaust said the Nazis would never get from them during the Second World War. Our attitude is our own, we dominate it 100% and we decide our own opinion on things. As a staff, we will do everything we can to help you decide that this is a great school. We will provide you with positives and successes that allow you to form your own opinion on CTK. Over time we hope that any uncertain attitude that you may have had in the past, will slowly turn to a secure and comfortable feeling that our school is perfect for your children.
Behaviour on the other hand can be changed and controlled by others.
As a school we insist on certain behaviours to keep our pupils safe, e.g. not running down corridors. However, most of the behaviours we want the pupils to display we want them to do because they want to, because their attitude tells them to. Because they think it is the right thing to do and not because adults tell them to. When we have pupils taking ownership of their own behaviour and not waiting to be told how to behave, then we will know that their attitudes are spot on.
Our Golden Rules help pupils understand what constitutes a good attitude towards learning. They provide guidance on appropriate behaviour in school. We recognise them but we don’t reward them like we do house points. The prize or reward they receive is intrinsic to each of them – it’s personal satisfaction that they should feel, expecting nothing more. Understanding how to persevere, be resilient, kind, and honest, listen and concentrate are the building blocks that will help every child succeed in life.
'The CTK Way'
Having been influenced by working in education, sport and the corporate world during my professional career, I have come to understand that having a USP (Unique Selling Point) is crucial if you want to stand out from the competition. When I have asked staff in schools this question (What is your USP?), the usual answer is that they are caring, supportive and make sure the children are happy. The only problem with that is that you would be hard pushed to find a school that doesn’t value those things as well, so by default, that makes you like every other school!
Our USP is part of our identity, it’s the icing on the cake. Let me explain what I mean by that. When parents of the children in our school are asked by someone that doesn’t know the school; “What are the schools like around here?” The most important part of the response will be the third statement:
"My children go to Christ the King Primary School.
They really enjoy it there.
Do you know, they are the only school that ……………."
During the last academic year, the worry would be that the third statement would be a negative one. Is that still the case? I would hope that this term has shown glimmers of hope and a taste of things to come.
I have started the process of searching for our USP by introducing something called ‘The CTK Way’. This allows us to do things the way we think should be done, not necessarily like everyone else. By taking this approach you allow the staff to own what they create, rather than just copy something off the shelf and expect them to know it inside out. The more we own, the stronger our identity becomes and then one or two things start to develop faster than the others. These one or two things will form our USP.
As my first Head Teacher Blog, I wanted to first explain how I see these working. These blogs are a little more informal than the newsletters and the correspondence we may normally have. The blogs will reflect my thoughts and opinions, some of which you may disagree with, which is fine, but they will reflect my style of doing things.
I hope you will allow me some level of self-indulgence as I use analogies from my experiences in sport to put my points across. Leadership skills and attributes are transferable across many fields and the principles can be applied to a variety of settings. My first example of this, is the way we approach improving CTK:
‘Focus on the way we play the game
and the scoreboard will look after itself’.
This is a common term used in sport and helps people focus in times of intense competition. We are developing a great game plan here at CTK and are currently working on a ‘sustainable formula’ that will develop our school significantly; which both adults and pupils are starting to buy into it. I have heard some very positive comments recently and none of them mentioned the scoreboard (Ofsted)!
If what we are doing is right at the moment, then Ofsted ‘will look after itself’. As soon as we focus on inspections and grading we’ve taken our eye off the game. Focusing on embedding positive practices across the school that inspire and motivate our pupils and staff, are the things that matter. The staff are the most important factor in determining your child’s development, so they need to focus on doing their job as well as they can and not worry about the bigger picture; that’s my job!
How do I ensure we are focused on the game?
Every week I try to gauge the temperature around school. I don’t mean how hot or cold it is; although I did moan to Patsy the other day that the heating needed to be on! I mean how happy the children are, how motivated the staff are, how pleased the governors are. The emails I have received from parents, the comments to our staff and the smiles on the children’s faces tell me that we have started on the right track.
But nothing is taken for granted and I recognise that this journey is more of a marathon than a sprint. This is why we are striving to make improvements every day and implement the things that add value to our school.