When counselling, aim for balance. Offer commmendations for development and things being done well, along with suggestions and recommendations for improvement. Build confidence in colleagues.
It is saddening that schools are increasingly regarded and defined as being ‘businesses’. This places emphasis on management and detracts from the human aspect of what they should be about. Children.
REJOICE FOR OTHERS
Life tends to be all about us an individuals wanting to get on, make progress and be recognised for the contributions we make to the educational profession. Ambition is important. So too, is recognising the contributions of others and rejoicing in their successes. It seems that the urge to make individual indelible impressions can cause us to look inward. We need to look outward, recognising and rejoicing in what our superordinates, peers and subordinates are achieving. Part of this should be our desire to contact and congratulate them on their successes and c ontributions.
Envy and jealously are traits that too often manifest themselves within the human character. As educators we need to be above that, genuinely appreciating what others are contributing to education, the noblest of all professions.
‘CRC’ A POSITIVE METHOD OF STAFF DEVELOPMENT
We need to consider bouquets and brickbats in ratio terms. When counselling with staff and when working with others on terms of staff development, it is easy to offer ‘recommendations’ for improvement. Sometimes the tone which goes with the recommendation is very opoff-puutting. It is easy to be harsh and critical. When working with colleagues, the CRC method is invaluable.
CRC suggests we offer commendation, recommendation and commendation. The suggested ratio is three commendations to each recommendation. Offer compliment as well as advice. This is not to suggested that recommendations should be sugar coated. However, they need to be palatable, not indigestible.
Building our organisational teams is about appreciation as well as advice for needed improvements. Like most things in life, counselling and staff development should be a question of balance.
ON THE BALCONY AND THE DANCE FLOOR
Good leaders need to have a wide lens. They need to be on their organisation’s balcony looking down upon and seeing those who keep things ticking. They need to be aware of relationships, both formal and informal. Overview is important.
They also need to be on the dance floor, spending time and mingling with their staff. They need to know their people. They need to be doers as well as sayers. It’s fine to talk the talk; Walking the walk generates appreciation and respect from those involved with the school, the company, the business whatever its nature. Leaders who lead empathetically draw positive responses and willing contributions from the staffing team.
APPRECIATION ALSO NEEDS TO BE INTRINSIC
In all professions, including teaching, much is made of monetary reward. That is about basic human nature. In these modern times, the age old adage ‘a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay’ still applies. But people also value intrinsic rewards, that signal of appreciation and a pat on the back that somehow ‘adds value’ and a deep-seated feeling of well-being to the way people feel about the work they are doing. Appreciation enriches engagement and the glow of recognition stays with the receiver for a long time.
As a leader or a teacher it is important to avoid ‘looming’ over others. The impact of ‘standing above’ or ‘looming’ over those with whom we are dealing can be quite off-putting. Although not intended to be such, that postural attitude can also be a threat.
To avoid unintended intimidation, those in a superordinate position (principals or school leaders to teachers, teachers to students) should aim for a setting that places them at the same height as their subordinates. For a teacher to sit or kneel next to students with whom he or she is working, is physically levelling and not off-putting to students. Similarly, if school leaders conduct interviews with teachers and school staff while they stand or sit together, conversation will be more relaxed and possibly less stilted.
The consequences of looming are unintended but can leave a negative impression in the minds of those who have been loomed over.
Our facial expressions and quality of eye contact can draw people in or push people away. That can make a big difference to the way our conversations are received and the impact they have on others.
If promises are made to peers or students by leaders and teachers, they need to be kept. To forget or overlook promises will result in a loss of respect for the person who fails to keep his/her word.
FALSE ALLEGATIONS LEAVE PERMANENT SCARS
These days it has become somewhat of a fashion to levy accusations against people for offences allegedly committed by them in years past. Specifically, allegations of sexual impropriety, misconduct or abuse seem to abound. While some complainants have a legitimate case and while those who indulge or have indulged in such behaviour need to be brought to account, there seems to be an epidemic of fallacious, mischievous and malevolent reporting.
While the matters after investigation may resolve and be found to have no substance, allegations have a huge impact the accused, so much so that the accused becomes the victim of the piece.
Whatever the reason for the reporting mischief, it has a deadly impact upon the psyche, inner feelings and wellbeing of the person against whom accusation is made. This impacts on the accused, affecting feelings of physical wellbeing and mental equilibrium. Although not guilty of sin the accused would feel like an abomination because these sorts of allegations cut very deeply.
Depending on occupation, a person being investigated will have various authorities (ie Registration Boards) being notified of the inquiry and processes suspending that person’s right to participate in employment will be instituted while the inquiry in under way. A significant field of people probably know about this ‘highly confidential’ matter. Teachers if still active are declined the right to continue teaching at the moment and registrations would be suspended.
Given the present climate and the plethora of commissions that are dealing with historical cases of child abuse, matters can be alleged many years after they supposedly happened. Very few people keep diaries and records of daily transactions going back years and years and years so refutation is based on memory. My strong recommendation to school principals, leadership team members and teachers is to keep a record of daily transactions with students and take it with you from appointment to appointment, then with you when retiring. Some allegations are THAT old.
It is a worry that words and actions of school leaders and teachers can be misconstructed, wrongly interpreted and brought back, at times with malice, on innocent acts and sincere statements.
No-one should sin against children and students. Neither should false and malicious allegations be countenanced with little if any comeback against false accusers. No matter how false allegations are found to be, mud sticks, careers are ruined by these falsehoods and the mental health of those falsely accused is impaired, often fatally.