SLT members I have worked with (as teachers)

Before I stopped being a manager (best decision I’ve made in a long time) observing colleagues had been part of my many roles for a long time. Many of the staff I have observed have been SLT. I thought I would summarize my conclusions here as the subject is being debated on OAs blog and timeline.

SLT as teachers broadly fall into categories in my experience that I will describe here:

Species 1

  • Bad teacher
  • Knows they’re a bad teacher
  • Good SLT member

A rare and elusive creature. This species can cause confusion because the poor teaching often disguises the leadership competence. Often mistaken for one of the other species. Some claim this variety of SLT does not exist.

Personally I have worked with one. Ironically he was in charge of CPD. He was very good. He looked at areas for improvement in observation feedback and paired staff up with someone who had that weakness (or something similar) as a strength. Where possible he made two way coaching and sent people on courses if there wasn’t anyone available to coach. The working parties (other than the behavior one) were effective and useful. His own weaknesses as a teacher made him sympathetic to the difficulties staff faced at the school. This was particularly true of those struggling with the truly dreadful behavior in the school. He was pleasant, approachable, supportive and good company down the pub. Cared deeply about the staff and pupils of the school. If there was anyone at the school able to bridge the pronounced divide between SLT and the staff it was this guy.

Species 2

  • Bad teacher
  • Knows they’re a bad teacher
  • Bad SLT member

This is a slightly more common variety (but still rare) in my experience. Generally tries to avoid interacting with children at all costs. Puts their needs above the needs of staff and pupils. Cares more about how they look than anything else. Often try to hide their inadequacies behind an arrogant and unpleasant facade. Completely unapproachable and a frequent source of new policies that are either impractical, counterproductive, unworkable or otherwise flawed.

Sometimes other varieties of SLT mutate into this one over time. This is particularly true in very challenging schools where good teachers and good SLT members can be ground down. It’s amazing how much working in a toxic environment can change you, lower your expectations of pupils. colleagues and yourself without you even realising it.

Species 3

  • Bad teacher
  • Thinks they’re a good teacher
  • Good SLT

The abominable snowman of the SLT world. I wouldn’t want to state definitively that this species doesn’t exist but I have never met one.

Species 4

  • Bad teacher
  • Thinks they’re a good teacher
  • Bad SLT

Rare in good schools but common in failing or dysfunctional schools. This species is most common when a school has a dictatorial headteacher. When I worked in a school where the HT did not tolerate dissent of any sort this sort of SLT proliferated. There was real bullying environment and promotions into SLT were made to “retain good staff”. When I asked in a governors meeting whether the “good staff” being retained were the most effective in terms of individual or departmental results the question was not answered. When I looked for myself I found that some of the least effective heads of department and least effective teachers were being promoted. When I asked one of my few friends on SLT shortly before she stood down why she told me that the HTs foremost concerns when appointing members of SLT were firstly that they be “pliable”, secondly that they enthusiastically support her ideology whatever policy is introduced and finally that they never give her any problems. The main feature of this variety of SLT want to make everything about them and how great they are or about making their own job easier.

This resulted in an atmosphere of bullying, backstabbing, back covering, buck passing and complete avoidance by uch of SLT of any difficult situation in case they couldn’t deal with it and had to take it to the HT.

Species 5

  • Good teacher
  • Thinks they’re a bad teacher
  • Bad SLT

This species is similar in behavior to species 2. Extremely rare in my experience.

Species 6

  • Good teacher
  • Thinks they’re a bad teacher
  • Good SLT

More common in good schools. Can be a perfectionist. Sometimes teaching a bit worse than in the past due to issues outside of school or having children. Sometimes thinking ill of themselves because other teachers in the school are better than them in some way. Occasionally lack of confidence makes them prickly and quick to anger or take offence. Puts pupils first, then staff then themselves.

Species 7

  • Good teacher
  • Knows they’re a good teacher
  • Bad SLT

One of the most common varieties of SLT in my experience. Common in both good and bad schools. Sometimes the reduced timetable results in selective memory when it comes to the amount of work teaching involves. I’m fully aware of the workload involved in doing an proper SLT job well. However not all SLT jobs are demanding (especially when the purpose of some is solely to “retain good staff”) and not everyone is that bothered about doing the job well. The variety can be arrogant and intolerant of those who do not share their “vision” or their view of what constitutes good teaching. Can be autocratic, short tempered and unapproachable. Sometimes SLT of this species believes that being a good teacher confers some sort of “rightness” on their policies and ideas and are quick to take personal offence if they are not agreed with. Very quick to tell you what you should be doing. Very slow to offer meaningful assistance when it is needed

Species 8

  • Good teacher
  • Knows they’re a good teacher
  • Good SLT

The most common variety of SLT in a decent school in my experience. They’re like gold dust in a dysfunctional school. Sadly over time they sometimes morph into species 4,5,6 or 7. Tend to make sensible, practical policies. They understand the workload implications of their policies. Approachable, helpful and open to respectful dissent/discussion. Tend to see their main job as creating an environment in which teachers can teach. Obviously they monitor, support and challenge but the focus is as much on support as challenge when staff are under performing.

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3 thoughts on “SLT members I have worked with (as teachers)

    1. bigkid4 Post author

      Sometimes one arrives, takes a look around, tries to change things, fails and swiftly disappears. Others stay, become embittered and become Species 7 or Species 3.

      Others are remnants of the decent school that existed before the school became dysfunctional. Often they applied for the job of HT and didn’t get it. They are now watching the new Head crash and burn with a weary resignation or an impotent fury. These tend to leave or stop caring.

      Reply

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