I have been saying for almost a year now that I would start to blog as a way of reflecting on my own experiences during the first few years of senior leadership – today I finally sat down and set things up. The point of it….essentially to stop and think, I have written odd bits and pieces as a way of recalling significant events that happened in my first year but that was more of a daily jotting rather than something that forces me to organise my thoughts, thematically sorting each learning event in a way that might actually have more use. Life can, as we all know, become incredibly busy, there is always another email to read or the next bit of marking nagging at the back of my mind which I often allow to stop me from sitting and thinking. However, taking time to do just that – think – is vitally important if I am now to do my role effectively. Of course, emails need answering and marking must be done as well as possible but without creating time to step back and reflect or look forwards, the strategic part of the leadership role I now have lessens. As I write, we are in the eighth week of lockdown and awaiting the announcement from the PM about any possible easing of restrictions. In future blogs I will come back to the learning that’s taken place throughout this time, for now I will just put some structure to the blog and hope that whoever reads it finds something that will help them as they embark on their own senior leadership journey.
Before I moved to my current school and position, I asked colleagues what they thought made an effective senior leader and the answer I received on many occasions was to be approachable – this has stuck with me and I hope that I have managed to honour this with those I now lead. As a way of starting the reflections that I will add to over future blogs – the key thing I have learnt is to give people time, to listen and be someone others feel able to talk to if they need a sounding board or advice. A lot of my day is spent meeting with middle leaders or being in classrooms as I conduct learning walks, watching and learning, enjoying the amazing teaching and learning that is taking place. I am someone who is quite task focused, I like to have a list and tick things off so a day of being available and meeting with folk doesn’t always feel that I have accomplished much but actually it is a vital part of my role and one that I must invest it. I have started to put into my calendar ‘learning walk’ or conversations with particular staff so that I don’t overlook it and create time to just be ‘available’ and hopefully approachable.