At this time of year, many people find themselves a week or so into their perennially well-intentioned new year’s resolutions.
How many of these evolve into a genuine change in our behaviour and become a staple part of our way of life? We might find some short-term benefit from sticking to these resolutions for a month or two, but we all know that many will fall by the wayside as the frenetic pace of life takes over.
I have challenged my team of staff to pick one aspect of their job that they want to be better at and have this as their school new year’s resolution – and try and stick to it.
A few teachers have approached me to say “what do you think we’ve been doing all this time?” – and they have a point, but I’m not talking about an appraisal target or CPD or even something related to an improvement plan.
What I am talking about is each of us taking time to consider something that we would love to be able to do, but we just don’t have the time – something that would make us better at our jobs, and ultimately something that will benefit the young people we are privileged to work for.
A number of members of staff have shared their resolutions with me, and the best ones have been the most simple.
One of the senior leadership team has said that they want to have more one-to-one conversations with people and communicate less via email. This is a great idea – we rely far too much on email communication and undoubtedly messages get lost in translation, which can often result in tensions between staff.
One of the NQTs has explained that now she has got her first term under her belt, she wants to get to know her students better. Again, this is an easy thing that anyone can do, regardless of their career stage, and is unquestionably one of the most effective ways of developing positive relationships with students.
My favourite so far has been from one of the middle leaders, who has identified focusing on the leadership aspect of their role. They explained that they often feel compromised by a lack of time and that the relentless pace of day-to-day school life often gets in the way of them being able to focus on the strategic leadership of their department and team.
As part of their new year’s resolution they are dedicating specific times during the week to the parts of their job that they have neglected in the autumn term due to overly focusing on operational tasks.
Although this prioritising is a relatively simple organisational task, I think it will help them become a more effective and reflective leader.
So what about my school new year resolution? As a new headteacher, I have felt like I have been in a perpetual cycle of self-reflection during the autumn term and as a result I have been constantly evaluating how I am working and the impact that my leadership is having.
However, one thing that I have definitely neglected during my first term of headship has been the amount of professional reading I have been able to do.
Thankfully my family and friends know I’m a bit of a bookworm and I received a good few books that I am looking forward to getting stuck into.
Whatever new year’s resolution my staff have picked, I’m hoping that we can use them to make ourselves better teachers and deliver an even better experience for our students.
SecEd’s headteacher diarist is in his first year of headship at a comprehensive school in the Midlands.