Session 336: Dealing with the SLT

Thursday 12th January 2017

You can be lucky and work with an inspiring group of leaders who have a clear vision, strategy, and are supportive with your work and idea. Some School Leadership Teams (SLT) value, trust and support their staff whereas, sadly, there are those within the SLT who appear like they are like a fish out of water (idiom).

Following on from the #UKEdChat poll (see results by clicking here), the chat session this week explored experiences of dealing with the SLT, and the different characters that rule their positions.

Aimed at school leaders and teachers, the session asked:

  1. What do you consider are the main roles and duties for SLT staff?
  2. Have you ever been inspired by SLT members who truly knew the best vision for all in your school? Share.
  3. What negative examples of SLT behaviour have you witnessed in your career?
  4. What are the greatest challenges for staff who are (or want to become) part of the SLT?
  5. What do you think are the most onerous duties of being part of the SLT?
  6. Three words: What are they key qualities that members of the SLT should possess?
Were you unable to join the chat? Please scroll down to add your comments, that can be added and considered with the community during the chat.


Summary

The discussion began with participants talking about their idea of what main roles and duties were for SLT staff. There seemed to be a mismatch between what they should be and what the reality actually seems to be in many cases. Many people said that their SLT were superb, supportive and champion their efforts in the classroom and beyond. UKEdChatters also spoke about SLT who made life very difficult and had a negative effect on learning. This lead to a discussion about how much leader should ‘filter’ unpalatable things from classroom teachers with two schools of thought: Teachers should be protected from the worst of that which comes from upon high; teachers need to deal with unpalatable things so they are prepared if they decide to move into management. Naturally, the latter assumes that all teachers wish to gain the lofty highs of senior leaders.

The discussion turned to inspiration, whether school leaders inspire you, and even whether this is wanted? There were many views, but one could generalise by saying that there are many inspirational leaders out there, many of which are in UKEdChatters’ own schools, but few people can can inspiring all the time, especially when people are ‘firefighting’ and getting bogged down in the day to day problems of running a school. Doing this day after day sound inspirational to me!

Next participants discussed barriers to entering the SLT. Many people expressed that they may feel out of their depth and not wanting that level of responsibility. Others were worried about the relationship with their colleagues would change. Experienced SLT members offered reassurance on both of these accounts. But the biggest fear for those moving out of the classroom into non-teaching roles was that they would lose that special connection with the pupils.

The discussion turned to what onerous duties the SLT have to preform. The answers largely fell into two categories: overseeing behaviour of pupils and picking up the pieces when thing go wrong; Performance management of staff. It was interesting to note that a few UKEdChatters in SLT said that performance management was one of their favourite duties, but you need to make it non0-onerous and make it about helping staff to improve, not catching mistakes which was a common notion from others in the chat.

Lastly, we asked for three words to describe the key qualities that members of the SLT should possess. The suggestions were diverse, so our three words are ‘check the archive’, but ‘understanding’, ’empathy’ and ‘supportive’ were all mentioned by many. I think we had each of these in tonight’s UKEdChat.

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