Showing posts with label career progression. Show all posts
Showing posts with label career progression. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

New day, new job, first day jitters

For the first time in many years I start in a new job, with new people and a new context to apply my skills.  It's a bullet I should have bitten a fair time ago and so far I'm glad I did it.  For the first time in my career I walk away from an environment without leaving a big hole that is difficult to fill and hopefully on good terms.  Last year wasn't a bad year. I've been a Deputy for an extended period, I've come out relatively unscathed and I've won a great position in a new school.

As you get more senior in an environment, it's fairly normal to see divergence in what you think should be done and what the general consensus is.  If you tend to be less risk averse than the incumbent team, then the gap is likely to increase with time.  There are a number of main ways to deal with it.  You can roll with it, you can try to influence the decision makers or you can leave and find a new environment and bring your hard won skills with you.  The alternative is to stay, get stale and discontent.

I've tried the roll with it routine, it's not me and I get frustrated over time.  It's more my style to run a team, to understand the goals of the decision makers, influence the team to align with those goals and influence decision makers to align with what the team wants to achieve and measure the results.  My last role sat between the decision makers and staff and I spent a lot of time explaining and supporting decisions that I didn't always agree with and had no team to work with.  It's exciting to be back with a team and be able to do great things again.

With performance management, I work with staff to ensure that they don't feel stale.  What is the path to their ATAR class, do they want leadership opportunities, do they need support whilst their children are growing up, how are they travelling physically and mentally, do they need pedagogical, assessment or behavioural support, do they need support understanding the evidence base of their classes, are they looking for promotion, do their requirements align with the needs of our students and the school?  These are critical questions to ensuring that staff are engaged and have a clear career pathway to staying relevant in the system.

This time, I don't know if I have an enthusiastic team wanting me to succeed, but I'm guessing so as nearly all teaching staff are good people.  I will miss those that carried me through difficult times and believed that I could do it, even when I looked at a problem and thought how can I do all that!  Doing the impossible has been in my job description a few times in my career, looking at the stats of my new school, for a change, this does not appear the case.  I'll know more when I have more information at hand today.

I'm looking forward to doing the basics well.  Operational Plan, Performance Management, Compliance documents, Faculty Budget, Evidence base, Teaching and Learning.

I've prepped what I can, I've had a good break, everything seems to be aligning nicely.  Bring on that first day!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

So what comes next?

Career management is an interesting problem in education.  Back in the day, a five year plan was probably sufficient to guide a young teacher through the first steps in education.

Year 1 - survival.  It doesn't matter that you are doing long hours and are losing the will to live.  Find a good mentor.  Talk about your issues.  As the new cab off the rank, your classes are likely to suck and will be a mishmash of whatever the grid throws at you.  Don't complain.  Don't overcomplicate it.    The classes you've been given are impossible to manage properly so use every trick you can think of to connect with the students and stop them piling out the door and annoying student services.  Get on a CMIS Course and learn some low key strategies. Bubble with enthusiasm.  If the year was too traumatic and you caused too much chaos, quickly move to another school and don't make so many mistakes this time.  Resist the urge to relief teach unless you can't get a proper gig.

Year 2 - critical times.  Classroom management should now be in order.  If you haven't managed to annoy anyone, they should be feeling sorry for you after the horror story you were dealt in your first year.  With slightly better classes, start to get your resources in order and start understanding how content fits together.  Your eyes will be sunken into your face and you will look slightly haggard, that sinking feeling that you made a mistake and teaching isn't what you thought it would be will occur.  This is the hump.  Embrace it.. generally speaking it gets better from here, Year 3 will be easier.

Year 3 - content mastery.  If you are finally teaching the same class twice, you will be starting to see how the content fits together in a way teachable to your kids.  There will be bad days when you just want to do your job but the kids will just not do what they should.  Little buggers.  Now that you've been deemed competent, the evil bastard doing timetabling will give you a horror mix of classes.  You will laugh in his/her face and get through the year with a semblance of sanity remaining and possibly looking ten years older than you are.  All those people that told you year 3 was easier are also evil lying bastards.

Year 4 - What the F%$4 happened.  This is when you look back and can't remember the names of students from year 1 but things are looking up. Those evil lying bastards knew something that you didn't know. Something clicks and you realise that teaching is a bit formulaic after you have content and behaviour mastery and you can start doing things you had hoped possible in your first year.  A smile returns to your face (though it possibly cracks when you try for the first time in four years).  Understand where you sit in the queue of better classes / opportunities at the school.  Don't get sad if someone else gets something you want, just figure out how they did it and be ready for the next one.  If you haven't already, start asking for that ATAR class.  If that evil lying bastard is around, thank them for guiding you and ensuring that you are ok.

Year 5 - Get Out. If you are still in the same place, get your butt into application mode and seek a school with better conditions than the one you are in.  Get your resume and CV done.  Get involved in the 'write your selection criteria' meetings with Exec.  Understand what opportunities that exist that float your boat.  By doing this, the school sees potential and one of two things happen - either promotional opportunities occur locally, or you take all your new found skills elsewhere and start again on the same cycle (though hopefully shorter).  Check to see if that evil lying bastard is willing to referee for you and will tell others how you are the best thing that ever happened to the education system; hopefully they are your line manager.  Year 5 is the critical step for career progression, it refreshes your enthusiasm, provides challenge and is the basis of any 5 year plan.

Years 6-10.  Look at what you want to do next and start doing it in your current role.  Aspire to HOLA?  Work on programmes and get a place on the curriculum committee.  Take a praccie and practice those management skills.  Join the social, board or ball committee.  Be active and gather more advocates for your career.  Don't sit back and wait for it to happen.  Volunteer for that two week role, lead the student council, anything that makes that CV align with your next chosen role.  Do some interviews, get interview skills and your CV right.   Your first interview is likely to suck. You won't be ready for that role you really want if you don't do the hard work early.  Don't get stuck in a school unless there are serious opportunities for progression.  It's harder than Year 2 but more rewarding at times.  Beware giving up teaching student time (it's an easy trap to fall into) - it's the buzz in teaching, without it, you can start again to wonder where the satisfaction is, even if it is a bit easier.  Students may make your hair flame in burning angst but they are also why we enter into this thing.

After that you'll have to ask someone that has successfully navigated it.  I'm still figuring it out too, although on a fairly accelerated trajectory. Have fun!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Vocational vs career teachers

With teacher pay improving over the years, teaching is a competitive career with other professions.  A teacher can rapidly be on a six figure salary and be trained on an ongoing basis with career options going ahead.

The profession is changing from one which was fundamentally filled with vocational teachers, who entered teaching because they had a love of teaching and a desire to teach, to a profession with a mix of vocational teachers and those who enter it as a long term career, one of the few that are predicted to last for the next 20 years through technological change.

This is a not necessarily a bad thing, but it does raise a challenge for vocational teachers as they are vulnerable in the system.  By vocational teachers not targeting advancement, school run the risk of dissatisfied vocational teachers who are unaware of the gauntlet required for advancement - they will advance slower than career teachers.

For instance, a teacher focuses on their student cohorts and their craft.  Over many years they become a passionate and great classroom teacher.  They see a career teacher that is not as good a teacher, does not understand the craft required to become truly great at what they do but that has targeted the KPIs that are required for advancement.  The career teacher can talk eduspeak, self promote actively, are involved in projects that meet STAR objectives, actively seek promotional positions, understand how to write a CV and answer interview questions, have been at multiple schools over a short period - burn bright but over short periods.  Once the balance tips towards career teachers (are we there now? Panel training indicates we are!), this becomes the model for advancement.

The question I ask myself is does this help kids get better in classes?  Does this promote better mentoring of young teachers?

There's a little voice in the back of my head that says - "yep, but vocational teachers, the passionate ones can also be the flaky, argumentative, the most painful teachers to manage as they are needy and require constant guidance compared to the focused teachers on career progression."  And I hear you little voice, but when I look at exceptional student outcomes, being 50% in doesn't cut it compared to what some of these teachers can achieve.  An evidence base shows this over and over again.

Are we, by encouraging a career based approach, turning our vocational teachers away from their passionate, "this is my life", approach towards a more career based (I do this for the wage and the six hour day) sustainable and minimal intervention approach because it is easier to manage and less likely to cause management pain, even if the evidence shows that it has lower student outcomes?

If this is the case, and to a lesser or greater degree I believe it is,  we need to re-evaluate how we remunerate teachers and the merit system that in its current form is encouraging a change to a career workforce rather than a vocational one and that where career satisfaction is through advancement, not through student achievement.  A teacher for life, cared for by the system, developing their skills, recognised by the community for what they can do, moving passionately with changes in pedagogy required and realising that they are blessed for being involved with a system that guides our youth not for the career progression that they are not getting.

How to get teaching to that point is an interesting intellectual question.