Sunday, 12 January 2014

Dealing with the awkward teacher

John Beighton once told me that he'd never met a teach who wanted to ruin a student's education. It is something I remember as a middle manager and leader.

At your senior management interview you were probably asked how you would deal with an awkward member of staff, and due to advice from colleagues, feedback from failed interviews and reading a few choice management books you know the answer.

So, why is the awkward person you were asked about still awkward? Possibly even more so.

Have you tried to listen?
Have you showed compassion?
Have you tried to empower?
Have you laid down the law? And I mean stood your ground when you feel you are right.
Have you included this person?
Do you understand the source of their frustrations and awkwardness?
Have you tired to model for them why you think they are wrong?
Have you wondered why they aren't isolated in their thinking and are able to take other staff with them in their dissent?
Have you praised that person personally? Have you praised that person publicly? Have you praised that person at all?
Have you found anything good in what they do?
Have you listened to them?
Have you shown any empathy to them at all?

Have you really done all the strategies you talked about in your interview and read about in your books? Or instead you have ignored that person, gone around them, been frustrated that they can undermine you so easily, so have resorted to a level of bullying?

Consider, that person is probably lacking in confidence, frustrated and consider that this person probably cares passionately about their school and their students. Otherwise, why fight you?

Maybe, just maybe, your awkward character is one of the best teachers to walk into a classroom. Maybe, just maybe, your management and the management of your predecessor has destroyed that person's confidence. Maybe, just maybe, including that person by listening to them, praising them and recognising their strengths and expertise, and then involving them fully in a project will start to bring that person around. And maybe, just maybe, after some time that person will be a real asset to your school.

Or maybe you should just continue to waste your time and energy being frustrated with them.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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