Development training is the key for a successful career

16th Jun 2017

This blog is more aimed at teachers than parents but I hope it is applicable to both as the key message is one which probably resonates across various industries.

Reflecting on the past six or seven years of Headship experience I find myself increasingly aware that staff tend to be equally split between those who are genuinely career minded and aim for promotion, those who simply love their current jobs and quite rightly want to focus exclusively on that passion and perhaps a third group who are undecided and could be easily swayed between one or the other.

I suspect many work places are the same. Staff development opportunities, at least in the education industry, have tended to focus too much on off-site day courses and one off inset training sessions. Rather, teachers, and the management teams around them, are increasingly prioritising career planning for their staff. They understand that developing great leaders requires time and a broad approach to development.

Equally, I am increasingly aware of the need to find non-career development opportunities for those colleagues who love teaching. This is a great part of working at an independent school and something our own professional development strategies at Radnor are increasingly tapping into.

For those that want to climb the ladder I'm very much of the belief that there are certain generic qualities all great leaders tend to possess - resilience, high levels of communication skills and vision - but that these qualities can be taught and improved over the years if the person is willing to be honestly and critically self reflective.

For this group of teachers who want to take on more responsibility, my advice is usually to start reading and then start studying and then start applying these ideas.

Reading - Having a finger on the latest theories and ideas puts you in a stronger position to deal with the ambiguities of the job. Professional teachers should be research led and by extension successful school leaders should be aware of the latest management theories. Avoid the typical arrogance of the education industry which has for years ignored the lessons of business and management. We're in a service industry so understand how the best service providers across the globe operate and try to apply their lessons.

Studying - teachers are professionals just like lawyers, doctors or architects. Post graduate study is a very important part of the job and the range of courses available is extensive. From Masters in Education and Leadership to mentoring opportunities and everything in between, most good schools now actively promote training opportunities as a means of up-skilling their workforce.

Applying - putting all of this into action is the hard part and my advice is to practise the ideas you learn from reading and studying each and every day. If you've been researching the latest differentiation theory then try it out in your next class. If your mentor has given you some techniques for developing empathy and emotional intelligence then try them out when you are next in a meeting.

One thing to remember is that your working life tends to be quite long and drawn out so any opportunity you can take to reinvent yourself is certainly worth investigating. Schools want their staff to excel so encourage them to help you grow professionally.