Moving out of the classroom – Transitioning from teaching into management
Arran Williams, October 6, 2016
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For many teachers, the difference you can make in the classroom is what drew you into the profession in the first place. The prospect of working directly with pupils, whatever the age, and helping them develop, learn and grow got you through the years of hard work and study.
Whilst this may have motivated you at the start of your career, you may now well see a move out of the classroom as a natural progression. This will often come from a desire for more responsibility, influence on a grander scale; and I’m sure that bit of extra cash at the end of each month won’t hurt.
People often underestimate just how much of a transformation a move from teaching into management can be. You’ve developed a firm understanding of teaching so how hard could it be to manage teachers?
However, success in a management role requires a significant change in approach and whole different way of thinking.
The bigger picture
As a teacher, you are responsible for the achievements and development of the students you teach. Through teaching, you directly influence this which provides you with a degree of control.
Whatever the extent of your promotion, chances are that the scope of your responsibility will have widened significantly. Whether you are now responsible for a year set, a department or part of, or even the whole, school, you will have to look at achievement, or lack thereof, in a different way.
The focus must shift from the individual and onto the group. Rather than having direct influence on the pupils themselves, your spotlight will now fall on members of staff and their performance.
As you make this transition, seek the help of your new peers. Those that have made the exact change that you are making will be a valuable source of advice and guidance. Ask them how they went about altering their approach and how they adopted the bigger picture.
It can sometimes be very challenging moving into a new role and finding yourself managing colleagues who were previously your peers. Whether this involves managing your friends or colleagues you have had differences with, it is integral that you treat all staff fairly and equally.
You will need to establish your position and set the precedent for your working relationships early on, resolving any previous disagreements and laying the foundations for positive partnerships moving forward.
Your relationships with your team, however big it is, will be crucial to your success in your new role, it is important that you make a concerted effort to ensure they begin positively.
Being a leader
Your promotion will have come from your achievements as an excellent teacher, there is, however, a huge difference between being a great teacher and a great leader.
There will be plenty you can take from your experience and skills as a teacher, taking the standards that you set for yourself and setting them for the members of your team.
It is important to be clear when outlining your expectations, if your staff know exactly what is expected of them then they have no excuses for not achieving it.
Communication is key when it comes to effective leadership, not only when it comes to your expectations but also providing regular feedback and resolving conflict, if it arises. It is also important to be available to listen to your team, communication goes two ways and it is important for your team to feel that they have a leader they can go to, should they need it.
Taking on a management role is a huge responsibility and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You will not only have a responsibility for the success of your school but also the pupils within it and your team.
Remember that no great manager got there by themselves; they asked for help, learnt from their mistakes and followed examples set by others.