Working in education is one of the most rewarding jobs you could wish for, especially when you see the positive impact that your work is having on children and families. However, juggling all the challenges thrown your way can sometimes leave you feeling overwhelmed and can distract you from your long term goals and objectives.
There are a huge amount of different theories in leadership, business and management about how best to steer your organisation through a period of challenge and change, whilst maintaining a clear focus.
One of the models that has stuck with me and has most inspired me, is drawn from the work of Simon Sinek. Sinek looked at a range of inspirational and innovative leaders and organisations, for example Apple, the Wright Brothers and Martin Luther King. He identified a common thread in how they thought, worked and functioned. Sinek realised that they all communicated and thought in the same way. Out of his work, he devised what he called the Golden Circle, a diagram of which is shown below:
Sinek argues that many organisations prioritise the communication and advertisement of what they do. However, the most successful organisations prioritise the communication of the ‘why’, taking the time to make clear to investors and customers the purpose of what they are trying to achieve and why it matters. Sinek believes that most people will only buy into what you are doing, if they understand why you are doing it. I agree.
With all the political pushes and pulls on education and with all the day to day demands associated with managing a school, it’s all too easy to lose sight of long term leadership objectives. It’s important that we make time to fully explain to staff, children and parents, why these objectives matter and why they will benefit our school community in the future.
At the start of the year, I asked staff in their year teams to come up with their own golden circle for Coleridge, outlining why we do what we do, how we do it, and finally what we do. Despite working separately in small groups, it was affirming to read that everybody seemed to share the same vision and were clear about how to achieve it.
When talking about the why, the staff spoke unanimously about the importance of inspiring children, educating the whole child and preparing them for a changing future. Giving children opportunities to excel in different settings and in different ways. They spoke about wanting to make a difference, their love of working with children and wanting to give them the best possible start in life. Furthermore, they spoke about their own interest and passion for teaching.
Their ideas about the how were also similar; all the year teams were consistent in their thinking, explaining the need to create a safe, caring, creative and inclusive environment in which the whole school community could thrive and work together.
What we do, is to instil a love of learning in children, teaching them to be aspirational and empathetic, and to play active roles in their communities. Coleridge provides a wide variety of opportunities for children to shine; from philosophy to forest schools, or from gardening to public speaking, every child can find something to enthuse and inspire them, thus creating a positive first experience of learning.