We Are The City: Supporting The Female Pipeline

I was interviewed and profiled this week for We Are the City’s ‘Inspirational Women’.

Their mission: supporting women in their careers/helping firms attract/retain/develop their female talent.

For news/conferences/events/awards/jobs/tech/career resources follow @WATC_updates and check out their website here.

My interview:

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I am very goal orientated and have always had a 3-5 year professional plan. I was advised when I first qualified that the optimum time for my first few roles was 3 years so I could ascertain what sort of position, culture, line manager, context etc I needed to thrive. Career development advice is lacking in teaching and this is one of the reasons why we founded #womened – to support and nurture the leadership pipeline for women in education.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

Lots! Mainly navigating being the youngest and the only female on several teams. I had to develop a thick skin and take undue criticism on the chin. I also had to find and use my voice – there is no point sitting at the table if you are not present. I am really candid, I have found that being direct and straight talking helps you to hold your ground.

What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?

Know yourself. I have spent a lot of timing being coached, reflecting and discussing who I  am as an educator and as a leader. Knowing my values, being able to articulate them, has helped me to articulate my vision and this has shaped my leadership behaviours. I make all decisions from my core values which are my compass.

When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how would you decide who should have the role?

I have just recruited a brand new team. I long and short listed based on values. I then created a series of tasks to test each of the values. I also had to think carefully about the team dynamic and succession planning for the future. It was a balancing act. I would love to see more gender and racially blind application processes across the system.

How do you manage your own boss?

I have always led up. I am super-organised so I would lead the calendar of our line management dates/ times. I am a communicator and initiated how we would capture our agenda/ minutes/ work flow. I hold my team, myself and my line manager to account.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

I start with a shower and a cup of coffee, I end with a bath and a glass of wine!

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations?

Work on your personal brand  – how do people see you and how do you want to be seen? Make sure people know what you are doing and the impact you are having. Learn to not only celebrate but to share tour successes, big and small, model this with your team. Say yes to opportunities and work out how to do it later. Find the gaps in the structure and offer to lead on projects/ initiatives that will add value. Network internally and externally, after all it is who you know not what you know that opens doors.

How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?

I have received a lot of coaching in the last year as I made the transition to Headteacher. I now have a mentor to grow as a professional and a coach to grow as a human. I cannot recommend values based coaching enough. I am also a coach for other women in education who aspire to lead or who are leading but stuck in a rut to help them get that foot up the ladder.

Do you think networking is important and if so, what 3 tips would you give to a newbee networker?

Networking is key. Join twitter and linked in. Go to events and meet your virtual connections in real time. Stay connected and engage in professional dialogue. My #womened tribe inspire and empower me every day.

What does the future hold for you?

I started my Headship in January and will open my first school in September, with a second one opening the year after. I have been asked to become a Trustee and to write a book.  All of this has happened due to coaching and networking so get out there and start connecting.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The dynamic pipeline of leaders I have recruited for Aureus School.
  • The promotions I have heard about in the #womened community.

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • I have not had much chance to read recently but have enjoyed delving through the WATC archive.
  • I have just written a blog for Viv Grant so am thinking how to create a culture of wellbeing for all of my staff but also for all of my leaders with a focus on the female leaders in the pipeline.

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • My contacts in the #womened #edtech emerging network who are coming to Aureus for a planning meeting this week.
  • My TSA contacts who are coming to Aureus for a planning meeting after half-term for a Return to Work/ Maternity/ KIT programme.
  • My #wellbeing contacts who I will see at the MHWB teachmeet this week.

#CollectiveVoice: Stronger Together

The launch of the Chartered College of Teaching has been a long-anticipated event which has split the profession. On Thursday I was one of the founding members who attended the inaugural conference to launch our professional  body. Spirits were high and there was a palpable energy in the room. The day’s schedule was crammed with  different sessions from a range of expert voices.

Dame Alison Peacock’s vision for the CCoT:

  • Sharing pedagogy
  • Opening our classrooms to the world
  • Connecting the profession
  • Feeling valued and appreciated
  • Removing the barriers to wellbeing – fear, stress, lack of trust
  • Articulating an authentic voice
  • Showcasing what is working
  • Amplifying excellence
  • Sharing knowledge

Alison’s passion and positivity shone through, she believes in the CCoT and I believe in her ability to rally the troops and challenge the status quo.

Justine Greening’s vision for the teaching profession:

  • Laying foundations
  • Imagining the next generation
  • Supporting, developing and shaping potential
  • Enabling talent
  • Improving social mobility
  • Learning professionally
  • Developing career pathways
  • Being heard
  • Feeling valued and empowered

Justine spoke carefully and confidently, making reference to her own professional learning and membership. She left stage and came back on because she had forgotten to mention the need for flexibility – she need not elaborate but at least it is on her radar #womened!

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‘Reach Out’:

Personal high (I love a sing and a dance, Motown is my genre and I don’t mind making a twit of myself – we had a fun table and everyone was engaged) but a professional low for many and some left the room in disgust. I got the metaphor but it split the crowd and gave the naysayers ammunition which detracted from all of the positives.

John Tomsett:

  • Evidence informed practice – we need firm foundations in research
  • The noise – we need to quieten the loud, uniformed voices
  • The glue – the CCoT will connect us

John always cuts through all of the subtexts and speaks such sense, with such clarity, he was the first to mention budgets and selection – the two issues facing all schools and the call to arms for the profession to unite to challenge the policy makers.

Rob Coe:

  • Change
  • Optimism
  • Professional evidence, professional development, professional values
  • Comfort zone – we all need to be better and improve each year

Rob is the voice of reason and appeared to be on the fence about the change that the CCoT will bring.

Panel 1, chaired by Ann Mroz:

  • Truth – it takes months and years to embed research into our practice
  • Impact – we need to be honest with ourselves and others about what is working and be seen with our worse class to get true feedback
  • Context – what works for one teacher and one class will not work for all learners in all contexts

Ann chaired the discussion on research and how the CCoT will support pedagogy.  It was great to see an all women panel but the #collectivevoice was of school leaders and a HEI educator – a missed opportunity for classroom teachers to be heard?

Penny Mallory:

  • Self-limiting beliefs
  • World class performance
  • Risk-taking
  • Bravery

Penny is an inspiring woman – not only has she broken records and smashed the glass ceiling but she has overcome a difficult personal story. She challenged our thinking about how we limit ourselves and how we are risk averse.

Panel 2, chaired by Tim O’Brien:

  • Career ambitions v loving your job
  • Collaborative community practice
  • Opportunities to stay in the classroom and be rewarded for it
  • Distributed leadership
  • Collective efficacy

Tim chaired the panel and modelled the research model used to inform the CCoT’s direction. It was a well-balanced panel crossing sectors and phases and we heard the only two teacher voices of the day.

Tim O’Brien’s closing question:

What is your best hope for yourself and your profession? 

  • Trust
  • Collaboration
  • Authenticity
  • Vision and values
  • Courage to hold your nerve

Dr Tanya Byron:

  • Mental health and wellbeing knowledge – what do we need to know as teachers to inform our practice?
  • Mental health versus physical health priorities – why as a society do we not treat mental wellbeing as equal to physical wellbeing?

Tanya was an entertaining final speaker and shared some of the cold facts about the state of our schools.  The science of learning is an area of knowledge that the CCoT could disseminate research and training on. In 15 years I have never been taught nor studied how the brain works.

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Pen Mendonca:

The fabulous Pen was there to visually capture the day – check out her graphic illustrations exploring the themes of the day.

Why do we need the Chartered College of Teaching?

We need to restore a collective faith, to inspire a collective hope, to unite a collective voice.

How will the Chartered College of Teaching capture the hearts and minds of the teaching profession?  

We need a positive rhetoric, we need a body to talk up the profession to nurture and retain the teachers we have, to engage and recruit the future generation of teachers.

We need a #collective voice to rise above the divisions of phase, sector, region, to amplify our voice and to challenge the system.

What do I need from the Chartered College of Teaching?

We need to make sure that all voices are heard, that all educators are represented. There was a high representation of gender but a lack of diversity at the launch events. Moreover, the dominant voices were not of teachers, but of leaders and external influences. Teachers who are current classroom practitioners did not seem to have a presence in the audience either. We need to engage the critical mass. On my table (100% #womened and 50% #BAMEed) we were representing the following school roles:

  • Headteachers x 3
  • Deputy Headteacher
  • Assistant Headteacher
  • School leaders x 2
  • University lecturer
  • Supply teacher
  • Teaching school director

It is fantastic that the CCoT smashed its own target for Easter registrations within 10 days of launching, we need to build on this momentum and make sure that the founding members are the teachers of today and the teachers of tomorrow. I really hope that the Chartered College of Teaching central team & the founding members can capture the hearts & minds of the profession, uniting them as one.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • The hope in the profession and the opportunities to be stronger together

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • I have just packed up all of my books so am on virtual stimuli until I move and unpack and in a few weeks’ time
  • Have read and shared some brilliant articles today #womened #bameed

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • All of the educators I connected and re-connected with at the CCoT launch on Thursday in London