Getting Promoted

Once you decide on your occupation, you must immerse yourself in your work.  You have to fall in love with your work.  Never complain about your job.  You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill.  That is the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honorably.”  – Unknown Quotes.  Added by Oswald.

There are not many opportunities for promotion in the teaching service so competition for them is fierce.  However, there are things that you can do to stand out from the crowd and enhance your chances of promotion.  They are all centred on hard work:

  • Upgrade your qualifications and skill sets to position yourself at the top of your field.
  • Pursue professional training.  This increases eligibility for promotion.
  • Develop a very positive work ethic and attitude.  You must have a huge appetite for work.  You learn and achieve mastery by doing things; not by reading about them alone.  This expertise is useful during interviews for higher positions, since you are speaking from actual experience and not educational theory alone.
  • Ask your principal for more responsibility.  Show him or her that you can successfully manage heavy workloads at levels above your current positional level.  You can join the timetable team, for instance, or help with curriculum design, special projects, event planning or public exam entries.  This way you will help to move the entire institution forward.  Show that you can move beyond the narrow classroom, department, and year group levels and see the big picture.
  • Never make excuses or blame others for your failures.  Accept responsibility and find solutions for the problems yourself.  Competent problem-solvers generally get promoted.  Be proactive.  Do not run to the principal when you have a problem.  Solve it yourself.  If you must go to the principal, make sure you have a solution to offer as well.  This way, the principal will see how capable you are.
  • Seek a mentor who is successful at the level you want to reach.  He or she can give you priceless guidance in your career path and inform others who matter, about your ability to function at a higher level.  Plan your career thoroughly and learn how to deal effectively with interview questions and scenarios.
  • Be loyal to your principal and do all you can to help him or her to achieve stated school goals.  This way you become a key member of the team and the principal will support your bid for promotion.
  • Be a mentor yourself to other members of staff.  Help them to develop their instructional skills, classroom management, pastoral care, professionalism, and engagement.  This enhances mutual trust and respect among all team members.  The entire institution will benefit.
  • Be professional and well organized at all times.  Pursue excellence and be a role model for all staff members.  Be consistent, dependable, and always offer ideas to improve school effectiveness.
  • See challenges as opportunities to demonstrate your ability and opportunities for growth.  Do not fear them.

There is no guarantee that any given individual will be promoted, as there are too many candidates chasing too few available positions in the teaching service.  However, there is general agreement among educational administrators that the recommendations given above can definitely improve your chances of being promoted.  In spite of political considerations, I believe that merit and hard work are still rewarded most of the time.

Consistency is Key in Schools

Success is neither magical nor mysterious.  Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.”  –  Jim Rohn.

One of the most important tools in effective schools is consistency.  Research and practice have proved that school leaders and teachers must  be consistent every day in carrying out their duties if they want to improve student performance and conduct.  This is a necessary element in the creation of successful schools.  Educators must say what they mean and mean what they say.  There should be clear rules, policies, requirements and expectations for everyone.  The consequences of any breach of these institutional demands should be spelled out to everyone, so that there are no unpleasant surprises.

By the same token, good conduct, excellent academic and extracurricular performance by students; excellent teaching and best practices by staff, should consistently be recognized and rewarded.  The instructional process should be regularly monitored and evaluated to promote constant improvement.

The rules must be enforced every time they are broken.  Those who break the rules have to be punished in the manner spelled out in the related list of consequences mentioned above.  Consistency is key and there should be no exceptions.  No student can be allowed to wheedle his way out of punishment.  The rules apply equally to everyone.  School leaders and teachers cannot be strict sometimes and lenient at other times.  Students and staff respect those who are strict and consistent because they are predictable and trustworthy.

Students value consistency and they expect to be punished when they break the rules.  Inconsistency causes confusion and leads to accusations  of favouritism, indecisiveness and injustice.  It destroys trust, community spirit and a positive school climate.  Staff and students need definite rules, policies and structure.  This framework makes their everyday lives predictable, fair and stable.  When everyone knows the consequences of infringements of the rules, discipline, safety and academic performance improve.  This happens when they know that the rules will be enforced.

Each school leader and teacher must be consistent in his or her daily practice.  However, there is another dimension of consistency in schools.  The administration and staff must operate like a coherent unit.  They must all interpret, apply and enforce the rules in the same consistent way.  If this is not done, students again become confused and play one teacher off against another.  The teachers who uphold the rules appear to be harsh and those who are too lenient appear to be “cool.”  The teachers who are perceived to be harsh become unpopular.  This scenario seriously undermines discipline, morale, and academic performance wherever it happens.  School leaders must also support teachers who report problems they are experiencing with students.  Administration and staff must function as one.

School leaders and teachers must create what some researchers have called a “culture of consistency” in which everyone knows the rules, the acceptable work performance standards, and what to expect without fail when they are not respected.  This fosters improved school effectiveness and underlines our assertion that consistency is key in schools for administrators, staff and students.

10 Features of a Great School

Great schools have many distinguishing features in common.  Some exhibit a number of uncommon features as well.  This post is not intended to be an exhaustive report on all the characteristics of great schools.  It lists, however, 10 features that most educational experts and practitioners consider to be necessary in the anatomy of any great school.  I present them here in no particular order.

1.  A very clear and shared mission and vision for the school.  A contextual philosophy of education for the school is also paramount.  Staff, students, parents and the community need to know the purpose and operational parameters of the school.  Nothing is left to chance.

2.  Very clear goals and objectives which are communicated to the staff, students, parents and wider community.  Everyone in the school knows exactly what he or she is required to do on a daily basis in order to meet the institutional goals and objectives.  This speaks to performance on every level.

3.  Great leadership from the principal.  The principal is both instructional leader and manager of the school.  While both these roles are important, he or she must pay particular attention to instructional leadership.  This is what drives continual improvement in teaching and  learning throughout the school.

4.  A relentless focus on teaching and learning.  This is informed by the belief that all students can learn.  Teachers must find ways to motivate and engage them.  The curriculum is rigorous and teacher performance is regularly monitored by the principal and executive staff.  Teachers and students strive for excellence in academic and extracurricular activities.  Good performance is always publicly recognized and rewarded in various ways.

5.  Parental involvement in the school.  Many studies have shown that students learn better when their parents take a close interest in their schooling and form partnerships with teachers.  Parents can also help in various school activities.  Alumni and the wider community can also offer assistance in many ways.

6.  High expectations for students and staff.  It is common knowledge that students will generally live up to your expectations.  When they know that teachers genuinely care about them and believe in their ability, they work harder and perform better.

7.  A culture and climate which are conducive to learning.  This is reinforced by praise and rewards for good performance and a student-centred approach to teaching.

8.  A safe environment.  Zero tolerance for violence, bullying, drugs, alcohol, offensive weapons, stealing, sexual misconduct, and gangs.  Heavy emphasis on positive values such as respect, honesty, hard work, self-discipline, fairness and caring.

9.  A focus on professional development for teachers.  This includes mentoring, delegation of tasks and additional responsibilities and formal in-house or external professional development courses.  Teachers are accountable for their performance.

10.  Teamwork.  Identification and collaborative solving of teaching and learning problems at the school.  Staff members are empowered to take the initiative and make decisions.  The principal facilitates and monitors this process. ,

One constant among the features of a great school is that good ideas and best practices are shared among the staff.  When decisions have to be made, the first considerations revolve around what is best for the students and the school.