Self-awareness, Teams, Trust and Johari

The phrase ‘team work’ often gets banded around in many environments but what does it actually mean?  I think the concept of team runs much deeper than a group of people working together towards a common goal.  Team work is complex, intricate and within the team, relationships, behaviours and individual strengths should be well balanced and complementary for maximum impact.

In this short blog post, I want to briefly examine self awareness, team, trust and how they link together.

I am really fortunate that I have had the opportunity to be part of many teams since being a youngster and throughout my life and career.  Whether it was swimming, athletics or being part of a choir or orchestra, my understanding of team was not from reading about it but actually being a part of it, like many people in leadership positions.

To be part of an effective team, you have to be extremely self-aware.  You must know your strengths, limitations and your impact on others.  As a young person, I didn’t really think about the concept of team much – we just did it.  As an adult, mum, leader and professional I have become increasingly interested in ‘team.’  Especially more recently.  We all rely on teams, we are all part of at least one team!  Team work has been cheesed-up quite a lot – I am not blogging about McTeam today.  Team work and self-awareness  should be taken really seriously.

But these most visible leadership abilities build not just on empathy, but also on managing ourselves and sensing how what we do affects others.” 
― 
Daniel GolemanFocus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence

Know yourself – know others.

In your team(s) is everyone open?  If so, your team is probably really effective.  Professional, respectful and mutual trust exists amongst the team members.  They feel confident to ask questions, give opinions, solve issues and accomplish much together under a common vision or goal.    When I first started exploring the concept of team seriously, I came across the Johari Window.  Many of you will have used this, or discussed it in some form.  It’s really useful in a team context.

It’s nothing new at all, in fact, it has been used extensively in educational leadership, but I thought it was a great model/tool to help develop trust and with the help of feedback from colleagues, learn loads about yourself and others and develop team functionality.   The model was developed in 1955  by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham (hence the name Johari).

johari good image

The model (pictured above) is divided into four segments.

Segment 1 – The Open area – this is what is known to you and others about yourself

Segment 2 – The Blind area – represents what is unknown to you but known to others

Segment 3 – The Hidden area – this is what you know about yourself but is not known by others

Segment 4 – The Unknown area – not known by you and not know by others

The aim of any group should be to develop the open area of the team and all within the team.   The open area is the space where good communication and co-operation occurs.  The size of the open area can be maximised horizontally by pushing and extending  into the blind space.  This can be achieved by actively seeking, listening to and acting on feedback.  This could be particularly useful when becoming a member of an existing and established team.

The open can also be extended downwards into the hidden area in a process of telling and disclosure.  It is totally natural to keep some things private – common sense, but in the hidden area there may be relevant sensitivities, fears, insecurities, hidden agendas, manipulative intentions.  Where it is work related – it is better out in the open.  Reducing the size of the hidden area reduces potential for misunderstanding and poor communication.

The most exciting area to me is the unknown!  These might be skills that have not been used or developed yet, behaviours, capabilities that can be beneficial.  The unknown area is all about self and team discovery.   The unknown may be really deep feelings or facets of personality that influence behaviour.

The Johari model represents and illustrates perfectly (IMHO) the need to share, listen and develop.  I think this should be the crux of any team.   People with large open areas generally are very ‘free,’ easy to talk to and communicate very well.   The actual goal of the Johari model was to open the channels of communication to develop team trust.

The single most important aspect of ‘team’ is trust.  The Johari model, or whatever model it is that a school uses to develop and build self and team awareness is utterly pointless without high trust.

Leaders should be trustworthy, and this worthiness is an important virtue.  Without trust leaders lose credibility.  This loss poses difficulties to leaders as they seek to call people to respond to their responsibilities.  The painful alternative is to be punitive, seeking to control people through manipulation or coercion.  But trust is a virtue in other ways too.  The building of trust is an organisational quality…Once embedded in the culture of the school, trust works to liberate people to be their best, to give others their best, and to take risks.’ (Sergiovanni 2005 p90)

If a team knows the strengths of each of its members based on trust and thoughtful, sensitive, constructive feedback, leadership at all stages will flourish.   Covey (2006 p19) believes that ‘when trust is high, the dividend you receive is like a performance multiplier…..high trust materially improves communication, collaboration, execution, innovation….’   I agree with Covey and love his concept of ‘performance multiplier.’  But it all starts with opening up.  The first step to trust is to trust!  The best indicator of trust in a school is whether leadership is devolved and shared across the school regardless of a persons’ age, status or role.  A further indicator is the success of the teams within the organisation.  Is the development of relationships on the same level as having impact with a task, and does the team regularly ask ‘How are we doing?’ and ‘How can we improve?’

A deeper understanding of ourselves through effective feedback, communication and sense of team will develop into a high trust environment.  This will enhance leadership within yourself and others and contribute to securing effective teaching and learning.

What an Inspirational Week!

Last week was so busy but really enjoyable!  I organised a ‘TEACHWEEK’ at school.  This involved an ‘open door event’ where staff signed up to visit colleagues’ classrooms to observe good practice, a teaching and learning market place, form activities and a series of assemblies.  The main aim of this week was to encourage a whole school dialogue about improving teaching and learning, to provide opportunities for staff to lead CPD and to launch and introduce the main concepts of adopting a ‘growth mindset’ during assemblies and form activities.  If you missed last week’s blog, you can check it out here…..

https://te4chl3arn.wordpress.com/2015/02/21/teachweek/

and the assembly is here……

https://prezi.com/ceqobbcyl3dt/nobody-is-born-clever/

I was a little overwhelmed by the positive reactions of staff to the open door event.  I wanted to improve the view of being observed and observing others, as for some, it had become quite a negative experience.  Therefore, it was great to hear conversations about what worked in the lessons seen…even for specific children.  It meant that staff were really valuing, evaluating and reflecting on the practice that they had directly observed. Every time I heard ‘I’m going to try that,’ or ‘he’s really good for you…how do you do it?’ or ‘I’ve never observed a lesson since my NQT year, it was great to do again,’ and finally ‘wish we could do this more often,’  It made me smile.  I hope we can build on this momentum, with the aim to be habitually in and out of each others lessons for CPD purposes and developing the use of IRIS within school.  We have so much to be proud of, but equally and realistically, much to improve……hasn’t everyone?!

Moreover, the marketplace we held was awesome!  We had some amazing CPD sessions delivered by staff who really put their very best practice out there for everyone to use and develop.  A few of the sessions were extremely creative!  The afternoon provided learning, laughter and  inspiration.  I got a few positive comments on the assembly and resources too from staff and pupils! One teacher said that during the assembly, a pupil she had battled with about ‘attitude’ had the grace to look over to her with a guilty look and acknowledge that he’d been a pain! Result!  Some staff have requested a copy of the image I used in the assembly to put up in their classroom…a lovely idea!  We are all on the ladder somewhere!

steps to success

I implore anyone who is reading (has anyone got this far?!) especially if you feel like your school has lost it’s way a little bit with data, data, data at the very top of the agenda dictating everything, to organise some kind of week/fortnight in their school that promotes teaching and learning and puts it truly back at the forefront where it should be.  Teaching and Learning, coupled to USEFUL data should be the driving force of every decision, every plan, every day, for every person in a school.  Not that I’m biased……but without great teaching and learning, you won’t get the great data.

We’re working on feedback now….have been for a couple of weeks!

In the week preceeding our TEACHWEEK – all the staff were consulted on feedback to pupils.  We have come up together, with a list of bullet points that we consider non-negotiable when it comes to giving quality feedback to pupils and how to signpost progress in pupils’ work more consistently.  What we have suggested as a body of staff seems like common sense, but when provided in a framework makes it more objective.  Expectations are spelled out in black and white, yet the framework is flexible enough for vital departmental idiosyncrasy.  The outcomes for this huge piece of work we have done on feedback and marking is ‘pick up any book, folder or portfolio and see development of learning.’  Equally, the pupils need to be addressing and deepening their learning as a result of the feedback.  Staff were further consulted about the framework at our marketplace and it was accordingly adapted.  We will revisit this at our staff CPD afternoon on Tuesday for some final consultation and tweaks ready to launch formally before Easter.  There has been so much consultation because it is important that we get it right for everyone – especially the children, but of course, it is a ‘work in progress’ and is subject to evaluation and review at any point.  My prezi for the original session launching the development of feedback and marking in school can be found here…..

https://prezi.com/kxuaz6cjckhk/feedback-getting-it-right/

….and I will be blogging about how we do feedback with all the documents and resources very soon!

TEACHWEEK!

At Christmas I was reading some research by Viviane Robinson.  This was conducted in 2009 but I consider it very relevant.  It is about ‘School Leadership and Student Outcomes’ and what works best.  It explores the effect size of leadership initiatives and actions and their impact on student outcomes.  Put simply, an effect size of 0.2 is weak and an effect size of 0.6 or over is an initiative or intervention that is deemed to have significant impact (similar methodology to Hattie.)   As Hattie says ‘It’s not what works because 90% of all interventions are positive….it’s what works BEST.’  Robinson’s work tries to establish leadership foci that have most impact on student outcomes.  In the summary of the best Evidence Synthesis (Summary – School Leadership and Student Outcomes) it clearly states that ‘A strong message from the study was the link between student success and the active participation of school leaders in professional development and learning with their staff.’   In other words……ENGAGE, TALK, SHARE, LEAD, COLLABORATE, IMPROVE.

To encourage active participation and leadership of learning at my school between teachers OR leaders (I would argue they are the same) we are having a ‘TEACHWEEK.’  The main objective of the week is to build up trust and teamwork but mainly to ignite the whole teaching and learning DIALOGUE.  I want us to create a buzz and get everyone participating in improving and developing their practice and committing whole-heartedly to their own professional development.

OPEN DOOR EVENT

come on in

Running throughout the week, we have a wonderful team of great staff that have volunteered to ‘open’ their classroom doors to any member of staff that would like to visit when they are free.  It includes senior leaders being observed too!  This was advertised to staff on a timetable pinned up in the library so teachers could select the lessons they would wish to visit.  As a result we have 17 peer observations occurring during the week.  I’m sure there will be more to follow.  I really want to develop informal observations.  I think it was @teachertoolkit that tweeted ‘the best way to improve teaching is to observe and to be observed’ …so true!  I’m sure that staff will find visiting other classrooms beneficial and see how teachers inspire, engage and motivate their students to achieve.  Hopefully there will be lots of cross-pollination between departments.  Equally, those great teachers who have opened their classroom doors are being given the opportunity to lead the way and demonstrate why they are so successful in their classrooms!  Those that have observed can share the strengths seen at their faculty meetings with their departments – another opportunity for teaching and learning leadership.

TEACHING AND LEARNING MARKETPLACE

mattie stepanek

I have to thank @headguruteacher for the inspiration for this – though I think maybe his marketplace sessions run a little differently??

All staff were invited to submit a session they would like to lead during our CPD afternoon on Tuesday.  Nine staff volunteered really useful and informative micro-CPD sessions of twenty minutes on all things teaching and learning – from entrepreneurship to using google effectively, to building students’ confidence for communication.  As with the open door event, the timetable was pinned up in the library and teachers, T.As and pastoral staff chose the sessions they wanted to attend.  It has all been organised now and over 30 CPD sessions will be running throughout the afternoon!   I will be tweeting about this on Tuesday with everything going on from my school account @DVHSTeachLearn.  It looks really good and again, provides opportunities for staff to lead on what they are passionate about.

FORM ACTIVITIES

Throughout the week, pupils will be engaged in teaching and learning activities during form time.  As a school we have not really embraced the ‘growth mindset’ philosophy yet – so it’s time to get the ball rolling, and TEACHWEEK provides the perfect opportunity! We will initially be focusing more on teaching the children about resilience, grit, how the brain works and the qualities of having a growth mindset using some tweaked/adapted resources from the centre for confidence and well being. (http://www.centreforconfidence.co.uk/) – @CfCWB THANK YOU very, very much!

ASSEMBLIES

I will be doing the assemblies for the week – my first as Assistant Principal…EEK!  I know I will enjoy it though!  Must remember to read my blog post on how to avoid getting nervous!  https://te4chl3arn.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/getting-on-my-nerves/

I want to promote great attitude to learning as well as developing teaching.   @chrishildrew thanks for the inspiration ‘attitude determines altitude’.  Here’s my prezi link – can be used during form time or in an assembly.    https://prezi.com/ceqobbcyl3dt/nobody-is-born-clever/ Thanks @khanacademy for the video I’m using.

So, they are the main events for the week!  Just about to settle down and put the finishing touches in.  I’m sure it’s going to be really busy, but I hope we will all have a great time and learn loads!  I hope this is the spring of the ‘active participation’ that Viviane Robinson talks about in her study.  The impact is yet to be seen…….watch this space!

Getting on my Nerves

Delivering an assembly, speaking in staff briefing, leading whole school CPD, lesson observation, interview, OFSTED visit, results day…….endless reasons for the bothersome butterflies to start fluttering in your tummy and to develop sudden speech issues rendering you unable to pronounce a word properly without sounding like a sheep in slow motion.

Ok – that may be very exaggerated but, nerves are as common in teaching as stage fright is in the acting profession. It’s called ‘performance anxiety.’ As a profession, on a ‘stage’ in front of children, young adults and our peers we are generally VERY good at hiding it!! Speaking before a group allegedly ranks in the top 14 of human fears! A study by Bruskin in 1973 and re-published in 1977 showed that speaking in front of a group was the number 1 fear. There was some doubt however about the validity of the data!!

2015/02/img_0996-1.png

Nerves are caused by a variety of reasons, but the best explanation is that nervousness is a physiological reaction. When your body is faced with a situation – usually outside your comfort zone, it’s natural reaction is to get excited or to be frightened. Very simply, this triggers the release of adrenaline into your bloodstream. The job of adrenaline is to enable your body to deal with the situation, but the ‘side effects’ of adrenaline are trembling, dry mouth, cold hands, rapid pulse, sometimes giddiness!

From personal experience, the more often I have to present something the more I get used to it and I am fully aware of what can make me feel nervous and therefore I can control it. In the early days of first leading whole school CPD (about a year ago) the school had previously been put into a category with looming forced academisation. Lots of morale issues, disgruntled staff. It was scary and very difficult to put good ideas out there enthusiastically and get buy-in and that is what made me feel nervous. I spoke to the head about my nerves and she couldn’t believe that I was feeling so nervous – apparently I didn’t come across that way at all. She immediately dispelled my belief that I was a jelly like blabbering wreck, which shows that the affects of anxiety are, much of the time, in our heads. Just because you feel a bit nervous does not mean you come across that way! I think I’d be more worried if I did not get a bit nervous!

So, in a situation where you may feel nerves follow these top tips!

PREPARE! PREPARE! PREPARE!
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail!
When speaking – know your lines! Rehearse and practise. Know what you are trying to achieve! Have your handouts/activities/presentation ready
Be ready for technical hitches – though it might not be as crazy as what happens in this clip! CLICK THIS LINK

TED SPEAKER’S WORST NIGHTMARE?!

ACKNOWLEDGE!
That you need some nervous energy to absolutely knock it out the park and sock it to ’em – get your point across energetically!

WATER!
Have water available at all times during your presentation – take a sip

SHIFT THE FOCUS!
It’s not you as the presenter that matters – it’s your listeners so put them in the limelight.

RECOGNISE!
Recognise when you are starting to feel nervous and breathe!!! What’s the worst that could happen?!

ENJOY!
If you are a bit nervous it probably means you are outside your comfort zone – that means you are learning! I am a very new Assistant Principal – only been on it for half a term but loving new challenges – I think it would be a little unproductive not to have a little bit of nervous energy to give each day a bit of a zing!

Finally – laugh!!! Have you ever made a spectacular mess of your words when you have been nervous?? In my very early days as a trainee in a mock job interview I was supposed to say ‘that’s a hard one’ referring to a question that had been asked. Unfortunately I mispronounced ‘one.’ (Think about it!) Luckily my professional mentor didn’t notice, either that or they kept an amazingly straight face! Oops!

If ‘speaking in front of a group’ is in the top 14 of human fears – us teachers do pretty well! Remember, not everybody can do it. It makes teachers pretty remarkable. Feeling nervous can be annoying, but it is natural – learn your own ways of dealing with it. Harness the energy and use it positively.