As an aspiring leader, what should you invest in? Where should you be spending your time and money?
You need, of course, to be developing yourself professionally: attending conferences, attaining higher level degrees, consciously honing your instructional leadership capacities.
But, what else should you invest in? Are there useful resources a school leader should own, develop, acquire or cultivate?
The school leaders I sampled offered these thoughts:
“Follow Teacher’s Toolkit on Twitter”
“Get subscriptions to the Times Educational Supplement, Schools Week, and a good newspaper. Carve out time to read them.”
“Subscribe to ‘The Marshall Memo’ — a weekly summary of research and ideas from 60 publications.” [Note: This came up on multiple occasions and is well worth the subscription price]
“Get two mobile phones; keep one for school use only…your sanity will thank you”
“Join an ongoing leadership programme, such as a Masters in Educational Leadership or equivalent. In my own experience, deep reflection upon the process of leadership and/or management is never a pressing priority and this helps to raise it up the list.”
“The PTC is very useful. Having access to a large email list is an asset when working on new ideas and looking for benchmark data and ideas.”
“Get some fun ties and bright socks; it’s a school after all, not a bank.”
“Spend some money on a decent laptop. Better still, spend the school’s money on a decent laptop. The time and frustration saved will pay huge dividends…especially when it comes to late night working!”
“Get copies of Ken Blanchard and Toby Travis books.” [Note: A quick Google or Amazon search will return plenty of relevant books by both authors]
“As a school leader, you need to look smart and professional — invest in a good suit but not one that makes you look 65 years old (unless you are 65 years old)! People do judge by appearances, find time to invest in yourself and your appearance.”
“A stock of high-quality shirts (pink preferred).”
“An online calendar accessible by all staff — essential to organising the many facets of school life.”
“A journal that you carry around with you — eventually you will be in a hallway or a boardroom without a computer or phone and someone will ask you for something and you’ll say no problem and then they’ll forget to email — WRITE IT DOWN!”
The ASCL annual conference has always been an excellent way to recharge my enthusiasm and to reflect upon the challenges schools face and how we can find solutions together.
“Invest in your PA, they are vital.”
“An office library. And make sure you know how to account for your books, but having a conversation about a new concept or topic and then putting that into the hands of a stakeholder or colleague is a great way to connect and spread ideas.”
“Teaching materials must take precedence! Other than that, funding for outings and time for teacher team building exercises.”
Plus, a few very practical ideas:
“A gym subscription.”
“A GPS running watch such as a Garmin to track daily movement (avoiding too long without a walkabout) but also encouraging exercise at other times.”
“Good health, exercise, healthy eating and meditation.”
“A room with a view.”
“A toilet you can escape to without being seen!”
Get yourself a pink shirt
Start building up your leadership resources.
Pick one of the suggested resources and buy it, acquire it or create it. Pick one that will be useful to you now and that will grow with you on your leadership journey.
A nice notebook? Buy one and start using it. Pink shirts. Buy a selection now and make it your signature attire. A magazine subscription. Subscribe now, and start reading.
The more familiar you are with the resources available to you the smoother your leadership journey will be.