This week in the TES magazine (08/05/09) there was an article based on the ideas and thinking by the eclaimed writer Stephen Covey (The seven habits of highly effective people).
The TES working with Crelos interviewed and tested a group of teachers to try to determine what makes the most effective teachers. These were not just any classroom teachers they were ‘award winning’ teachers. To me that sounds a little like the advert ‘this is just any old supermarket this is an M&S supermarket’.
The article spread over 7 pages (one for each habit) consisted of one column of comment per habit. The rest of the page as a giant number! (Why?)
I read the article because I have been looking at what makes effect managers, leaders and sales people for some other work I am doing. The whole article was ‘interesting’ but rather thin in substance.
There were a few ‘no brainers’ and some ‘surprises’ which have made me question the whole article. For example stating the teachers are generally confident, good communicators, who have to make (at times) difficult decisions and are generally non-conformists is blindingly obvious when you meet any group of teachers. I have lost count of the times that I have sat on holiday and played ‘spot the teacher’ or even ‘spot the teacher and what they teach’!
I find it interesting to read that teachers like the company of others and that they don’t spend in front of screens on their own. Mmmmm well most secondary school teachers from my 20+ years experience spent their time in their own classroom working with children. When they got to be with colleagues it turned them into arguemental and often highly self opinionated about things they knew little or nothing about.
The suggestion that teachers are able to see the bigger picture, looking outside their schools into the big wide world is fascinating. Again in my experience very few teachers get the opportunity to look outside in the bigger world of work. Those who have are often considered by their colleagues as inferior or second-class, those who join the profession from another career often struggle to cope.
Teachers and most teacher-managers-leaders don’t get the chance or the time to look at a bigger picture of their own teaching. They have to look at the detail all the time. I often found as a senior manager that if my colleagues and I could have the time to look at the whole picture we would have been able to do a much better job. Unfortunately the education system did not and does not allow us to do this.
Many many Head teachers on their own admission as not good at strategic planning because they have never had any training in it. Now that I am outside of education this is more and more obvious to me.
Well thats the end of my ‘rant’, and it is my rant and my opinions.
I have, in my usual style, summarised 8 pages into one Mind Map (‘cos thats what I do).
download a PDF image here: 7 Habits