Working with children can provide you with great challenges and joy every day. I have met many teachers who are confident to speak in front of a hall full of children but ask them to speak in front of their peers – other teachers or their SLT, and suddenly that confidence disappears.
Being in the classroom means you may see things from a different angle than your SLT do. You may also see things that are being introduced that you think will benefit your school – perhaps to do with a curriculum area, children’s wellbeing, supporting a positive learning environment, or the kind of assessment data you’re collecting. So, how can you approach your SLT so that they consider your ideas?
· Make sure you have researched the idea fully and are clear in your mind what you are sharing with them and the impact it will have on the school, children, staff or the budget!
· Think about why you want to suggest it. Is it just something you’ve seen on social media that you think will make a difference, or does it come from a policy change that you know is on its way and you’re thinking about in advance?
· Everyone in a school is busy! Arrange a time to meet with SLT so there is a focus on what you are saying and it’s not just a passing conversation in the corridor, or just as they are about to go out to another meeting.
· Before meeting with them, think about the benefits and any downfalls. Others may not share your enthusiasm for this new idea, so be prepared to help them understand where you are coming from and why you think this will be a positive change.
· If appropriate, offer to run it just in your class / year group. During this time, keep SLT informed about how it’s going and, if it isn’t having the impact you were hoping for, admit this, summarise what you have learned from it, and move on. If it is going as you expected (or even better!), invite them to see it in action, and arrange another meeting to discuss next steps. If you are going to be running it in several classes, make sure the other teachers are on board too and understand fully what is being asked of them.
· Be prepared with a plan to introduce it to the rest of the school if asked to. This may involve you having to speak with other teachers but keep the idea clear and explain the benefits that you found when you tried it, say what you found difficult and how you overcame those difficulties and most importantly, offer support to those who may struggle with the change.
The important thing to remember when going to SLT is that they know what it’s like to be in the classroom, but they now have to think about the impact on the whole school. If you’re well prepared and help make their decision easier, you’ll certainly be on the right track to helping bring about a change in your school.
By Ben Case, from the FSF education team.
Edited by Jules