The Demon Head Teacher

bad-boss-unengaged-workers-12001200xx1200-675-0-63

I have been lucky to always work under ‘good’ bosses. I didn’t love them, I wasn’t best friends with them, I saw their faults and I could see their weaknesses and bad decision making at times. However, I always liked something about them. They had a certain likeability factor for me. I know countless people who worked with them who would disagree, but the main thing above all, is that I respected them.

My first boss was very unapproachable, so to speak. His office was at the far end of the school and you were always scared about knocking on in fear of disturbing him. He was very professional. He didn’t make jokes in staff meetings, there was no banter and he dressed in a full suit, waistcoat and tie every day. He came on Christmas staff parties but it always felt like your dad or granddad was there and I never felt I could drink on these work dos. He was also expressionless when you were asking him something; careful not to give anything away on his face. You could never tell what he was thinking, but you knew that his mind was working overtime processing what you had just told him.

However, saying all of this he was so knowledgeable. His behaviour management was excellent, he was fair, was a strong manager and very supportive. He is still the Head teacher that I contact for advice when I am thinking about moving schools or need a reference. He knows his stuff and puts the school first above his own ego. He was in no cliques at school and so would not let weaker teachers get away with things that I have seen other Heads do because they are friends outside of work.

My second Head teacher was very different. He was younger and more ‘modern.’ He had an open door policy; teachers were always hanging out in his office. He was very charismatic, treated like a Rock Star around school. At the Christmas party he would buy rounds of shots and dance around with the best of us. He definitely had his favourites though and again, his was expressionless and didn’t give much away. But he was supportive and reassured me in tough times. He knew his stuff and could give great advice.  He was also good in hard times for the school. He pushed through and believes in his school strongly. He loves the community and the families from the school.

The Headmistress I was under was quite ‘scary’, not approachable and I always felt like I was being spoken down to, like I was never good enough. I realised that this was just her way of speaking to people and once I realised that it wasn’t personal, I started to understand her. She was very critical during lesson observations but she did know what she was talking about and I could always see her point when she gave me feedback. This headmistress was a different person out of school. She was very professional in school but much more relaxed out of the school environment and once I became pregnant she became so warm towards me- that common ground helped our relationship.

My last Head (before my current one) was a lady at the pupil referral unit. She was Irish and 65years old, so had seen a lot. She had a lovely nature and was the most supportive Head I have ever come across. She refused to criticise and her lesson observations were all about uplifting teachers and giving them confidence in their jobs. She started each day with a group meeting and ended each day with a group meeting, acting as a sort of counsellor to the staff. She held everyone together and definitely had a ‘we’ not ‘me’ mentality. Yes, she had her bad points. She liked to say ‘yes’ a lot, then would realise, actually we can’t say yes to that. She had her favourites and she over spoilt the children, bribing them with sweets and chocolates. But she was well respected. By staff, families and the children and she still kept that professionalism. Power dressing every morning even though she would be restraining a child by lunch time. She knew her stuff inside out

Then comes my current Head. I could leave it there, but I’ll give you a brief description. She is very insecure. This insecurity is affecting everything. She will bad mouth the TAs to the teachers to get the teachers onside, then she will bad mouth the teachers to the TAs to get the TAs on board. She wants to be ‘down with the kids’ so is using slang when she speaks to them, the boundaries have been eroded, which means that the children do not have that respect for her. She wants to be popular so will swear in staff meetings, talk about drinking at the weekend, try and have ‘banter’ with the staff and be too friendly. It makes me uncomfortable. She wears t shirts and plain jogging pants to work- she would be the last person anyone would say was the Head teacher. There is zero professionalism. She will slag off other members of staff in the staff room, make sly digs about people to others, make bitchy comments and then wonder way people are no longer openly talking to her. I wouldn’t mind all of this if there were any redeeming qualities but the worse thing about everything is that she is shocking at her job. She forgets to do things. Important things. Paper work won’t get done, questions get ignored. There’s no communication anymore and we feel like we no longer have a leader. I am struggling to have any trust in her and I am worried about the future for everyone’s staff morale.

I’m one of the lucky ones…. I got a job.

So, I have just completed a PGCE in primary education and I am one of the lucky ones. I got a job before I graduated and I have a school to start my teaching career in and get my NQT (newly qualified teacher) year out of the way. I like my school, I am excited to teach and due to the expansion of the school there are 2 other NQTs starting too. (Yay! i have people to sit with in the staff room).

Anyway, before any of my friends start moaning about how I got a job ages ago, I always explain how it was bloody hard and I worked like a b*tch to get one. Yes, there are quite a lot of teaching jobs out there- thanks in part to the average teacher leaving the profession after 5 years- but competition is tough! I cannot tell you how many job applications I filled in. Each one taking days to complete due to having to tailor mini essays to each school. Then there were six interviews. Six gruelling, soul destroying, confidence breaking interviews. I was at breaking point. I got rejection after rejection, after rejection. My mum told me after the 5th rejection that her nerves ‘couldn’t take anymore.’. I was so past caring that for the final interview that I had I didn’t even bother wearing a suit, I wore old pants and a normal top, my shoes were pinching so I kicked them off in the lesson observation and sat bare footed on the floor. I was tired. I didn’t plan a thing and hadn’t prepared for the interview questions. I hadn’t even seen the school. I got the job.

I was absolutely ecstatic. But more so than anything, I was just grateful. This really was my last hope. I had no more options. There were no more jobs advertised so I am still so thankful now that I got a job, a foot in the door and a chance to complete my NQT year. But like I said, I worked bloody hard. From the moment jobs started to be advertised I applied. I went to school visits. I laughed at head teacher’s unfunny jokes, every day I came home and sat at my computer writing personal statements. I wasn’t one of those lucky minorities that see a job interview, go just for ‘a bit of interview practice’ and get the job. I wasn’t lucky enough to know head teachers who just ring you up and say ‘do you fancy teaching at my school? I haven’t got the time to interview.’ I really did go for it. Some people on my course still haven’t applied for a single job, some people have applied for a few but aren’t really chasing anything. Reasons are varied; ‘I don’t feel ready to teach in September’

‘I’m just lazy to be honest.’

I don’t really have to work, my husband’s rich. This course was just to get me out of the house.’

It really hit home when one of my friends text me yesterday. She had just lost out on her dream job to someone on our course (at least I was never up against anyone I knew!). She said, ‘I’m £27,000 in debt. I’m a qualified teacher and I’ve just applied for a job at a butchers.’

I hope by the end of the year, I’m not wishing I was the one working in a butchers. Stress, you will not get me….