A teacher who doesn’t want to be at your school but isn’t going anywhere… 

Ann is a class teacher who delivers ‘ok’ lessons, but doesn’t seem to have her heart in it; she lacks warmth with the children and seems to put minimal effort into her lessons. She was previously outstanding but sadly not anymore. She also hasn’t made much progress on her performance objectives even though she is clearly capable of being a great teacher. 

The head, Pete, knew he needed to speak to Ann and, whilst there were several areas that needed to improve, he had an overarching feeling: that Ann didn’t want to be at this school. This was the conversation about the conversation…read more

A difficult conversation when someone doesn’t think there’s a problem

Sometimes a conversation is difficult because the other person doesn’t understand there is a problem, you might have told them several times but feel that they don’t appreciate how serious this is or that they don’t acknowledge that there is a problem.

One of the school leadership team’s I support had exactly this issue, they had a teacher, Del, who they believed required improvement in the quality of their teaching and learning, however he thought he was good or better. Various members of the SLT had given Del feedback about their teaching and they had tried everything you could think of! Even in a feedback meeting, when again one of them was trying to get him to understand his marking required improvement and Del wasn’t getting it, insisting it was good, they even went to his books to look at the marking so they were dealing with really concrete evidence…read more.

Dealing with a member of staff who shouts at the head teacher

I first met head teacher Lisa at one of the Successful Difficult Conversations training days I run and she later booked me for the next stage of the course ‘Flexing your Leadership Style’ which I ran with her leadership team.

During the course of the day, we talked about issues that were ‘bubbling’ away in the school, the kinds of issues that exist in most schools and, in fact, most organisations: a working relationship going through its storming phase, performance issues which needed addressing, and a behaviour issue with the business manager who had, on many occasions, been angry and rude to Lisa in front of others with the most recent being on that same day. Lisa and I discussed how to approach this conversation. Lisa knew she needed to have this conversation, even though it could be tough. I’m always keen to know how successful such a conversation is and I often call heads I’ve worked with to find out and offer further advice where appropriate, so I was delighted when Lisa recounted the meeting she had…read more

When a teacher leaving a school can be a win/win

I trained a school leadership team of 7 on how to have more successful difficult conversations. When I do this, I teach them the skills in the morning and, in the afternoon, I support them approaching a difficult conversation they have ahead of them. In this school, there was a teacher, let’s call her Fiona, a subject leader with UPS 1 pay, who was not delivering good lessons as teacher and not driving her subject forward. The deputy had been having difficult conversations for months with this head, but nothing seemed to be improving. Both the deputy and the head knew they needed to move this situation forward: the ideal outcome was that Fiona started delivering good lessons and to lead her subject, to do this they needed their difficult conversations to be more successful…read more