Mentoring for New Headteachers

Welcome to mentoring!

Good mentoring can be the difference between ‘coping’ and ‘feeling like you’re drowning’ in the early stages of headship. A mentor is someone who you can talk to in complete confidence, without worrying that you’re making the wrong decision and that others will get to hear of it. They’ve been there before and fully understand the pressures, strain and heavy responsibilities headship brings. You can tell them anything, from ‘what the staff are saying’ to budget worries, dealing with capability and redundancy, child protection, difficult Governors and parents to marketing, buildings maintenance and how to calm down during your holiday!

icon-coaching-understands

icon-coaching-listens

icon-coaching-advises

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icon-phone… and most of all, a good mentor phones you when you’re just not able to pick up the phone.

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Who is it for?

Mentoring is for Headteachers new to post, preferably during their first or during their second year of headship. Being a Head is very much like being an NQT all over again – you’re overloaded with information and don’t know who you can turn to as ‘moaning down’ is never an option and there isn’t really an ‘up’!

What can mentoring do for your school?

A Head who has a good mentor feels better able to do his/her job, as they have an outlet for their worries and concerns. Being able to tap in to advice from someone who has been in their shoes means that they feel more in control and are better able to deal with complex situations because they have someone with whom they can talk things through. It also means that they remain true to their vision and purpose, clear about their goals and what they are trying to achieve because their mentor helps them remain focussed, reminds them of the bigger picture when the day-to-day pressures seem overwhelming.

So how does this help the school? Every school needs a good leader and every teacher wants to work in a good school. Good leadership, where the Head is

  • clear
  • focussed
  • enthusiastic
  • energetic

will bring about good education for children … which is what we’re all about!

“If I hadn’t had such an excellent mentor when I first started as Head, I never would have had the courage to take the difficult decisions needed to make the school outstanding. My mentor supported, advised and encouraged me all the way.”

How does Headteacher Mentoring work?

Initial School Visit

An initial visit to your school by your mentor for up to half a day. You can use this time any way you choose to. You might want to walk round the school with your mentor, go into lessons, meet the leadership team, look at data / improvement plans, discuss your initial priorities for the school as a new Head etc. How you use this time is up to you!

Weekly Phone Calls

Your mentor will ring you once a week, at a time you choose. Many new Heads complain that they ‘rarely speak’ to their mentor. A mentor who doesn’t know what’s going on in your professional life probably isn’t going to be able to support you properly. On top of that, as a new Head, you often won’t have the capacity to make the call you need to and get hold of your mentor, because your days are just too busy. For this reason, with Avanti, your mentor will ring you at least once a week, whenever suits you best. It may be that using ‘dead time’ in the car on the way to school at silly o’clock in the morning is easiest … or on your way home after a tricky Governors’ meeting. You decide what works best for you and your mentor will fit around it.

Two Further School Visits

Your mentor will visit your school up to twice more during the academic year. Sometimes, when you’re getting towards the end of a very busy term, when all the staff and students are tired and tempers (including yours) are frayed, it can make all the difference when someone who’s really on your side (and only on your side) walks into your office and simply spends some time listening to you and pointing out all the great things you’ve done that term. Seeing a friendly face when you’re exhausted and beginning to wonder how you’ll ever have the energy to start a new term can mean you finish more positively than you might otherwise have done… which means you can enjoy your much-needed holiday in a better frame of mind, focussing on what you’ve done well rather than worrying about what you haven’t finished.

Emergency Call Facility

We all need someone to call in an emergency and unfortunately, those emergencies have an awful tendency to occur on a Friday afternoon at about 2 o’clock! It might be a permanent exclusion, a child protection issue, a difficult staffing issue or a nightmare parent … and all too often, the poor Headteacher is just left with it in their lap when everyone else has gone home for the weekend and they can’t get anyone on the phone. This is why we feel at Avanti that the emergency call facility is an important part of mentoring, so that when the Head feels they have no-one to speak to, they can ring their mentor for support and advice.

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