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Challenges of being a middle leader?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by WTDT, Oct 12, 2018.

  1. WTDT

    WTDT New commenter

    "Hey all, I'm a middle leader myself and am thinking of starting a blog/building an online course around no nonsense, practical support for struggling or new middle leaders.

    As a middle leader what do / did you find challenging about the role? What has helped you cope with the challenges? What do you wish you had?

    Thanks in advance for your help!
  2. SCAW12

    SCAW12 Occasional commenter

    When I was a middle leader, I found the challenges to be managing extra workload on top of teaching and learning. Coping with colleagues not meeting deadlines despite many reminders. The amount of tears in my office from colleagues trying to cope with workload. Prioritising. Hope that helps!
  3. curlcurlcurl

    curlcurlcurl Occasional commenter

    - More admin
    - In one school, an expectation of pretty much planning lessons for an entire team
    - As @SCAW12 said, chasing colleagues despite reminders.
    - Chasing falling on deaf ears.
    - Being used as a behaviour management tool daily rather than some teachers finding strategies to develop their behaviour management themselves.

    - Getting quicker at planning/marking etc through experience.
    - Beginning my middle leader experience in an outstanding department.
    - Being passionate about the area of responsibility.

    - More time!
    primenumbers likes this.
  4. WTDT

    WTDT New commenter

    @SCAW12, I completely understand what you mean: it's hard that our workload increases because other people are also drowning under work.

    How was SLT in supporting you with colleagues who weren't meeting deadlines?

    Thanks so much for your reply!
  5. WTDT

    WTDT New commenter

    @curlcurlcurl, Thanks for your reply, it's really interesting to hear how you coped with those (very familiar!) problems.... so you think there might have been something that could have helped you maybe in the early days that could have helped you cope? e.g. advice from other teachers/middle leaders, coaching, templates for management?

    Are you still a middle leader?
  6. englishtt06

    englishtt06 Occasional commenter

    Middle leadership? In a nutshell: all of the responsibility; none of the time or financial recompense of SLT.

    To echo others - being the conduit between senior leadership and the chalk-face can be challenging, especially when every stakeholder is at breaking point ("please could you fill out the seventh trillion request for data this month, by tomorrow morning if you could?").

    I'm a middle leader at present and extremely well-organised (if I do say so myself) therefore I do get frustrated by my disorganised team members and, also, my flighty-but-lovely SLT link (who never writes things down so often forgets!).
  7. nervousned

    nervousned Senior commenter

    Biggest challenge - being asked to act immorally with regards putting people on capability, coursework, etc.

    The only solution in the end was to leave.
    vannie and Happyregardless like this.
  8. SCAW12

    SCAW12 Occasional commenter

    SLT were good, mentioning in meetings the importance of meeting deadlines otherwise there is a negative impact on other colleagues and their deadlines. It's always the same staff who don't meet deadlines but think it is acceptable sadly.
  9. border_walker

    border_walker Lead commenter

    One of the issues for new midlle leaders is that they get promotion before they are ready. to cope with all of the work you need to be able to teach almost on autopilot. If you can't walk into any class for your subject and teach the class you are not ready for promotion.
    ATfan and primenumbers like this.
  10. SCAW12

    SCAW12 Occasional commenter

    It's not the planning of old courses that takes the middle manager's time. It's planning for courses that are changing every five minutes or new courses I had to lead that hadn't been taught before in the school.
  11. lantan

    lantan New commenter

    Second that.

    The workload is so huge that there is almost no time to plan. You have to literally plan on the fly and sometimes replan mid way. You have to be super flexible.
    To give you a real-life example: you are just about to start a KS4 or KS5 class when there is a power cut in the whole building. What would you do?
  12. border_walker

    border_walker Lead commenter

    When this happened to me, I had stern words with the caretaker who had let an electrician turn off the power in computer rooms mid lesson.
  13. WTDT

    WTDT New commenter

    I am with you there - a big frustration of mine is some colleagues not being as organised as me, but people are different (strengths/weaknesses etc) - it is just difficult when you are in turbo mode at work because of all the pressures and responsibilities.

    Are you happy in your role? Have you considered dropping the TLR?
  14. WTDT

    WTDT New commenter

    Gosh that is full on. It feels like the whole system is going to topple - ie. too much workload and pressure filtering down. Was it an easy transition out of teaching for you?
  15. WTDT

    WTDT New commenter

    My school has a large number of young new middle leaders. and there doesn't seem to be much support/guidance. Does anyone know what support they get in other schools?
  16. border_walker

    border_walker Lead commenter

    Typically none. Fixing this would reduce issues.
  17. WTDT

    WTDT New commenter

    Hmmm really interesting: that's kind of what I suspected... what kind of induction/support do you think they would benefit from?

    NB... In case anyone is interested in getting some support around being a new middle leader but doesn't want to share publicly, please feel free to drop me a DM as I'd be interested to hear about how people are finding it.
  18. MissGeorgi

    MissGeorgi Occasional commenter

    Just some general comments, might be helpful:
    I was a HOD for a short time and biggest challenges were: (aside from standard workload):

    Being asked to quickly and completely reinvent a new curriculum for the newly formed academy, tailored to the new GCSE

    Supervising and marking an entire timetable of a colleague on maternity leave(infilled with a botched mix of external and internal supply, in the end about 7 different teachers, regularly inducting new staff every week, every Tuesday and Thursday helping external supply set up every class, regularly answering questions regarding subject knowledge as few were specialists);

    Constant coaching and CPD sessions, which taught me nothing new, just took up huge amounts of time, and were very patronising, plus compulsory detention duty every week along with all other ML /SLT to supervise 70+ pupils in a "mass" detention (in the end I only had one day where there was nothing after school)

    Anti social behaviour from pupils including pupils smoking in toilets etc which was time consuming to deal with

    Constant chasing of data for two data management systems (huge, unnecessary data collection, in minute detail for every pupil);

    Being undermined by a rude colleague who would interrupt my lessons to demand whether I'd done a task

    A very rude, young and unprofessional NQT who was abrasive with aforementioned external supply (and to myself);

    Needless to say, I left that crazy place PDQ!! And walked straight into a top independent school haha

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