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What makes a good advisor?

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by MrsMusgrove, Jul 8, 2016.

  1. MrsMusgrove

    MrsMusgrove New commenter

    I'm taking up a new role as an education advisor/consultant. This is very different to anything I have previously done. Despite teaching 23 years, I'm very nervous about doing the role justice and supporting teachers in a way that is positive, supportive and effective. I'd like to hear your own views about what makes a good advisor either from consultants you have worked with, or perhaps if anyone out there is working in a similar role?
  2. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Worked as one over a period of several years in two separate disciplines. I think that you need to keep abreast of very current developments in education because in theory you have the time to read, research and résumé.This is a key feature of the job. The ability to adapt to a range of audiences, think on your feet and have a good presentation skills are fundamental I would say. Also when you need to get back to someone do so within a time frame. Being able to 'action plan' and know what it is you / the client wants to see as a result of your / their actions also very important.I would also say that you being accountable for your input is crucial so ensure that things are documented thoroughly. Good Luck
    MrsMusgrove likes this.
  3. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Oh yes - 'street cred' helps enormously. Folk will be very suspicious if you are advocating things that you would not be able to address yourself - if you get my drift ?
    MrsMusgrove and ViolaClef like this.
  4. senlady

    senlady Senior commenter

    It's difficult to say without knowing if you are talking about a particular subject or a particular area of SEN or something else.

    In general - excellent time management is essential.

    Is there anyone in the role at present and are you getting any handover time?
    MrsMusgrove likes this.
  5. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I think you have to be sensitive and listen to the teaching staff.

    Depends whether you are being 'imposed' upon someone or you think it's a genuine call for help. If you suspect you've been recruited to 'set things to rights' or 'sort them out' then be prepared to meet with a lot of resistance. That resistance may be unfair. It could be that the people you're expected to 'sort' are actually fairly poor practitioners and desperately do need to change but they still won't thank you.

    So my advice (as someone who did outreach but wouldn't call myself an advisor) is: Softly, softly. Even when you DO know it all you should still adopt an air of humility and willingness to listen.
  6. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    In deed . ' Beware the mantle of expertise ' as one former Head advised once.
    MrsMusgrove and grumpydogwoman like this.
  7. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    A rather more polite version of: Nobody loves a smart-a r se. ;)
    MrsMusgrove and senlady like this.
  8. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    advise, don't direct. Don't keep selling the same old same old for a 20 year career as one Maths adviser round here did. When it got to the stage where he had never taught the national curriculum in any of its many forms and our NQT was not even born when the adviser was appointed his advise seemed rather out of date!
  9. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    What is your area of expertise? EYFS? Primary? Secondary? A particular subject/subject area? If we knew we might be able to help a little more?
  10. grumbleweed

    grumbleweed Star commenter

    For me, the single biggest thing was being able to build a relationship, I'm not O FSTED, I'm likely to be working with someone more than once, especially if the school gets an inadequate inspection.
    In order to do that I think you need to be able to really listen, (remember the two ears one mouth, use accordingly!), know your stuff, be prepared to get your hands dirty. Acknowledge the constraints and difficulties people are working with, and celebrate successes.
    oh and develop a thick skin, not everyone will welcome you with open arms.
    I'm early years so I tend not to work above year one.
    MrsMusgrove and grumpydogwoman like this.
  11. duttk

    duttk New commenter

    From experience- remember you're there to offer advice whether they choose to take it or implement it is their decision not yours. Be down to earth, remember often people know the solutions and the best course of action, they just may need help to get there. Be supportive, you're not there to find fault but to help although people may think you are OFSTED and act accordingly! Try to determine as early on how on board people are with questions that require them to reflect and buy into the process. Listen and don't take poor attitudes/ defensiveness/ criticism as any reflection on you. Finally, remember kids are a lot easier to work with than adults and often it helps to work with adults as though they are kids.
    MrsMusgrove likes this.
  12. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    How many schools can afford "advisors" and "consultants" now anyway.
  13. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    The worst advisors I've come across are those that arrive knowing what they want the school to do and then micromanage the school into doing it.

    During my advisory stint I viewed it as a developmental role - think "coach" or perhaps mentor for the very weakest schools. My goal was to empower and teach them to take the lead themselves, never to take the lead for them.

    Listen to where they think they're at, ask questions and look at reality to find out where they're actually at and then support them to make decisions about what they need to do next and how they are going to do it. Signpost and train on relevant resources. Whatever you do, don't do all the thinking for them, they'll never learn if you do!

    Good luck, it can be very rewarding depending on the level of meddling from your bosses.
    DrEmmaKell and MrsMusgrove like this.
  14. MrsMusgrove

    MrsMusgrove New commenter

    It's a subject leadership role. Fortunately, the current post-holder will be on hand for a term as a 'buddy!' I'm also working alongside a very experienced and knowledgable advisor who I think will appreciate me asking questions ( certainly hope so!).
  15. MrsMusgrove

    MrsMusgrove New commenter

    Thank you all for the comments. Incredibly useful! And advice which I will refer to when I'm feeling up against it or out of my depth. I'm excited but also nervous, scared, keen to just get stuck in!
    Thanks again.
  16. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    Thought it was proper teachers they couldn't afford-eg those who are older, more expensive and know too much to be fooled.
  17. DrEmmaKell

    DrEmmaKell New commenter

    Firstly, the fact that you're asking the question is a good sign!

    Secondly there is plenty of cynicism out there and many schools are still investing plenty in advisors to 'close their gaps' or address their weaknesses. At worst, advisors are perceived by busy teachers as people who 'can't hack it in the classroom'. Also, people who are almost obliged to point out flaws in current practice so they can wave their wants, report 'impact' and walk away with a hefty pay package.

    As a middle leader of 10 years, I've worked with many of them!

    Worst examples:

    Patronising or stressing out the teachers so they feel they have an extra burden rather than an extra support.

    Being in any way out of touch with latest developments (agree with the post above that you have to be absolutely abreast of what's going on).

    Muddying the waters re. line management structures - too many cooks etc.

    Divisive - clear affiliations with certain staff over others.

    However, there have also been many excellent examples, and these are people who:

    Empathise with and absorb themselves in the school's ethos - this can be REALLY challenging if you're there one day a week or less, but I think it's essential.

    LISTEN to the teachers and become someone who enhances communication and collaboration.

    Gets involved - team teaching, leading lessons, showing 'how it should look' with actual students.

    Is clear, focused and realistic about what can/must be achieved and extremely well-organised about achieving it.

    Gets stuff done during time in the school - not so much observing teachers and reporting back to the HT but getting SoLs written according to latest changes and developments alongside teachers, moderating exams, diagnosing strengths and areas for development in students' work.

    Is a it of a 'wise owl' - someone teachers can respect and turn to (without usurping the LM structure) - someone the HoD can lead on for advice on more confidential matters - a sounding board and a source of practical advice.

    All the very best with it. It's an idea I have flirted with, but am going to save it until I've earned a few more stripes of my own and until I'm not sure I'd rather be prancing in front of Year 9 five times a week!
  18. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    :eek: You don't have to answer, but what the heck subject do you teach?

    I've used 'prancing' to describe parts of the synchronised swimming and gymnastics this week...but surely year 9 don't do those five times a week?!
  19. DrEmmaKell

    DrEmmaKell New commenter

    Ahem. I get quite carried away when explaining certain concepts in English and MFL... Heck, I go with the flow. There's role play, and quite a lot of giggling.
  20. DrEmmaKell

    DrEmmaKell New commenter

    On reflection, the 'know your stuff' bit is huge. Busy HoDs don't always have time to read the latest reports or be abreast of what the best schools are doing. Is there a model for this particular area which we could adapt to fit for our school? Can you show me an example of what a Grade 9 looks like in our subject? What support is there available for this teacher who wants/need to develop in a certain area?

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