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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Investing in People - Why It Matters


I was scrolling through my twitter feed last term when the tweet above caught my eye.  In all honesty, Jason's tweets often catch my eye, but this one was particularly salient in that it absolutely resonates with me, both philosophically and situationally.

Let me explain.


Philosophically


I am a very strong believer in growing and developing the people around me.  I could outline a number of different ways to illustrate this, but for the purposes of this post I want to highlight just two.  Both examples are long term projects designed to build capacity and capability in our school (as individuals, teams and as a community), with an emphasis on sustainability and consistency.

Example one is our Educational Coaching journey.  Part of the training we have provided has included a one day, certified training, for all our staff (including our office team, teacher aides and Board members) so that everyone understood the model we use - this training was in addition to the in-depth training for those teachers who wish to be coaches.  Coaching training and development is an ongoing investment in our people.

Example two is the investment in, and capacity building of, my senior leadership team.  This has involved regular half day workshops by an outside leadership expert over several years, where we have been developing and shaping our skills as a team to meet the demands of our particular setting.  We have had a particular focus on 'learning leadership' where we have been building collective efficacy.  We have been doing this in order to grow all our teachers and to improve outcomes for students.

Both initiatives have been a significant investment in terms of time, money and potential.   

Time
Great professional development shaping shouldn't be rushed.  Instead, it should be planned for, shaped and carefully considered.   

Money 
An investment in developing your people can not always be on the smell of an oily rag; sometimes we need to prioritize our fiscal considerations around our biggest asset, our people.   

Potential
When we see potential in our people, we need to nurture and grow it.  

Thus far, you might be able to philosophically see where I sit in terms of the above quote.  That people matter and investing in them is important.  It is one of the reasons I like beginning teachers (BT or if you are from the UK, NQTs).  When we employ a BT, we are looking for someone who is open to learning, thinks 'above the line' and has that special 'spark' of potential (among other things).  We can then put them into our induction and support programme, and carefully nurture and grow their abilities as an educator.  


Situationally


In terms of situationally, here is why the above quote resonates.

At the end of last year I lost two outstanding team members (who were following partners to other parts of the country).  One who had been involved heavily in both initiatives, and the other who had been ear tagged for in depth coaching training.  Suffice to say, a loss to the team.  Most recently we found out one of our other young 'up and coming' stars, someone we had trained in coaching and were mentoring in leadership, had been shoulder tapped for an exciting opportunity.  Another blow, and another loss.  

I will tell you what I told the people we were handing them onto.  

Yes, we were sorry to see them go, but not at all sorry for the investment, support and growth that we had given them.  You see, at the end of the day, it is irrelevant whose students benefit (theirs or ours) because we could be satisfied knowing that the children and the people they were working with, would be the recipients of great teachers with transferable skills.  That has to be a win win situation. 

It is at this point where the philosophy really comes into its own.

If we only invested in the people that stayed, we would be doing a disservice to the children in all our schools.  Imagine if every school trained, mentored, coached, supported, and invested in their people to the same extent, or more!  Imagine the quality and the calibre of teacher we would have in every class, and every school, in every area and in every country.  How great and comforting as a leader would it be to know that every applicant for teaching jobs at your school was so well 'grown' professionally that all you have to do is induct and build on that foundation!  There would be no issues around teacher competency or capability.  

At the end of the day we are in the business of education and creating the future.  So, yes it would be great if every teacher you invested in stayed, but change is good and new people bring new ideas and innovations, which is healthy.  Irregardless if our people are with us for a short time or a longer time, an investment in people is an investment in our system.  

Ultimately, we invest time, money and in a persons potential, for the benefit of all our children; yours and mine.   The better trained and supported our teachers are, the more equipped and robust our schools and education system is.

Is that not a philosophy worthy of investing in?

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