I went on a time management course this week. More accurately it was about task management. Run by the NAHT, specifically for school leaders who are feeling that they need to change the way they run their lives (home and school).

I came away feeling very postive indeed!

Personal organiser

Firstly my customized A5 filofax has been taken on by at least two people. I have my diary (personalised sheets which have my teaching and meeting commitments pre-printed, holidays left blanks), class registers and seating plans, colour coordinated to-do lists. Plus post-its, whiteboard pens, highlighter and other basic equipment easily to hand and yet all in a neat handbag sized object.

I found out at the training that having different styles of to-do lists can actually make a huge difference to task management so I’m pleased that I’ve had this set-up since the beginning of the year.

I always wanted to be able to just carry around one item and have all my school life within it. I’ve never been able to get on with electronic organizers – synchronizing et al and besides it always seems to take the user ABSOLUTE AGES to put anything in their diary.  I thoroughly recommend this all-in-one approach.

Positive outcome

Secondly, I learnt a listening technique and project planning style that will be good for both meetings and lessons. Each participant completed a project outcome sheet, this included the following:

–        phrasing your intentions in a positive way

–        what will you see, hear and feel when you’ve been successful (much like assessment for learning success criteria)

–        who is involved

–        what is your very first step [thinking yourself into action – imagining yourself taking this (often tiny) action will increase the chances of you actually doing it.]

The listening technique involved working in groups of four people. We each had 15 minutes of time, the first 7 ½ minutes was for us to outline our project, setting the context, explaining our positive outcome and putting forward our first step(s).

The second half was for the other 3 people to feed back in specific ways (as they’d been listening for certain things)

It certainly was enlightening using this technique – both as a listener and as the person receiving the feedback. It makes you listen more intently, making sure you doing miss out on anything important. Receiving the feedback in clear sections seems to stimulate your brain more – can’t explain it but it works. It was a revelation in just 15 short minutes.

Forming, storming, norming, performing

My project was to have our senior leadership team feeling positive about our team performance. I was reminded of Truckman’s four stages of team-development. As I’ve been promoted and we have a new Assistant Head this year we’re still firmly stuck between the forming and storming stages.

As I told the story (relatively new senior leadership team, small school meaning everybody seems to have a hundred jobs etc.) It was apparently clear that I was feeling very frustrated about our relative lack of progress but what didn’t come out (although I was prompted to add it to my list) was my frustration that I was having to take the steps to try to resolve the problem instead of our Head. Clarity of thought came through and I was skipping into work on Friday, feeling very positive about the way ahead (that may also have been the lovely hotel lunch!).

This is all I can remember at the moment but I know that I’ll be working through some of the legion of techniques covered with the rest of the leadership team and will be reporting progress (in positive mode I have to say that there definitely will be progress) as it happens.