“The saddest part about being human is not paying attention. Presence is the gift of life.”
In the mornings and evenings I try to make myself visible to all of the parents. This allows them to see me in the mornings and the evenings, to welcome their children into school. Obviously there are some days where this isn’t possible, but as much as I can, I make myself visible.
This includes whole school events, class sharing workshops, productions, etc, etc. I have seen some heads who do not make themselves present at these occasions and it is noted. Having a presence around school is necessary…….it is important for the children to see you around the school, for the staff to see you……for you to be there.
Even though I do leave early a couple of days a week, I make sure that I am available. That means my door is open. If staff have an issue arise through the day, I try to deal with it there and then. Obviously, if I am busy in a meeting or doing something that must be done at that moment, I schedule a time to see them promptly.
The same goes for parents. I have often seen heads who close themselves in their offices and hide from parents and staff. I have also seen heads who are pro-actively standing at the gates welcoming the children and parents as they come in. It is clear that parents are more supportive in an environment where the head is accessible…..where they know that if they have an issue they will be able to speak to the headteacher.
I have heard, many times, people say that their headteacher is not a ‘people person.’ That their head is better at the paperwork. Yes, as heads we have piles of paperwork to plough through, but merely dismissing the fact that a head is not good at the ‘social’ aspect of the job, is not acceptable. Clearly, we all have different strengths. But surely, a headteacher must have excellent ‘social’ skills – they are running a school! They deal with children, teachers and parents………shouldn’t this ‘skill’ be a priority when employing a headteacher. Shouldn’t it just come with the territory?
Being visible makes a huge difference. I have seen the impact this makes on the atmosphere in a school. A headteacher who walks around and says good morning, who checks in on staff to see how their class have settled, a head who is present and a real part of the school…….a head who sets the tone and sets the example. Not just the head who closes the door and lets the school day evolve without them……
Are you a leader who is seen?