Last Friday marked the end of my fifth year as the Director of Studies at International House Bydgoszcz. When I moved here I thought that I would be a bit bored with the job after 5 years and it would be time to move on. I’m very surprised and happy to say that that is not the case at all, and I’m not planning to go anywhere anytime soon. I’ve written this post to share some of the things I’ve learnt from five years as a Director of Studies and some of the highlights of the job for me.
What I’ve learnt
Perspective is difficult to achieve, both for teachers and for you. Once you’ve got it, it’s both important to remember and hard to understand that others might not have it.
Patience helps, both with yourself and others.
Emotional reactions are a normal part of any job, but you need to learn when it’s OK to let them happen and when it’s better to wait.
You’ll deal with the same issues and hear the same complaints repeatedly, and it’s a lot less frustrating when you accept this.
The effort isn’t seen, the results are. Think about how they’ll be perceived.
There will always be accusations of favouritism, regardless of how much work you put into making things as fair as possible.
Difficult decisions are still decisions that have to be made. Know that they’re the best decision you can make at that point in time and move on.
Communication is key.
Gratitude makes a huge difference to how everybody feels. Express it sincerely and often.
Managers need feedback just as much as teachers do, but it’s hard to create an environment where you get it. When you get negative feedback, don’t fight it or get defensive about it. Accept it and learn from it. Show gratitude for it. Model how you want your staff to respond to feedback.
Crisis points are where huge amounts of learning happens.
Sometimes your teaching gets neglected when there are so many other things to think about.
You have to take care of yourself and your physical and mental health.
What I’ve loved
Watching teachers develop.
Seeing their confidence and skills improve week on week and year on year.
Seeing what they go on to do next, and how our school has help them to do that.
Watching senior staff develop.
Seeing how they grow into their roles.
Helping them develop their skills.
Watching myself develop, as a manager, trainer and person.
Learning how to be kind to myself and accept the decisions I’ve made, including when they go wrong.
Improving my communication skills.
Seeing our school grow and change.
Seeing students progress through the school, especially when I’ve made decisions about their progress in the past.
Working with fantastic colleagues who make going to school something I look forward to.
What I’m looking forward to
Trying new things out at our school.
Watching our students continue with their progress through the school.
Hearing about what our teachers do next, both inside and outside teaching.
Continuing to grow and learn, and help others do so.
Seeing what happens next.