Being credible in the classroom

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This week I had the privilege of being a facilitator on an Aspiring Headteacher's Programme. Part of the programme involved a presentation from the Headteacher of an outstanding Junior School, Orchard Junior School in Worthing. Headteacher Dr Paul Jones is inspiring in his common sense approach to providing a quality of education that goes beyond an Ofsted category. However, the first comment that many of the Senior Leaders made following their tour of the school was, "isn't it tidy? "aren't the displays beautiful? "the staff seem so happy and friendly. There is something about high quality presentation that outstanding schools do brilliantly, they are hospitable, clean, vibrant and their staff present themselves well in all aspects. Outstanding teachers, leaders and schools have high standards  they recognise that they cannot expect those kinds of standards from their pupils without modelling it for them.

Credibility in any field is about being coherent or to put it another way, walking your talk. Do what you say you are going to do, if you are promoting health and fitness include yourself in that commitment, if you expect children to be in uniform and smartly turned out make sure that you are too, if you wish pupils to present their work well, present high quality resources to them. Pupils quickly pick up on double standards and if they are minded too can make life very challenging in the classroom and therefore doubly difficult to establish a reputation as a good teacher.

Finally, it is really important to be yourself, a three-piece suit may not be for you but it is possible to be smart in other ways (although some outstanding schools insist that all their staff wear business dress or jackets whether male or female). Being well presented, in an environment which is clean and tidy, with high quality resources and follow through when dealing with behaviour issues goes a long way to building credibility. A teacher I worked with didn't have her own classroom and it was difficult to create a tidy learning environment so, she carried her own high quality pens, pencils and other resources and her classes knew that her mantra at the end of a lesson was always to "leave a room better than we found it, teachers who were thoughtful about nomad colleagues and left everything orderly and easy to manage were left a thank you post it or a small box of smarties. We talk a lot about being the best you can be for our pupils, as a teacher are you up for that challenge in 2016?

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