(Image courtesy of picture quotes.com)
Growing up I remember in secondary school I always used to let my work speak for itself. I felt I had to prove my worth through the work I did….which I got on with quietly.
For example, I was good at playing sport and I recall when we used to be picked for teams…I’d be one of the last to be picked, yet as one student pointed out to me “I notice that every team you play on wins.” When I used to play hockey, I was a good left back (the irony of that position you will see), defence, yet the accolade always went to the centre forward, who made a lot of noise but didn’t make use of the wings as well as she could have. Instead, kept the ball to herself rather than using the skill set of the whole team.
During my career in sales, I was good at mentoring and training people, and when potential recruits were called in, the regional manager used to get them to sit with me so I could suss them out & if I thought they could hack the job. I was just a sales person then with no additional title who went round supporting and trying to help people through the passion I had and goodness of my heart. I had proven myself by winning regional and national awards for top sales results. So it stood to reason for me to apply for an official job as a trainer. I didn’t get it. I was pipped at the post by a person who had left the organisation due to going through a disciplinary for poor performance and lack of sales. She was now considered to be able to train people in achieving top sales. By the way, did I mention she was the “best friend” out of work of the manager who interviewed her? My regional manager was shocked as she was rooting for me to get the job as she knew my skill set. She was a talent spotter. As it so happened my manager was absent for a short while, and I was put in charge of the sales team. Not only did I quietly manage them, I motivated them, trained them, helped them meet targets for products they couldn’t sell as well as meeting my own target. My regional manager was really pleased and said I did a better job than the actual manager getting paid for it. When she returned, she took me off the team leader role, mistook my focus for stress, and made another member of the team a team leader. To which there wasn’t a very good response from the team. I didn’t mention did I that this “new team leader” I found out used to go out with the manager for drinks. At a later date when things shuffled I still managed to lead a team successfully as the team manager was absent and I was the most experienced member of the team.
Therefore maybe a career change in teaching, which I’d always wanted to do would change this situation. I would definitely be visible as I was bringing a lot of experience in with training, peoples skills, management, yet wow, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Five schools in nine years … I have many stories to tell. I left my school once I’d gained my NQT as I was being spoken to by my manager in a condescending manner. I came from an adult world, I didn’t need to be spoken to like a child…and so I landed a job in another school as Deputy in Science. The Chair of Governors had meetings with the HoD and then asked to meet with me. He very quickly spotted my potential and talent, and said in my meetings with him I covered in one session, the equivalent of 4 sessions worth of work and ideas that Heads of Dept cover. He told the Head to raise my TLR within a month of me starting. On his recommendation I was asked to join the Aspiring Leaders sessions at school.
I proved myself, and that I could train and mentor staff, taking a failing dept in one school and improving the T&L to “good.” Staff were comfortable in asking me to come to their lessons off their own back, in my non contact time, to see if I could help and advise. I was on the extended T&L team. The MAT people came to do observations, I was paired up with them and they gave excellent feedback on my work and my ability to feedback, as did many of the staff, including several nominations for “star of the week.” Despite having proved myself, the school employed an external lead practitioner to work in science and completely took over and rail roaded the work I was doing. I was being questioned by staff as to why I wasn’t doing the role anymore. I had no answers. We were told how to teach, what to teach, things were not good enough. Interestingly when this LP was forced to teach due to staff shortage, she had 2 members of supply staff in with her, and still couldn’t manage the students in our tough school. Going against everything she told us to do, she got the students copying off the board, I had feedback and reports from the staff and the students.
The school advertised for a coach for the science dept. Should I be applying for this role? As I was already doing it. No, I was told, there were bigger things coming to me. An external candidate got the role who had been out of teaching for 2 years, worked at a university, and did some research. She was employed because the interviewers liked the names of the researchers she read and thought she was brilliant. On paper she was. She struggled with every class. She did observations and staff would come to me and completely break down about the feedback. She sought help on what to say about some observations to staff as she didn’t have a clue on what she was looking for. So it was second hand feedback, not even hers. Needless to say, she left the school and I too left the school after experiencing bullying, with no support from the hierarchy and no sign of value or progression.
I have many stories from the previous schools I’ve worked at with similar themes.
I have always developed and furthered myself through leadership courses, research and reading.
I have a sense of duty, care and moral purpose in all I do. I don’t need to shout about it. Its about unity. It’s about striving to reach a common goal. It’s in my make up. It’s in my DNA. Growing up I looked after my siblings, brought them up, studied hard, supported my Mum through very tough times, was married off (not anymore!). It was my duty as the eldest child to do so. This involved a lot of sacrifices. But I did it. An inner pulse was driving that what I was doing was dutiful. Today, having a member of my family critically ill due to alcoholism, and having had my Mum being poorly for 8 years, certain family members got involved in taking over her affairs and the current family member’s affairs. In this time I did what I could, where I could including holding down an extremely stressful job in teaching, and being a TLR holder. It’s interesting that now the whole world needs to hear about this other member. It’s become a political game. Just like the previous examples. Things get played out. There is a “stepping on toes” to get to the top position, to get the recognition, to get the accolade … at the expense of what? Human behaviour supports those that shout the loudest, or trample on top of others to be seen and make themselves visible. Human behaviour needs to change. People need to see what is truly there, than the single perspective that is being presented. But this requires a degree of intelligence, care, effort and vision. It’s not always about what is clearly visible. It can be the subtle….it can be the unseen.
So, in answer to my original question
… my work may be invisible…but I’m not.
Thank you for reading and sharing my journey.
Reflections, comments or thoughts are welcome @amyjeetley
Further open, honest, reflective pieces on my journey are available www.amyjeetleyreflections.com
I’d like to thank @ottleyoconnor who was my Interim head. A talent spotter with integrity, intelligence, effort and vision…who literally told me to apply for a leadership course “Teaching Leaders” now @Ambition_Inst and all the staff I’ve worked with me who, though they were not necessarily in leadership positions, made me and my work visible. Thank you. 🙏🏼