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Career Mistakes

Getting down with the troops

As a new head, I spent a lot of time in the staffroom at lunchtime, wanting to get to know the staff. It was a mistake, however, on three counts. First, there was a lot to do and the staff thought I should be out there doing it. Second, they didn't like having to watch their tongues. And third, I later found that casual remarks I'd made in the staffroom had been blown out of proportion. I'm sure my friendliness was counterproductive.

What's the right thing to do?

At one big school I taught in, the head entered the staffroom only by invitation. That might be a bit over the top these days, but there has to be some distance between senior leadership and the rest of the staff, no matter how good the relationships between them. Sooner or later there will be formal encounters, which are more difficult when you are all pals together.

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