Another brick in the wall

18th April 2008 at 01:00
Lately I have been bothered by one of those annoying song loops in my head. The same few lyrics keep coming to mind and then repeating themselves endlessly. The song in question is Pink Floyd's "Us and Them", which perhaps says something about the middle leadership challenges I am currently coming to terms with.

Recently, during break duty, I politely asked a group of assistants if they could disperse and ensure that pupils in quiet corners were not doing anything wrong.

I simply asked them to do the job that was required, yet I might as well have been asking them to anoint my feet and worship me. Their disgruntled faces gave them away: Who does she think she is? How dare she?

The thing is, I couldn't have been nicer about it. Generally, I think I am quite a nice, respectful person. But if that tone isn't reciprocated, I'm not beyond being a stern old witch - whatever it takes to get the job done properly.

I would prefer to be nice. I would prefer to have staff think of me fondly and smile; but a lesson I am learning is that I'm not paid to be liked. Not to say that I won't try, but sometimes it seems like a battle that just can't be won.

Some people will moan about the boss regardless of what they do and how they do it. It goes with the territory. I could be the fairest manager in the world and yet I am sure that someone would find or invent a reason to resent me.

That said, I don't want "Us and Them" to be the anthem of my working life. In my head, at least, I shall start humming happy songs about unity. How about The Farm's "All Together Now" or Sir Paul McCartney's "We All Stand Together"?

Louisa Leaman, Behaviour co-ordinator at a London school.

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