Schools are full of noise, and quite often staff meetings are no different. how do you ensure that your ideas and opinions are heard?
If you have more of an introverted personality, this can be a real issue. Competing to have your voice heard is only a small part of the challenge. Often, it’s not so much about being heard, but more about actually being listened to. How do you ensure that your ideas are taken on board and actually considered?
It would be all to easy to say that the issue lies with the leadership of the school; that it’s the headteacher’s repsonsiblity to create an environment in which everyone is heard. It would be easy to say that, because it is correct. However, for many teachers, the fact that this is out of their control simply isn’t enough.
Here’s what not to do:
- Hit and hope. When we feel like we are drowning in noise and all of our thoughts fall upon deaf ears, it is very tempting to just go for it; to blurt out whatever it is we want to say and hope that someone hears us.
- Follow the crowd. Being a part of a team who universally agree with each other and are harmoniously walking the same path together is reassuring. Sometimes, it can be tempting to just ignore our instincts and join the bandwagon of popular opinion. Don’t do it. Just don’t. Even if it is approaching 6 pm on a cold December evening and everyone wants to go home, you should state your case. You have the right to be heard.
A Good Place To Start:
There is no quick fix to being heard in a group situation. Instead, focus on building your reputation within your school. Actively present yourself as someone who is collaborative, respectful and listens to other people’s ideas, whilst still having and expressing their own opinion.
1) Tailor Your Message To Your Audience
Not everybody likes to receive information in exactly the same way. Some prefer messages to be succinct and to the point, whilst others would prefer an in-depth conversation.
Observation is key to this. In your next staff meeting, rather than sitting on the edge of your seat itching to contribute, sit back and watch. Note how people respond to messages; how do the staff who actually manage to get heard word their ideas and suggestions? How do your head teacher and SLTs deliver their own messages?
2) Stand Out From The Crowd (Occasionally)
Show yourself to have an opinion, even if it’s only to the staff in your year group or key stage. Again, know your audience; if you start spouting off your opinion to everyone without considering your approach, you’re going to ruffle some feathers. While this may be your intention, if you want to be taken seriously for the remainder of your time at this school, you need to be smart about it.
You don’t have to be the voice of opposition every single time. There is no need, and little benefit, in upsetting the status quo on every opportunity. If there is a pack mentality in your school, challenge it, but pick your battles. Be a collaborative individual, not a compliant member of a pack.
3) Timing Is Everything
Plan your actions, and put time on your side. Being overly eager and impatient will very often work against you.
In meetings, you may find more luck in letting other people exhaust themselves in conversation and waiting until the end to make your contribution. Show that you have listened to, and understood, everyone’s perspectives before putting your point of view across, and you will deliver a more compelling message.
4) Deliver on promises
Respect is earned, not given. Prove yourself to be a reliable, enthusiastic, talented teacher, who gives their all to the school and strives to be the best they can be. Offer solutions rather than just highlighting problems. Don’t just agree to help with something and then let it slip your mind; actually complete tasks and follow through on promises. Showcasing success, being true to your word, and supporting others rarely goes unnoticed.
If you earn enough respect from your peers outside of staff meetings, they are far more likely to listen to you.
5) Less Is More
Get to the point. Have you ever been in a meeting where someone takes a lifetime to reach their point? You hear their entire backstory, including how and why they adopted their pet cat, before they say anything of interest.
To improve your writing, a good tip is to print off what you have written, then go through it crossing out every sentence that isn’t necessary. If it doesn’t contribute anything, get rid of it. The same is true with speech; if it’s not going to add anything of value, don’t say it.