Talking Heads Blog #19: Tammie Prince

Leadership Biography

Name: Tammie Prince

Phase: Primary

Sector: Maintained

Region: Yorkshire

Years Served in Education: 26 years

Years Served as a Headteacher: 9 years (I have just started my second headship in April.)

Leadership Journey:

  • Went to university in USA and taught there for 10 years.
  • Hillside Primary School, Leeds- EYFS/KS1 Leader
  • Bankside Primary School, Leeds- AHT
  • Kinsley Primary School, Wakefield- DHT
  • Green Lane Primary Academy, Leeds- Principal
    • Designated NLE (continues)
    • Led Teaching School Alliance
    • Executive Principal
  • Newlands Primary School, Wakefield- Headteacher
    • Continuing as NLE
  • Leadership Coach/Mentor/Inspiration: There are far too many to name.  I tend to look at all leaders and take what I think is the best from them all to make my own style.

Twitter Handle: @Ed_Tmprince

Blog: educationsvoice.wordpress.com

Leadership Reflections

Why did I become a teacher?

Like most teachers, my desire to become an educator sprung from my love of learning. My fascination with the way people learn and how we use this knowledge to make a difference in the world led naturally to becoming a teacher. Even though I don’t have a class anymore, I do consider the whole school as my classroom and the staff as my class.

Why did you become a Headteacher?

Like most teachers, I trained to teach with no regard to being out of the classroom. Leadership was not on my radar and, as I have come to realise, was important in my own development of pedagogy for the first ten years of my career. I was able to develop my passion of teaching and learning. Then, when deciding to take my first headship I was left in a slightly confused place; I never set out to lead a school.  But, I had and still have an overwhelming desire to provide a place of learning that I would be proud for my own child to attend. I believe that every child is worthy of a school that supports the whole person and helps them develop to be productive members of society.

How do I create a culture of wellbeing?

Wellbeing has been high on my agenda. My practice regarding this aspect has grown and developed over time. Some ideas have changed, some have grown and new ones have emerged.  I have decided that I wanted to be a Mindful Leader.  The main aspects that I feel have supported my schools have been:

  • Positive Attitude- Developing and fostering positive attitudes of children and staff alike. Being verbal about your belief in the skills of the staff, recognition for the successes they achieve and encouraging the development of the children in your care.
  • Providing Opportunities- Providing opportunities for both staff and children that allows them to grow a strong pedagogy rooted in their enthusiasm and exploration of diverse, new skills. Offering wider experiences through quality CPD, Action Research, events, trips and visitors.
  • Encouraging Calculated Risk Taking- Allowing for room to try new things, apply new research, explore new aspects of learning that has the possibility to enhance the education offer of the school while also modelling for children that if there were no mistakes, no learning would take place.
  • Saying Thank You- Saying Thank You to both staff and children is important to recognize the time and effort gone into their hard work. It can be verbal, a smile, a card, an award, a fun game or a quiet chat. Take time to model celebration of achievement and sharing recognition of their successes.
  • Mindfulness- Developing my own mindfulness and the mindfulness of the staff and children. Ensuring there is opportunity for everyone to embed the life-long skills that supports our health and well-being. My own blog is dedicated to this mindfulness development and emerged from my desire to nurture this aspect of well-being.

How do I talent spot/nurture aspiring leaders?

I am always looking out for aspiring leaders.  This begins from the first moment I meet a person. I consider their words and watch their actions. This may be in interview or it may be when I begin working with them. I am looking for:

  • Conviction in strong, positive educational beliefs that is seen, not only in word, but in actions. Anyone can talk the talk; but can they walk the walk? A true leader models that ethos. Their interactions, their conversations, their lessons and their work embrace their beliefs and challenges others in a supportive but resolute manner that drives progress in whatever they do.
  • Self-reflective and Proactive- This is not about being overly critical of themselves or others. This is about them considering what they have done, the outcomes and what they can do differently next time that leads to greater success. It is about identifying a need and instead of saying, “That’s not my job.”, says, “What can I do to help?” and then following it through to completion.

When I see this, I nurture the development of the aspiring leader by giving them the opportunity to lead and follow it through with my support and guidance or the support and guidance of another leader I have already nurtured.

What is my vision for education?

When I explore the successes of other countries with high standards of education, I find one that is removed from the political process. That is my vision for education; where, as a whole, we agree on the path that leads to success of all our children, led by those people who have the greatest understanding of child development and learning, who have dedicated their lives to the education of our future and have the hands-on experience to support steady, deeply rooted strategies that improves education. My vision is that education is seen to be so valued that we agree to work together on a long-term vision that leaves blame and sudden change a thing of the past.

What makes me get out of bed every morning?

Pure and simple! Today I can make a positive difference in someone’s life. It could be a child, a member of staff or a parent. It may be through my own actions or the empowerment given to those around me.  It could be big or it could be small.  But, that day could be the defining moment that leads to success and I don’t want to miss it!

The best piece of advice I ever received was to “Lead as I want to be led.”. It has made me consider my actions carefully and compassionately.  It has allowed me to listen and be flexible.  But, most importantly it has driven me to be mindful of those around me, children, staff and families, and empower self-belief that can lead to real impact now and into the future.

I am currently reading Wonder by R J Palacio. Not the usual book on education, but inspirational all the same. It reminds me that we, the educators, have very important jobs supporting fragile lives of children to develop into well-educated and kind individuals that will lead us into the future.

My mantra is basic:

“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”

Each day I ask myself, “What can I do to get something even better?” I don’t have a secret formula for leading a school. What I do know is that I must always keep looking ahead and not be satisfied to sit back and wait. I try to instill that in the ethos of the school and give it the room to grow. When I decide to take a leap, the staff embrace the challenge and leap with me. At the end of the day, the top priority is what is best for the children right now! 

 

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