Author Archives: Mr Drummond

Doctoral Review Meeting – A different perspective and renewed enthusiasm⤴

from @ Diary Of A Doctoral Student

October 2022…

That was the last time I digitally penned my thoughts and it was for my call for participants for my research just shortly after my ethics was approved.

Brilliant right? But then life took went into a tailspin…

My family suffered a bereavement and (rightly so I might add), my EdD took a backseat as my family needed me.

January onwards is the absolutely worst time in a Secondary school. Prelims, attainment meetings, more meetings, interventions, meetings about the interventions, second prelims, additional supported study, Saturday schools, Easter school, immersion days and then the actual exams themselves.

And I decided to move house somewhere in there too!

I get that everyone is busy and I am envious of those who are working hard and making progress with their EdD journey. I am not looking for tiny violins to sound as you read this.

What I am saying is that there has been very little time (in my mind anyway!) to sit down and give my research the time it deserves.

I had my first review meeting this week. I was nervous. I had a presentation sorted. I knew what I wanted to say and I knew where I wanted to be. But I wasn’t there, I hadn’t made the intended progress, and I was nervous that I was going to be found out.

But it couldn’t have been more supportive. I talked…A LOT (was I avoiding the questions?) and I was honest. What did I get back? Support. From my external reviewer and from my supervisors. They know I should be further ahead. I owned that and I know that! The different perspective from someone new to my research allowed me to consider things from a different angle but it also gave me confidence that I can do this and that my research is worthy.

I finished reading “The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living” by The Dalai Lama this morning and the following quote hit me like a ton brick:

I can always complain about lack of time… I’m very busy. However, if you make the effort, you can always find some time, say, in the early morning. Then, I think there are some times like the weekend. You can sacrifice some of your fun… So at least, I think daily, say a half an hour. Or if you make the effort, try hard enough, perhaps you may be able to find, let us say, thirty minutes in the morning and thirty minutes in the evening.

If you really think about it, maybe it is possible to figure out a way of getting some time.

I have used this has my clean break…I am going to make some changes that will hopefully schedule.

Friday – regardless of my workload, I am going to leave work at 1300, head to a coffee shop and get working before going to BB at 1900. There is no point in commuting home to my new house so I should start a new routine to be productive.

Saturday – I used to complete the writing group and then ParkRun started to get in the way. I need to get a routine around my studies. I can exercise and run at any point. I will be getting to this group more often.

Generally, I have reached out to several of my support team/critical friends to try and get a bit more done, more reading done, more thinking done, and more writing done.

Deadlines have been set and I am thankful for that.

  • Completed Literature Review by August 2023
  • Participant Recruitment in September 2023
  • Interviews start from October 2023
  • Aim for a June 2025 hand in

You might be thinking…why are you then spending 30 minutes putting a blog post together that only 3 people might skim through. Accountability. I have put it in writing. I have laid it out and cleared it from my head. This will help me.

I have already put so much into this: time, effort, money! I still want to see the fruits of this labour come to fruition. I still believe it will make a difference to middle leaders in the future. There is a gap for this type of work and I am determined to finish it.

Two more years, upped pace, let’s get to work…

Path to my doctorate study and a call for participants…⤴

from @ Diary Of A Doctoral Student

Have you been appointed permanently to a middle leadership position in a Scottish Secondary school in the last 12 months?

Do you feel prepared for your role or are there aspects you wish you had been better prepared for in the lead up to your promotion?

Do you have a career story that you would like to share to help others as they prepare for leadership?

If the answers to the above are yes, then read on and find out you can help the future generations of leaders.

Hello!

My name is Kenny, and I am a Scottish Secondary school teacher of over 10 years having spent nearly 5 years as a departmental and faculty lead in 3 different schools.

My background…

I spent large portions of my undergraduate degree underperforming academically and getting passes by the skin of my teeth. When given the option on my PGDE year to enter assignments at Masters level, I declined the option, saying that I would never do any more formal education once I completed it.

After that, I spent five years passing my probation, completing a two-year Basic Expedition Leadership course as well as achieving my accreditation to become a Duke of Edinburgh supervisor and assessor.

I continued to hone my craft as a teacher (I am no way finished!) and started to gain leadership experience at a departmental level and was successful at interview to cover a maternity cover as a department head. After a fantastic time in a great department, I realised that I needed and wanted a deeper theoretical understanding to support my career journey. It had begun to niggle at me that I didn’t go for that Masters credit during my PGDE. When I returned to my substantive post, I applied to do my Masters in Educational Leadership at Strathclyde University thinking that I could get that done before going for a full time PT post. At the same time, I did think it wise to strike whilst the iron was hot and applied for a few PT jobs that were being advertised thinking it was worth a shot.

To my surprise, I was successful at both so in August 2017, I set off on an adventure both as a new Principal Teacher and as a Masters student. I had THE best time engaging with research, conversations with some of Strathclyde’s finest academics but also my fellow students.

However, I was riddled with imposter syndrome and always felt I did not have the academic or literacy skills needed to succeed. After a lot of hard work and dedication, I graduated with Merit with a Masters in Educational Leadership.

Why am I telling you this?

I am indulging you in a little of my story as it is important to the current leg of my professional journey and the doctoral research that I am currently engaging in.

As part of my doctoral studies, I completed a systematic literature review entitled “What elements of professional learning impact the leadership development of middle and senior leaders in schools in Scotland? A systematic review of the literature.” where I I engaged in Scottish research in the past ten years with a focus on leadership development and preparation for middle and senior leadership.

It will likely be no great surprise at the five key themes which permeated these nine articles:

  • Collaboration and Relationships (8 articles)
  • Formal Programmes (8 articles)
  • Reflection (5 articles)
  • Coaching and Mentoring (3 articles)
  • Practitioner Enquiry (3 articles)

Although it is clear that there are links between the themes above, there were also limiting factors mentioned which hinder development. These were time, trust, and the needs of individual development versus the needs of the system.

However, many of the articles merely mention these as themes for professional development and do not go into detail regarding their effectiveness. This is the area that I wish to explore.

The convergence of my research and my story

Having secured a permanent middle leadership position within the first four years after my probation, I have always been anxious regarding my own ability to be both a great classroom teacher at the same time as a great departmental or faculty lead.

It leads me, amongst other things, to ask:

  • What, if anything, could I have done better to prepare me for a formal leadership position?
  • Should I have spent longer honing my craft as a classroom teacher?
  • Are there specific elements (above or otherwise) that we should be concentrating on more in developing leaders?

And now over to you!

This is the part where you come in…

This research aims to address a gap in knowledge in the Scottish context around the perceptions of new middle leaders in Scotland’s secondary schools and their preparedness for their first middle leadership role. I wish to investigate what activities and support that made leaders feel prepared  and their views on what they might have done to feel more prepared.

The study will use narrative inquiry to highlight the stories of middle leaders and the variety of perspectives that might emerge regarding preparation for leadership, promotion, and the confidence of leaders in carrying out their duties.

Participants will be asked to reflect on their careers to date and to articulate the preparedness they feel for taking on a middle leadership role in a Scottish secondary school. Participants will be offered the chance to consider their thoughts and feelings before an interview takes place, the interview then providing an opportunity for participants to retell their stories talking about the impact that particular events and experiences have had on their journeys. A follow up interview a few months later will allow for collaboration of the story told. This will allow the participant to ensure accuracy in the data collection from the initial interview, contribute to the analysis and allow both me and the participant the opportunity to add to the data after reflections from the initial interview.

How can I take part?

Complete the form below, scan the QR code, or email kenneth.drummond@strath.ac.uk 

 

ARMTP and the Quest to the Thesis Stage⤴

from @ Diary Of A Doctoral Student

 

Bitmoji ImageI haven’t updated my blog since April and a lot has happened since then both in my doctoral studies, my work life and my personal life so I thought this would be a perfect time for an update and let you know what’s been going on and what are the plans for moving forward in my research!

The last time I updated this blog, I was going into the ARMTP module – my thesis proposal. A massive piece of work that was going to spell out what I was to focus my research on over the next three years. I was also leading a faculty of 18 staff and 6 subject areas through another cancelled exam year. I was also planning the small matter of a wedding in the middle of the COVID19 pandemic.

I thought I was doing okay. I thought I was reading enough. I thought I had the balance just right. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Despite excellent guidance from my supervisors, I didn’t do enough reading and my rush to finish the proposal resulted in a unsatisfactory in a number of themes.

However, despite in normal circumstances this proposal being a “one shot” attempt, I was handed a lifeline. On the basis of the wedding plans changing on a daily basis throughout June, and the small matter of a global pandemic affecting school life, I was given another submission in order to create a more detailed and coherent proposal.

I was not going to pass up this opportunity.

Under the guidance of my supervision team, I stopped writing. I closed the proposal document. And I read. I read as much as I could on a theme each week. The first I looked at the current state of education in Scotland both in the research and policy contexts. The next week, I concentrated on teacher preparation and how leaders prepare themselves to take on leadership roles. Reading was the most important element that was drastically missing from my studies. And not just skimming the surface, reading for depth. Letting myself get lost from paper to paper and delving into ideas that interested me. This lead to a much clearer picture of where my research question sits in the education sphere:

“In what ways do new middle leaders in Scottish secondary schools feel prepared for their role?”

This lead me to a much better understanding of my methods. I had initially planned to questionnaire all teachers on their thoughts on leadership, who were leaders, why were they leaders, what skills and qualities did leaders have to have, before then moving on to interview current leaders about the preparedness that they felt and how this affects them on a day to day basis.

This is close to my own experience as I have mentioned before. I was promoted early in my career having taken on a leadership role just over three years after my NQT year. There are times when I don’t feel as prepared as I would like to be but how much of this is my preparatory activity and how much of this is just the role and challenges that are faced by middle leaders in their jobs.

However, I learnt a valuable lesson from my first submission – always answer your question and always collect data that will help you answer that question. There was no need to questionnaire all teachers. If I want to answer a specific question, then the method should follow this. I needed much more focus on being clear in my question and the methods that follow.

So…what happened next? Thanks to intensive support from my supervisors and their guidance, advice, and forcing me to focus on one specific aspect at a time, I passed the proposal. I have plenty of work to do and I still have development in terms of the clarity I give my research and ensuring that I am defining my research and the participants appropriately.

November and December have been pretty mental in schools (as they always are) but I have gone into the Christmas break with a renewed enthusiasm for my research and I am looking forward to getting into 2022 with a improved routine to ensure my research gets the time it deserves.

So, my tips for those on the #StrathEdD (other EdD’s are available!) who are heading into the thesis stage:

  • Read. Read research similar to your own. Let yourself go down the rabbit holes. Read for depth. Don’t skim the surface. Have a focus week where you only read research in one specific area before moving on.
  • Always make sure you have a reason for making the decisions you are making. Why are you doing that? What will it achieve? How will it answer your question?
  • Get yourself a team you can bounce ideas off of (and have a bit of banter with!). Hat tips to my team – @AEOdeneal@Miss_McF, and @Stephanie_Peat.
  • Reflect on how much you are doing and what you are doing! It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Do little bits, often. Take a break if you need to. You will need it. Don’t be afraid to take it and come back with renewed enthusiasm.

let's goThat last tip is what I am going to use this page for from now on. Even if no one reads it, this will be a place to provide an update on what I have been reading, how it is changing my thinking and, perhaps most importantly, why it is important to my research.

I have had a lot of ups and downs on this journey so far but I am hitting 2022 with a renewed enthusiasm for my research, the importance that it has, and the impact that this could have on education moving forward.

Let’s go…

Where do we go from here…⤴

from @ Diary Of A Doctoral Student

It has been a while since I have written a post on my blog as I have been spending all of my  time either working (schools aren’t easy places at the minute!) or writing a systematic literature review.

check box

Despite not really having an Easter holiday and spending most days in the literature, I found the process of the systematic literature review difficult but highly rewarding and it has given me skills, knowledge and insight as I move into the ARMTP module.

This involves me looking at what I am going to spend the next 3-5 years reading, studying and writing 60,000 words on. Not an easy decision to make!

At this time, I am looking to focus on educational leadership, teacher professional learning and teacher professionalism.

Having completed my Masters in Ed Leadership, I have been interested in leadership, the dynamics of this and the gap between research, policy, and practice. I have also been interested in the idea of ambitious practitioners who go into leadership early in their careers versus the leaders who spend more time as a classroom teacher before moving to the next stage in leadership (PT/FH).

Who is better equipped? Does it matter? Can it be researched?

The more I have read, the more I have realised that this is a very tricky area to research, and my own bias (as I was a younger ambitious leader with imposter syndrome!) may play heavily in any large-scale thesis.

As part of Methods of Enquiry, Literature and Scholarship, I have been looking at professional learning in middle and senior leaders and one of the articles by Dr Joan Mowat has really got me thinking and (dare I say it) excited about looking into the idea of “leadership at all levels”. As Dr Mowat has said, it is under-theorised and, although mentioned a lot in current Scottish policy (from the Donaldson Report onwards), it is not something that we know exactly what it means both in theory and in practice.

I might also be able to link it to my initial ideas around “Ambition vs Experience” but I hopeful to bring in the GTCS standards, their recent changes, Donaldson, National Improvement Framework, thoughts on workload, health and wellbeing and teacher professionalism. The possibilities are endless and daunting and this is why it is cathartic to write this post and commit thoughts to writing.

A draft question may be:

“What are a teacher’s views on the skills, abilities, knowledge and capacity required in order to become a leader in their classroom and beyond?”

“Why do teacher’s decide to step into promoted posts?” (leadership, the power, the status, the money, to move out of school?)

“What are a teacher’s views on their own professionalism with regard to leadership at all levels or leadership more generally?” (do they think they should be leaders? What do they think they should be doing? Are they happy just being classroom teachers?)

My early thinking is around researching into this would be mixed methods starting with mass-scale questionnaires at all levels of the teaching profession looking into what leadership means to them, their understanding of their leadership responsibility and how this relates to the idea of Teacher professionalism. I would then look to receive qualitative data by means of focus groups to spot any patterns that have come out from questionnaire’s (either in roles in the schools or sectors [not sure if I should keep to secondary or branch out]). This seems traditional in a research sense and may change as my thinking develops in this module around methods.

In terms of ethics, I don’t see there being too many challenges given that the route I initially plan to take is quite traditional in the collection of data. I think I may come across honesty issues around teachers. How many teachers would be comfortable admitting they went into promoted posts for the money? How many classroom teachers would openly admit that they don’t show leadership in the classroom?

There are lots of things still to be considered like refining the question, the geographical context, and the sector that I choose to focus in on.

If you have any thoughts of your own having read this, please get in touch. One of the things that I am finding the most beneficial about this course is the professional connections and dialogue that it promotes. We learn best when we learn together!

Lean On People….Because They Are Leaning On You!⤴

from @ Diary Of A Doctoral Student

So...I have just came off of my first proper session of 2021 where I set goals, stuck to them and I feel productive. I hope the feeling lasts but I know that it may not and I have to embrace this.

This term has been tough. Really bloody tough.

Leading a faculty remotely, with increased pressure from national and local government to “up our game” in the digital provision and the lack of clarity of where we are going when it comes to exams has been like trudging through thick mud. Something more akin to my Spartan races. I am exhausted. My staff are exhausted. Everyone is working as hard as they can to give the best for our young people.

My #StrathEdD work has taken a back seat and with a formative feedback loop becoming a closer deadline than I comfortable with, I have joined the Saturday morning writing group organised by the amazing Lorna Anderson. This is a really supportive group which is informally formal (is this a thing?). It allowed me to set a goal, and then gave me time to stick to it, and then come back to report to the group.

At first, I tidied up my office (one of my classic procrastination tactics). “It really needs done” is what I kept telling myself. So I did that. I then went for another coffee. “I really need this” is what I tell myself. I then looked at the time and 20 minutes of my first hour had gone! I really needed to get on as I couldn’t go back to the group with nothing to show for my efforts other than a tidy office!

And with a target of screening my articles through their abstracts, I set to work. Having a target to get to and having the social pressure not to fail led me to finding the motivation to keep going. Then what happened? I actually became engrossed in it all and didn’t want to stop.

This is the stage that I love of academia. I always find starting the hardest. Then I get into it (often after an hour or two) and I don’t want to stop often at the most inappropriate times as I only have a couple of hours to spare and the motivation comes too late. I love the feeling of getting engrossed in a task, reading research, finding differences of opinion and generally getting involved in all things academia.

Seeing everyone’s faces, hearing stories and sharing our progress at the end of the session was great. I managed to get to my target and start writing this post and I was chuffed to tell everyone. It was also refreshing to hear from others who hadn’t quite made their targets and that it was okay. “You are further than you were at 10am”. Lorna’s encouragement echoing the thoughts of all others.

I have learnt a valuable lesson today. I may have already knew this but it is certainly brighter lesson now more than ever. If I am going to get through the work of this EdD, as well as balance my professional life and my personal life, I need to

”Lean on others….because they are leaning on you”

MELS Bells! – Embracing and overcoming the feeling of not doing enough!⤴

from @ Diary Of A Doctoral Student

Bitmoji ImageSo I had done it! Thrown myself in at the deep end and off I went to the first session of my Strathclyde Doctorate – MELS – Methods of Enquiry, Literature and Scholarship.

COVID 19 has created some pretty weird scenarios for us all to cope with in the world. Normally, I would jump on a train and head off into Glasgow to a random room on campus and be met with those comforting nods of other students before we would collaborate and support one another face to face. There was a sense of actual human connection. And here I was, in my own office, making sure that my lighting was okay, before logging in and seeing some anxious faces waiting to see what was in store for us. It just wasn’t the same.

Imposter syndrome immediately set in. Simple things such as people job titles… headteachers, quality improvement officers, those working for universities, SQA, Education Scotland. I was intimidated. I was nervous. I didn’t think I had it in me. To an extent, I still don’t.

One of my big problems during my masters was keeping up with the reading and pre-tasks. I felt like a charlatan at sessions as I cobbled my way though with some awkward silences and thinking on the spot. I was determined that this time was going to be different. I would keep up to date and do all of the pre-tasks. And I did…and I still felt it wasn’t enough.

Now I have to be clear…. the community of #StrathEdD is an amazing support network. I have more WhatsApp groups than I have ever had…. A StrathEdD one, A tutor group one, a leadership one so far! And there is always the Twitter community with so many experienced ears and hands to listen and type words of encouragement and support.

However….it does have a down side. There were so many of fellow students posting their reading, their quotes from journals, their book collections. I felt an extreme plummet of my morale. How were these amazing people finding the time? I knew some of them were in high pressured jobs, had families and were still finding time to post their progress when, some weeks, I was not finding time to do anything.

I started a new role last January. I went from leading a maths team of 4 to leading a faculty of 15. I love my new school, I love the aspirations we have, the values we believe in and the effort we go to for our young people. I am fully committed to my job. I am committed to my team. I owe it to them to lead by example, give it my time and effort for the benefit of the team, the pupils we serve and the school as a whole.

Another big part of my life is exercise. I understand the importance of keeping fit and healthy not only for my physical wellbeing but also my mental wellbeing (plus it allows me the odd beer or three!). And so I will work until 1800, get home and get dinner and next days lunch organised by 1900, exercising around 2000 and then finally sitting down around 2100. I didn’t (and still don’t) have the time or effort on a nightly basis to make a good go of uni work.

But that’s what it takes…time and effort. And I was not finding the balance. Weekends would come and I would sometimes make a dent but there was still the twitter feeds, the WhatsApp groups, the intellectual conversations all indirectly telling me in my head that I wasn’t doing enough to keep up.

And so here I am, at the start of my Christmas break, with two weeks in front of me with minimal social contact planned and I have made a realisation…this is my journey. No-one else’s. Mine.

At the start of this course, Prof. Kate Wall described two different types of student…those who do little and often and those bingers who will do lots in a short space of time. I have made my peace with being a binger. I make no apology for this. I need the space away from work to concentrate on my doctoral studies. I will always do little bits when I can during term time but I know that I have time. I have this break. I have the Easter break and I need to concentrate on my journey and not the journey of others.

I have taken on a massive commitment. I have fast tracked my credits and doing two doctoral modules in a year with three writing years as a minimum. A four year doctorate was one of the enticements that brought me to Strathclyde. I worry I have made the wrong decision. I have contemplated going and doing the Masters modules just so that I can get more practice at the critical reading, the analysis, the academic writing. Again, I have realised after the first half year that this is my journey and it may take me longer than this. I have realised that this isn’t failure. This isn’t a bad thing. This might have to be what works for me.

And this is one of the reasons that this blog exists. I need to be able to make myself accountable. I need the space to express myself and express that it is okay to not be like everyone else. Potentially no one will read this. I’m okay with this. It’s out there to help others if they feel it helps but it is designed for me. I have targets for this holiday. I want to read more around my subject. I want to get the schematic set out for my 6000 word systematic literature review. I want to get my research question honed and my searches done. However, I have realised that I will not finish it but I have time. I have Easter. I know this is my journey. I am a binger and I will do this…regardless of how long it takes me.

Hello⤴

from @ Diary Of A Doctoral Student

Hello!
My name is Kenny and I am addicted to education!

I spent large portions of my undergraduate degree not academically achieving brilliantly and getting passes by the skin of my teeth. When given the option on my PGDE year to enter assignments at Masters level, I scoffed at the thought saying that I would never do any more formal education once I completed it.

After that, I spent five years passing my probation, completing a two year Basic Expedition Leadership course as well as achieving my accreditation to become a Duke of Edinburgh supervisor and assessor.

I honed my craft as a teacher (I am no way finished!) and started to gain leadership experience at a departmental level and was successful at interview to cover a maternity cover. After a fantastic time in a great department, I realised that I needed and wanted more theory based knowledge. It had began to niggle at me that I didn’t go for that Masters. When I returned to my substantive post, I applied to do my Masters in Educational Leadership at Strathclyde University (where else!) thinking that I could get that done before going for a full time PT post. At the same time, I did think it wise to strike whilst the iron was hot and applied for a few PT jobs thinking it was worth a shot.

To my surprise, I was successful at both so in August 2017, I set off on an adventure both as a new Principal Teacher and as a Masters student. I had THE best time engaging with research, conversations with some of Strathclyde’s finest but also my fellow students. I was riddled with imposter syndrome and always felt I did not have the academic or literary skills in order to succeed. With the support of my fiancée (and proof reader) Claire, course leader Joanna Holmes, and countless others, I was able to graduate with Merit with a Masters in Educational Leadership.

AND THEN THE WORLD WENT TO POT!

In the madness of working from home, the niggle of that next level started to eat away. It started to eat away at Claire too who had completed her Masters a few years previous. We had to cancel our wedding and we needed something to do for the next year (or few) so whilst Claire applied for a Doctorate at Glasgow University, I was encouraged on Twitter by Kate Wall and Lee Coutts to get along to the Doctoral showcase where I was utterly bedazzled by some of the amazing academics I met, a community of scholars who all kept each other afloat whilst they took on this challenge in some difficult circumstances in their own full time jobs. I was in awe. I wanted some of that and let’s face it…I quite liked the thought of being called Dr Drummond.

And so I jumped in that world. The wider world got even madder and I am nearly a full semester into my #StrathEdD journey. I had always considered blogging and I thought this would be a better time that any to get started. I am a little later that I had planned. School is busy. Life is busy. But whilst I was doing some reading and watching a video by Simon Sinek (Why Leaders Eat Last), I felt I needed to get started. Even if nobody read this, it is out there. I am making that commitment. I may be procrastinating more but I think it is important to write how I feel, what I need to do and reflect on how this experience is changing and challenging my thinking and as Simon Sinek said – seeing your goal written down and achieving it will give me a hit of dopamine.

So that’s why I am here. I’ll blog on my first few months of the course in my next post.

If you have read this…first, thanks! Please feel free to leave a wee comment if you have had a similar experience, say hello or correct any spelling!

If you haven’t made it this far… I’m not too fussed…I’m just after the dopamine!