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An effective clerk is a confident clerk

Research suggests that people who are confident in their role are happier in their work and better prepared to tackle change and challenge.  The confident clerk boosts their credibility in the eyes of all those involved in school governance. Here are ten tips to become a more confident and credible professional clerk.

1.       Make sure your clerking knowledge is up to scratch.

Making sure that you are familiar with the constitutional governance arrangements for your school/academy is essential but it doesn’t end there.  A guaranteed way of boosting your clerking confidence is to enhance your knowledge.  Familiarisation with the Clerking Competency Framework gives the theoretical pointers but practical knowledge is equally important and remember knowledge acquisition is not a one-off – it is a continual learning process which leads to Tip 2.

2.       Pick-up new skills.

There is always room for improving your clerking practice and learning new skills.  For example emergent technological clerking solutions tend to enhance proficiency and boost confidence.  Networking is important here too.  Attending training courses and meeting fellow clerks are sure-fire ways of finding out about new or changed working practices and the skills (and resources) you might need to implement them.

3.       “Rinse and repeat”.

Practice is a cornerstone of success – the more you do something well the more confident you become.  It is equally important however to recognise where there are flaws in your practice – If mistakes happen – learn from them - which is a Segway into Tip 4.

4.       Build on your strengths.

Academic research shows that an excellent way to boost confidence is to recognise your strengths and weaknesses.  Building on your strengths by consolidating your clerking practice will make you feel confident.  Accepting what you do well and doing it with excellence rather than just adequately will help your mindset and enable you to recognise weaknesses and how you might go about tackling these.  And why not share your strong practices with your peers and observe them too to pick-up better practice.

5.       Ask questions.

How many times have you heard the saying “There is no such thing as a daft question” and how many times have you thought If I ask that question I might sound foolish (or unconfident).  Throughout my career, I have learnt that the former trumps the latter.  It is true that there is no ‘daft’ question and questioning things improves your understanding and demonstrates to others your confidence and desire to learn.

6.       Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes.

“No-one gets better at anything by constantly beating themselves up”.  Treat yourself kindly and with self-encouragement rather than being eternally self-critical of your mistakes.  Learn from your mistakes but do not dwell on them and you will exude greater confidence in the eyes of those you work with.  And while we are on a negative vibe here is another.

7.       Avoid negative language.

If you fall into the trap of saying “I can’t….” every time you are facing a new challenge you will quickly gain a reputation of being a can’t-do person which will harm your reputation in the eyes of others and knock your confidence.  Instead try to develop a can-do mindset and exude your inner confidence as a problem solver.

8.       Don’t be afraid to fake-it.

This is a bit of a dangerous one if used to excess but when approaching a new task or challenge it is natural to feel apprehensive (under-confident) but if you outwardly adopt a positive can-do attitude and conceal the apprehension, you will see the benefits.  People will pick-up on the can-do ‘vibe’ and respond positively to your outward confidence.  Be measured in doing this though or you may be regarded as too ‘gung-ho’ which could be counter-productive.

9.       Inwardly celebrate your successes.

Make sure that you recognise and inwardly celebrate what you have done well.  If the Chair of governors gives you a verbal pat on the back for a job well done take the praise positively.  Don’t try to counterbalance or minimise it by responding ‘OK Chair but this or that could have been better’ – that is for your own inward reflection.

10.   Enjoy!

Try to find enjoyment in the work you do. If you approach your clerking as a drudge (although I cannot understand why anyone would do so!), you will likely be perceived as a drudge yourself.  Strive to find enjoyment in your work and it will become evident in whatever you do and bolster your confidence.

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