This week  I want to offer yet another way of thinking about how you might move forward in a particular area of your practice.

I’d like to offer you the idea of a SWOT analysis as a way of thinking about the next step in your journey – whether that is thinking generally about making progress, or focusing on one specific area of your practice that you want to concentrate on.


A SWOT analysis can be a really useful tool for helping you identify your strengths and weaknesses and understand the opportunities open to you and the ‘threats’ you might face.

The best way to approach this is to see the strengths and weaknesses as personal to you – they are your characteristics as you see them. The opportunities and threats can be seen as more related to the context you find yourself in or factors external to you.

If you do a good job of identifying the strengths and opportunities, this can give you confidence to take the next step in your professional development. Knowing what you are perceiving as weaknesses or threats enables you to:

  • talk to someone about your anxieties;
  • think about the ‘weaknesses’ you perceive yourself to have and perhaps reconsider or reframe these – the ideas of polarities I shared in an earlier post may be really helpful here;
  • think about the things you have identified as threats and consider:
    • whether they are really threats or whether they are only threats in your mind;
    • whether you need to ask for help or support and focus on exactly what aid you need to ask for.

So let’s think about an example:

What if I was thinking about trying to change my approach to behaviour management with one particular class that I am struggling with. My SWOT analysis might begin like this:


What else might I add to each section?

Now think about how this can help me:

  • Am I really making the best use of the opportunities available to me?

For example, how am I using the teacher who is eager to support me? Am I being proactive in asking for help and coming up with ideas on how they might help me? Could I approach them and ask them to do something specific – e.g. could you sit next to Jade next lesson and make sure she doesn’t interrupt the class? Could you do a specific observation focusing on classroom management (perhaps using the proforma from School Experience?)

  • Can I think about the ‘threats’ differently?

Are the pupils really thinking about me and my lessons all the time? Did I do this as a pupil?! Is it possible that if I started the lesson differently next time they would respond positively? Surely it is worth trying?!

Instead of trying to be the class’s normal teacher, or worrying that I can’t be, can I learn specific skills from them? For example how to have a structured start to the lesson.

In terms of strengths and weaknesses the messages are the same as many previous posts – are you making best use of your strengths or are you dismissing them? Can you identify one specific thing to try to address a ‘weakness’ – for example, if I know the pupils I am perhaps unfairly quick to chastise, could I select one at the start of a lesson and work hard to praise them and notice when I am becoming unfair?

So, here’s another tool to try and help you reflect and plan for change …