– A deeply forensic approach to the analysis of pupil outcomes
– Lightning quick responses to demands of all kinds and,
– Consistently high levels of visibility
The answer I most often hear in response to this question, is:
‘There quite simply isn’t enough time to focus on me. I spend all of my time and more [i.e. evenings and weekends] focusing on school improvement, because that’s what I’m here to do – to focus on the children and teachers, not me.”
When I hear this response, I find myself thinking, that sounds just like me when I was a Head. When I was told only one side of the School Leadership Story.
It’s all about the job description, or is it?
Before I was appointed to my first post as a Headteacher around seventeen years ago, I read and believed that I fully understood the Job description and person spec. I wrote an application form that demonstrated my leadership skills, knowledge and experience.
I performed so well at interview [despite being eight and a half months pregnant], that I convinced the panel, I could do what the job was asking of me on paper and take the school out of Special Measures…
And therein lies the rub. Did you fall for it too? Did you mistakenly believe that when you applied for the Head teacher role, all you were being asked to do was to show that you could meet what was being asked of you on paper?
No matter how long you have been in the role, I bet you know differently now!
American author and therapist, James Hollis forewarns us that when we take on roles that demand more of us, that cause us to become aware of the greater contribution to society that our roles demand,
“We move into unfamiliar territory …. anxiety is activated as our constant comrade…psychological development always requires greater capacity in us for the toleration of anxiety and ambiguity”
He says this because in such roles, we are forced to step into the limelight and show that we have a propensity to be able to cope with being:
– Open to criticism/challenge
– Able to work well with ambiguity
– Able to switch modes quickly and efficiently
– Questioned for the values and beliefs that we hold
It sure would have made my life as a Head teacher so much easier, if I had been told this other side of the School Leadership Story and the impact such demands would have on my mental health and well-being.
If someone had simply said to me;
“Viv, there’s another side to being a School Leader that you need to understand. This school leadership business isn’t only about school improvement. Yes, you have got to raise standards. Yes, you have got to achieve consistently high levels of teaching and learning.
But…you have to understand that school development is also about emotional and psychological development.
If you let the weight of the responsibility that you bear, prevent you attending to your own emotional and psychological needs, you might fall victim to self-doubt and anxiety and begin [falsely] to think that you are not up to the job.
This is not the case. You are just transitioning and you have to attend to the emotional and psychological shifts that this post requires, so that you can move beyond surviving to thriving.”
No-one said it to me, but I am saying it to you, as loudly and as clearly as I possibly can.
YOU MATTER! YOUR EMOTIONAL & MENTAL HEALTH MATTER.
Attending to your own psychological and emotional needs is not selfish. Instead, it demonstrates commitment and courage to doing what it takes to become the best version of yourself in service to others.
I know it isn’t easy, but it is a must, if you are serious about;
– Staying in this role and maintaining your health and happiness
– Keeping your passion and purpose
– Inspiring and motivating others
– Being the very best version of yourself
– Fulfilling the promise that I know you made when you were interviewed, to make better the lives of the children in your school!
Getting the Support Every School Leader Needs…
One of the hardest things for me as a Headteacher was finding someone neutral to talk openly and frankly about the questions, doubts and feelings I was having in the role.
I struggled to find someone who really understood the challenges I was experiencing and with whom, I could drop my “leadership mask” and just be myself.
What I needed was a non-judgemental space for me to be truly heard and the encouragement and support to help me through what I was facing and feeling.
It is my belief that every school leader should have access to this invaluable form of support to ensure that when we fall down, we are supported to get back up again with renewed focus and energy and carry on towards our dream.
That’s why I am now offering free “Coaching for The Soul” support calls for school leaders to ensure that no School Leader would have to struggle to find the support they need.
This Free 30 minute call with me will provide you with a confidential, safe space where you can:
– Talk through the challenges you’re currently facing in your role
– Get support in locating next steps and solutions to help you overcome the issues you’re experiencing
– Explore what you want out of life as a School Leader
Places are limited – so if you are determined to take charge of your own well-being, book today to avoid disappointment.