Coaching & Leadership Development

Four questions to ask if you’re on the fence about coaching

Making the decision to begin a coaching relationship can be a really big one — after all, you’re already so busy as a Head that adding one more thing to your schedule is a big deal, especially if you’re not totally sure whether you need it or not. If you’re like most Heads, you try to research this question into the ground, looking at the different types of coaches, reviews of different coaching practises, asking people you know who might have done coaching … but ultimately, nobody can make that decision but you. A few things to ask yourself if you’ve thought about coaching, but you’re not sure whether it’s for you or not:   What has been the cost of not having great personal support for myself?   Have there been times in your Headship where you’ve felt isolated? Wanted someone neutral to bounce ideas off ? Maybe made a less than great decision because you were under so much pressure and didn’t have anyone to check in with? What about the impact on your family — have the stresses of the job been taking their toll on your home life?   What difference would it make if I learned to put myself first?   Believe me, I know this can be a scary question. After all, you got into Headship to be a leader to your school and staff and children in it, so even taking a moment to care for yourself can feel like you’re stealing from them. But actually, you could rephrase this question as “What difference would it make if I could always show...

Why You Need Different Support as a Head than as a Teacher

Everyone can use support in their careers, full stop. But what many people don’t realise is that the further you progress in your career, the more support you need. While most assume that once they get to the Head teacher spot, they no longer need support, or that they can continue with the level of support they had as teachers, that couldn’t be less true. Heads need unique support because of challenges like: Isolation   Headship is a lonely job, and without the right support you can become incredibly isolated. As a teacher, no matter what kind of challenges you’re facing, you’re still surrounded by a group of people, in your school, who are undergoing similar challenges, but as a Head, you’re on your own. Responsibility   Similarly, as a Head, the buck stops with you in a way that you couldn’t have imagined as a teacher. The huge pressure that creates on you would be hard to deal with in any situation, but when you add in the low trust/high accountability culture that’s so prevalent in our school system, it can be crippling. Complex Dynamics   While you have to deal with the complexities of behaviour and relationship dynamics in your class and with your colleagues as a teacher, it can’t compare to doing the same thing for all of the classes and staff in a school, the governors, parents, politicians, and the myriad other stakeholders. When you’re thrown into the deep end of these complex dynamics, it’s almost impossible not to become overwhelmed. External Pressures   Besides the pressures of school, many Heads face enormous amounts of...
4 Reasons Your School Improvement Partner Isn’t Giving You the Support You Need

4 Reasons Your School Improvement Partner Isn’t Giving You the Support You Need

I think one of the best things that anyone involved in school leadership can do is to get someone to support them. Whether that’s a coach, a mentor, or a counsellor; it’s crucial to have someone who’s got your back. The problem is that since school leadership is a very particular type of job, it’s often hard to find support that really gets what you’re going through. While anything’s better than nothing, it can be really hard on everybody involved when when your source of support doesn’t really get that…   You’re growing.   There’s a huge learning curve involved in being a school Head, especially when you first start out. If your source of support doesn’t realise that this is going on for you, they’re not going to really be able to be there for you through all the stress, fear, and uncertainty that comes along with growth.   You’re isolated.   Even though you’re surrounded by people all day, being a school leader can be very lonely. It’s hard to find people you can really share openly about the job with — even fellow Heads are often reluctant to open up about what’s going on beneath the surface. And that’s not even considering the isolation that comes when you’re worried about the people above you looking for a reason to replace you at every OFSTED inspection. While your support may understand cognitively that you’re feeling isolated, it’s not the same as having someone who’s been through it.   You’re in a low trust/high accountability situation.   Even if you’re unfamiliar with the terminology, I bet you know...