Coaching & Leadership Development
#WomenEd – Why it’s So Much More than a Movement

#WomenEd – Why it’s So Much More than a Movement

This week’s blog comes from Maria Alex O’Neill (@DaringOptimist), co-founder of HealthyToolkit HQ, teacher, coach, passionate Womened advocate and organiser of the upcoming WomenEd West Midlands regional event.   #WomenEd, what is it?   According to the website, ‘‘#WomenEd is a grassroots movement which connects existing and aspiring leaders in education.’’   For me, undoubtedly, it has been much more than just a movement. It has been an everlasting source of inspiration, encouragement, friendship and unconditional support. Teaching is one of the most challenging professions with significant and at times overwhelming responsibilities and pressures placed on its members.   Your teaching life can get so busy that you might lose sight of the bigger picture and unintentionally acquire a self-awareness glitch that lets you go with the flow without paying much attention to your needs or wellbeing.   You lose yourself in your current circumstances and your personal and professional journeys start to be shaped by self-doubt and fear of failure underpinned by subjective opinions brutally expressed by others. An objective perspective ceases to exist and you end up somewhere in a twilight zone relentlessly trying to figure out what is the purpose of it all?   Then there is #WomenEd, your antidote to chaos and confusion, an amazing, caring and inspirational tribe of colleagues who guide you, support you on your journey of professional and personal rediscovery, who help you regain your confidence and start believing in your dreams again.   You become empowered to be your authentic self again and the feeling of belonging, one of the natural human needs, gives you strength to carry on and shape your...
Are Your Needs as a School Leader Being Met?

Are Your Needs as a School Leader Being Met?

  When you are in the service of others it is all too easy to put the needs of others before yourself. As a school leader, you’re expected to model compassion, empathy and concern for others on a daily basis. You deliver high degrees of challenge and achieve results based on the trust that you inspire.   However, you know whether you are new in post, or well established and long serving, too often the type of support that you receive is concerned solely with meeting the strategic and operational needs of your role. Your emotional needs are often neglected and this is where support fails. The omission of such support encourages you to sacrifice the meeting of your own needs to meet the needs of those you serve.   This level of giving without moments built into your leadership life to replenish, often lead to illness and for some burn out. To prevent this damaging phenomenon, school leaders need to be supported to engage with their role in a new way; a way that supports the prioritisation of self-awareness, self- management and self-compassion.   Supporting new ways to engage with you role   We all have basic human emotional needs [ see the Table below] although the degree to which we require these needs to be met varies greatly. Our individual identities are dependent on our parenting and life experiences, and how both have shaped our sense of self. One person may need autonomy to feel in control, another may need approval and support from other people.   It can help to reflect on the degree to which you...
An Open Letter to Boris Johnson

An Open Letter to Boris Johnson

Dear Boris Johnson,   I am writing to you with a plea at a time when your mind may well be on other matters but my plea is quite simple; please begin to listen to those in education who are on the front line.   Our head teachers and school leaders who every day give their all as they seek to create better futures for our children.   I write this letter to you as a former head teacher, who has been in the profession for over twenty five years. Although I left headship over thirteen years ago, I am now in schools nearly every day, providing coaching support for passionate school leaders. When I am with my school leaders I hear the truth about what it takes to be a successful school leader.   To be a successful school leader today takes: – Courage – Bravery – Resilience   Within the current increasingly competitive and antagonistic narrative surrounding school improvement, school leaders are finding that these qualities are becoming harder to develop. As a key by product of your predecessors’ reforms have been heightened feelings of professional and emotional isolation. In such an environment school leaders struggle to form trusting relationships and feelings of connectedness and shared self worth diminish.   Yet the concerns of many hardworking Headteachers and the need for greater support for Heads appears to continue to fall on deaf ears and with this has come heightened feelings of professional and emotional isolation.   I ask you to listen to head teachers and school leaders, because if you did you would truly understand what it takes for our school leaders to...
My Open Letter to Amanda Spielman

My Open Letter to Amanda Spielman

Dear Amanda,   Since taking up your post as the new Head of Ofsted, you have made it known that you, “want everyone to see us (Ofsted) as a force for improvement.”   I am sure you know that it is ‘how’ you do this that will determine whether opinions are changed and Ofsted is fully embraced by all in the teaching profession as a ‘force for improvement.’   From my own perspective, as a former Head and one who frequently observes the emotional aftermath of Ofsted inspections, these are just a few points that you might like to consider as you seek to change the way in which Ofsted is perceived.   – Take the fear out of Ofsted inspections: Children don’t thrive in cultures of fear. Therefore, it is ludicrous to expect our teachers and school leaders to thrive in a climate where an Ofsted inspection is the equivalent to having the sword of Damocles hanging over your head.   – Value the context as well as the data: Far too little value is placed on the unique contexts for different schools. Most head teachers know in intimate detail the intricacies of the families and communities they serve. This information provides the framework around which they build their school improvement strategies. Ofsted needs to acknowledge this more when schools are inspected.   – Find a way to inspire the profession: I have yet to come across a school that has felt inspired after an Ofsted inspection. The reality is that many are left tired, exhausted and simply relived that the whole process is over. Just imagine the...