Coaching & Leadership Development
The 3 Times EVERY School Leader Should Stop & Reflect

The 3 Times EVERY School Leader Should Stop & Reflect

  One thing you learn very quickly as a school leader is that once you’re in the role, time changes completely for you! Everything seems to come at you swiftly and all at once. It’s often all you can do just to keep up with day to day issues. And any grand ideas you had about taking time to yourself go right out the window!   And I understand, believe me. You want to be a good school leader, and if that means giving your all to the school, then you’ll give it all your energy, focus, and time to ensure the job is done well.   But by pushing too hard to do something great for your school, you can [unintentionally] jeopardize the whole process!   You see, to grow as a school leader, to achieve greatness both for yourself and others, it’s imperative that you take time to reflect on where you’ve been and how you are changing in the role. You can’t lead unconsciously or by default and expect to get consistently good results; you have to build reflection into your work life just as you would CPD and time for school development planning.   And you can help yourself, by identifying when to press the pause button and simply stop and reflect. I believe there are 3 key times/situations when every School leader should press the pause button and make time to do just this.   After Mistakes   Reflecting on mistakes can be one of the most uncomfortable things to do, but also one of the most important things for a school leader to...
Secret Headteacher – What Every Governor Needs to Know About Supporting Headteachers

Secret Headteacher – What Every Governor Needs to Know About Supporting Headteachers

Today’s Blog comes from a current Headteacher, whose identity for the purpose of this blog will not be disclosed. For the last three years, I have been the headteacher at a special needs school. When I first joined the school, it was very much going through a difficult period of transition.   The head and the deputy head had both left at the same time, and so had left the school without any real leadership and in a state of instability. So I was brought in, relatively inexperienced and without any real leadership support, to make some substantial changes. Firefighting without the equipment   It was clear from the beginning that some of my team had different opinions about what could be achieved at the school and that many of staff were struggling to come to terms with the changes that were going on. So I found myself having to constantly firefight, with no time or space to really develop my thinking and find long-term solutions to these problems.   I knew where I was going but I could only fulfil my vision for the school, if everyone in my team saw it too and fully got behind it.  I realised that I had to find a way to lead that team through the changes, to promote my vision and demonstrate that the changes that I wanted to make were really going to develop the school, whilst maintaining all the things which I believed made it outstanding.   However, I knew that to do this – I needed support; support to help my staff fully understand my vision, the...
Why School Leaders Occasionally need to Retreat (Temporarily…)

Why School Leaders Occasionally need to Retreat (Temporarily…)

Today’s Blog comes from an ex-secondary Headteacher, trainee therapist and Integrity Coaching Associate, Tim Small.    I’ll never forget the face of a dear friend one evening as he arrived for the start of a two-day retreat.    He was in a leadership role in education.  His week so far had left him looking pale and harrowed, with the crease of a deep frown between his eyes, which were dull.  The light was out.  He looked spent.   Forty-five hours later, he was beaming.  His face was alive again, twinkling with humour and he looked ‘on top of the world’.  It was quite a remarkable transformation.   What had happened in between?   Those two days were like a ‘plunge pool’ of reflection and restoration.  Being in a Circle of Trust had made him feel safe to allow his vulnerability out, so it could be shared, honoured, treated, put into perspective.   Rising above it, like a helicopter, he saw the wood for the trees again.  A walk across fields even imprinted that image on his memory.  Nothing was quite so important as to get the better of him again, as things had started to do.   In quiet dialogue with like-minded fellow professionals, he found answers coming to him.  He had new clarity about the way forward and new energy to get there.  He regained the quiet conviction that comes from remembering the values that underlay his professional calling.   Three Reasons School Leaders occasionally need to retreat   1. Our relationships, at work and home, can get overloaded, mostly with other people’s agendas. Retreat provides us with that...
How to Turn your Vulnerabilities into Strengths

How to Turn your Vulnerabilities into Strengths

  Recently, I’ve found myself talking a lot about vulnerability and what it takes to let down our masks and show up as our True Selves.   At the start of last week, I delivered three days of training for a DfE funded diverse leaders programme and shared with aspiring BAME school  leaders keys lessons I have learnt about vulnerability and finding True Self. Then on Saturday, I delivered a workshop at the Coventry #WomenEd unconference on a similar theme.   My gender, my ethnicity, my experience of school leadership and coaching others, have taught me an incredible amount about vulnerability. In dealing with my own vulnerabilities, I have had to learn how to turn them into strengths. I have had to learn that we do so, when we turn our energy away from covering up our fears, worries and self- doubt and instead invest the same energy into how learning to overcome them, so that we show up as our True Selves.   The lessons, I have learnt may not be the same for you, but there may be some similarities. As you read through the lessons that I have learnt, ask yourself these three questions.   1. When have I covered up for fear of being seen? 2. How did my behaviour impact on the True vision that I have of myself? 3. How can I bring greater alignment to my inner and outer worlds?   Three Key Lessons on turning Vulnerability into strength   1. I learnt that vulnerability becomes a strength when you let go of ‘old’ beliefs   When speaking, I have been quite...
The 3 Steps to Recapturing your Love of School Leadership

The 3 Steps to Recapturing your Love of School Leadership

  It is my belief that school leadership can be one of the most fulfilling and joyful roles but it can also be one of the most stressful and emotionally testing roles too. Sadly for many school leaders, it seems the latter appears to be more aligned with their reality of the role.      In my previous blog, “Are You Falling out of Love with School Leadership?” I explained how the challenges and high cost of the School leadership can leave leaders feeling disenchanted by the role.   I discussed how the culture of high accountability, low job security and excessive workload in our schools can serve to dishearten our school leaders and alienate many from the original vision and passion which inspired them when they entered headship.   However, the question remains: What should you do if you are finding that the role no longer offers you the same joy which it did?   It is my belief that a school leader’s compassion & heartfelt desire to make a difference and serve their pupils & community is something which can never be fully extinguished. However, the flames can require stoking in difficult times.   I believe this is not a case of starting from scratch but rather it is about reconnecting with that which has been lost, identifying ways to lessen the costs of the role and overcoming the challenges that the role presents. Ultimately, I believe there are three steps which school leaders should take to bring back their passion for the role.   Step 1 – Learn to put yourself, those you love and what...