Coaching & Leadership Development
How to Recharge your Batteries over the Holidays

How to Recharge your Batteries over the Holidays

  The holidays are finally here.    You have said ‘goodbye’ and closed the door on one chapter of school life and now it’s time for you to reflect and prepare for the opening of a new chapter.   Saying ‘goodbye’ takes a lot of emotional energy and it can be all too easy within the hubbub of school life to overlook the depth of emotional investment that you make day after day after day in building relationships and ensuring the emotional well being of those around you.   Yet, it is so important that now with the term at an end that you make time to give yourself some ‘Head space’, so that you can clear your emotional and mental decks and begin to prepare yourself for the new term. If you don’t, you will run the risk of starting the new term only partially refuelled.   You’ll start the new term thinking you’ve relaxed over the break, having switched off from all the pressures of running a school, whereas in fact your mind may have switched off, but your emotions haven’t.   Our emotions run deep and when we experience periods of high stress, the intensity of the emotions may appear to dissipate over time, but the memory of them lingers on in our bodies and if not addressed come back to haunt us, often with increased intensity.   Creating Head Space   So if you think you might be in danger of returning to school only partially refuelled after the break, here are a few quick tips!   – Make a regular quiet space for yourself...
How Emotionally Resilient are You?

How Emotionally Resilient are You?

    “To cease to know what we feel is to cease to experience what things mean to us.” [Branden, 1994: 218]   You may be familiar with the phrase, ‘bend do not break’, which some say has its origins either in one of Aesop’s fables, ‘The Olive Tree and the Reed’, or from an old Chinese proverb that relates to the capacity of the bamboo to bend and not break, even in the severest of storms.   I would be lying (and indeed if you have been a school leader for long enough, you know that I would be lying) if I said you will never face any storms.   The storms will come. Sometimes they will be a full force nine gale leaving a trail of human and emotional destruction in their wake; other times they will pass as quickly as they arrive, leaving only a few ruffled feathers.   To survive, you need to be not only anchored to your values; you also need to know what resilience looks like for you.   Is Resilience putting on a brave face?   For too many school leaders resilience has meant putting on a brave face, while becoming detached from all feeling and emotion. They have become ‘brittle’ meaning that when the storms come, they have forgotten what it means to ‘bend’.   They have no way of knowing how to respond to or listen to what their inner self, or indeed what others, might be saying to help them survive the storm. They stand tall and rigid, only to be uprooted or broken.   And why does...
Why our Schools Don’t Need “Super Heads”

Why our Schools Don’t Need “Super Heads”

  The media occasionally present some School Leaders as “Super Heads”, leaders who can turn around a school at lightning speed, without experiencing the fragilities of human nature.   In their presentation, “Super Heads” can sustain their performance and motivation, amidst criticism, job insecurity – without feeling anything in the process.   The truth is no such Headteacher ever existed!   What does exist, are normal human beings who have to survive in a system that too often sees a passion for high standards as being mutually exclusive and separate from compassion and humility.   What does exist are Head teachers and School Leaders who throughout the course of the school year, have almost certainly experienced sorrow; frustration, anger, self-doubt, worry and a whole host other emotions.   And even if such “Super Heads” did exist, our schools and our children do not need them. What our education system needs is school leaders with super hearts: individuals who have learnt to embrace the struggle of school leadership, whilst leading with humanity.   We need Leaders who don’t deny their vulnerability, who aren’t ashamed to admit they have fears, doubts and uncertainties but rather accept and own their humanity and model this in their schools.   We need leaders who recognise in the words of Nelson Mandela that “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it” and so show pupils and staff that it is OK to have these doubts, fears and uncertainties, but also instil the belief that within all of us there is also the capacity to overcome this.   We need Headteachers and school leaders who are wise enough to recognise their own limits and know that...
Developing Resilient School Leaders in Turbulent Times

Developing Resilient School Leaders in Turbulent Times

This blog comes from current Ofsted Inspector, Senior Principal Adviser and “Education for the Soul” workshop facilitator, Dr Ogugua Okolo-Angus ‘’ We are stronger than we think. We have emotional, spiritual and even physical resources at our disposal. We may get knocked down, but we don’t have to stay down’’ (Steve Goodier) The fundamental belief is that challenges are obstacles to overcome. By enhancing purposeful leadership at all levels provides an essential vehicle for providing the best educational opportunities for children and young people. The concept is simple: be guided by your moral compass to do what is right, lead by way of example, create authentic practices when implementing and embedding strategic improvement plans, develop resilience skills that carry you through even the most turbulent times. There has never been a more opportune time for being resilient in leadership. With increased governmental pressures, greater levels of accountability and devolved responsibility, school leaders are aware of the immense pressure placed upon them. The work of school leaders is relentless and as such the journey to success requires a deep inner strength to sustain the course. School leaders are faced with rapidly changing educational landscapes and require a greater strength of character and resilience. To ensure success in leadership, today’s school leaders unquestionably need a core set skills and competencies but more importantly wide ranging leadership behaviours and attributes to keep in control. This training package acknowledges all the challenges and brings together a heartfelt programme so that integrity and fairness, strength and resolve, mentoring and openness and value based leadership resonate through exemplary leadership. Some competencies will no doubt be easier...
5 Ways to Get Proper Rest & Renewal over the Holidays

5 Ways to Get Proper Rest & Renewal over the Holidays

    You’ve made it! I am sure there have been times this term, when you thought this day would never come! But here it is. The end of term has finally arrived.   Reports have been written, final meetings with parents and governors have taken place, goodbyes have been said to staff and pupils and now it’s time for you to say ‘goodbye’ to your ‘to do’ list and switch off for the holiday break.   Now is the time for you to let go of guilt and fully indulge in taking care of yourself. If you need a few helpful hints to set you on your way, then here are five tried and tested tips to help you get proper rest and renewal during the holidays.   Tip 1: Remind yourself that it’s OK to put yourself first   You’ve spent the majority of the school year, putting other people’s needs before your own. You know just how emotionally and psychically exhausting this has been. Use the holiday period to redress the balance. Make a list of all the things that you would like to do for yourself. The list can be as long or as short as you like.   What’s important is that whatever’s  on your list nourishes and nurtures you from the inside out. They should be things that fill up your wells again. They should be endeavours that help bring back a deep sense of connection to who you are and what matters most to you. Tip 2: Disconnect from your phone and emails   Over the school year, you’ve probably developed the...