Coaching & Leadership Development
Coronavirus Crisis – 3 Tips for Effective School Leadership

Coronavirus Crisis – 3 Tips for Effective School Leadership

  This blog comes from leadership consultant and visiting professor at UCL Institute of Education, Steve Munby (@steve_munby)   “My NPQH didn’t prepare me for this,” said a school leader on Twitter this week.   As a leader, I have had to deal with many challenges in my career, including gangsters, the murder of children, and the death of members of staff.   But I cannot think of anything in my whole career that even comes close to requiring the amount of bravery and dedication that I am seeing now from teachers, from school leaders and from others in public service all over the country.   No development programme can possibly prepare leaders to help them to deal with the current issues and challenges that they face. We are in uncharted territory. Evidence-based strategies that can tell you which actions are likely to be more effective just don’t apply.   The impact of coronavirus means that school leaders are being required to make decisions that could save or endanger hundreds of lives, with very little guidance to help them.   Many are feeling scared, isolated, stressed and overwhelmed. But every day they are going to work and showing the leadership that is needed from them.   In 2010, I made a speech on servant leadership. I said that servant leaders don’t ask themselves, “What kind of leader do I want to be?” Instead, they ask themselves: “What kind of leadership is wanted of me?”   They lead with moral purpose. They see it as their fundamental duty to do everything in their power to act in the interests of those they serve – in...
7 Ways to Care for your Well-being – COVID-19 Crisis

7 Ways to Care for your Well-being – COVID-19 Crisis

This blog comes from teacher and experienced leader of SEND interventions, Jo Steer (@Skills_w_Frills)   With news of coronavirus dominating the headlines and increasingly affecting our daily lives, even the most level-headed among us will be feeling worry and anxiety.   The first thing to recognise is that feeling that way is normal. Considering the abnormality of this situation that seems to be playing out across the globe, it’s completely OK not to feel OK right now.   Spiralling into panic, however, rarely helps anything. Or anyone.   So whether you’re still in school or teaching from home, the following steps will help you to remain realistic, resourceful and calm as we move through these uncharted waters:   1. Note thoughts and feelings as positive, negative or neutral   Take a few minutes out, sit comfortably and close your eyes. Take your attention to your breath, placing a hand on your stomach if you wish, and trying to stay in this one place.   When your attention is pulled away, mentally note whether it’s by a thought or a feeling, and then whether it’s pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. Feel free to raise an arm or squeeze a fist to add extra acknowledgement to this process.   If you’re dealing with a constant stream of negative thoughts, like a radio station forever playing in the background, this technique allows you to put a little distance between you and those thoughts; to turn the volume down; to become more of an observer than a participant.   2. Circle of control   Grab yourself some scrap paper and draw a circle within a circle. In the inner circle, write down the things...
Coronavirus – 4 Tips for Positive School Communication

Coronavirus – 4 Tips for Positive School Communication

This blog comes from teacher and experienced leader of SEND interventions, Jo Steer (@Skills_w_Frills)   Uncharted waters. Unprecedented situation. Kookoo bananas. I think I’ve heard (and used) these phrases more in the last few weeks, than perhaps throughout the entire lifetime preceding it.   Like senior leadership teams (SLTs) across Britain, I am still fully processing the news that schools will almost certainly close their doors, for all but key-workers’ children, until September. To say things are uncertain does not really do it justice.   What is certain, however, is that staff, the bulk whom will be working from home, will need support.   Will it present challenges to support colleagues from behind a screen? Sure. But it’s far from impossible, especially once you’ve all had time to find your feet. After all, aren’t we simply applying what we already know about staff wellbeing to this altered mode of communication?   Really, it’s this that has changed more than anything, so this is what we need to focus on. In matters of morale – workload, relationships, routine and boundaries – we need to ask whether our communication with staff promotes mental wellness or illness. Does it support work-life balance or burnout?   Here are my tips for how we can ensure these messages help, rather than hurt, teachers during this unprecedented situation (there, I’ve said it again)…   1. Keep things inclusive   First off, with staff moving towards email, WhatsApp and whatever Google Classroom-type service you’re opting for, you must consider whether the software and services are appropriate for all of your staff, inclusively.   If the answer is no…what can you do...
The Well-being of School Leaders – Podcast

The Well-being of School Leaders – Podcast

  In an increasingly challenging environment of reduced budgets and recruitment difficulties, prioritising the health and well-being of school leaders is vital.   Higher levels of accountability and ensuring the wellbeing of staff and pupils can leave school leaders feeling stressed and isolated.   Whether you’re taking on a new school leader role, or maintaining current leadership under new challenges, this podcast looked at ways to minimise stress and maximise efficiency.   In this podcast, I explored:   – Strategies in achieving a work-life balance – How to recognise the importance of looking after your own wellbeing, as well as your team – Leading without sacrificing yourself – The importance of the relationship with the governing body in offering support     Supporting yourself in the role…   When you are working in a school, engaging day-to-day with children and their families, teachers, support staff, governors and other adults, you know that in addition to expending great amounts of mental and physical energy, you expend equal (if not more) amounts of energy meeting the emotional needs of others.   If you don’t invest the time in meeting your needs, you can end up carrying a huge emotional debt and become increasingly emotionally overdrawn, with no readily identifiable means for bringing your emotional account back into credit.   This is particularly dangerous if you’re like most Heads in our school system, you’re incredibly under-supported. There’s no one you can talk to who really gets your job and all the stresses that come with it, leaving you stuck with coping mechanisms and busy-ness to get you through the day — not a great set up...
The Role of a Headteacher – Podcast

The Role of a Headteacher – Podcast

Back in May 2017, I was delighted to be invited by the Evolve Team to discuss the unique and changing role of a school leader. As part of this, I shared learnings from my own experience of Headship as we explored the emotional and psychological challenges that school leaders now face in the role and common pitfalls that leaders can fall into as they try to deliver the best outcomes for their schools. To build on this, we also addressed a number of topics including: – The loneliness of the headteacher role – Why headteachers need to find the space to process recent events, issues and challenges – The sacrifice syndrome that many school leaders suffer from and how to overcome the issues it presents – The important “inner work” that headteachers must do to stay focussed, build a greater self-understanding and maintain equilibrium – The importance of self-compassion, self-care and support Supporting yourself in the role…   When you are working in a school, engaging day-to-day with children and their families, teachers, support staff, governors and other adults, you know that in addition to expending great amounts of mental and physical energy, you expend equal (if not more) amounts of energy meeting the emotional needs of others.   If you don’t invest the time in meeting your needs, you can end up carrying a huge emotional debt and become increasingly emotionally overdrawn, with no readily identifiable means for bringing your emotional account back into credit.   This is particularly dangerous if you’re like most Heads in our school system, you’re incredibly under-supported. There’s no one you can talk to who...