Coaching & Leadership Development
How to Live with Uncertainty as a School Leader

How to Live with Uncertainty as a School Leader

  This blog post is based on the reflections of Giles Barrow, an Integrity Coaching Associate on the topic of managing uncertainty as a School Leader. To watch the full masterclass, please click here.   It has now been almost two months since the country went into lockdown and now, very tentatively we are seeking to ease our way out.   The future is still uncertain and there remains a huge array of unknowns. As a result, most of us are now in what I’d consider to be a “liminal space”.   To clarify, if you’re not familiar with the language, liminal means threshold, it is the period of time between two concrete senses of who we are. For example, adolescence is a liminal period of time as we are no longer a child and we are also not yet an adult.   It is often referred to as a “between place” and during this time,  I’ve seen so many people have been commenting on how peculiar this between and betwixt place they currently feel they are in feels.   This is partly because one of the important things about this liminal time is that it inevitably involves disintegration. After all, there is no way in which it is possible to be a child, undergo adolescence and be a child at the end of it.  It’s just not possible!   We can have a pseudo liminal process in which we think we have had a heck of a time, but we haven’t really experienced this sense of disintegration.   We usually know that is happening because of a number of things: we feel the disintegration bodily, in our minds...
Re-Opening Schools – Why Heads Must be Trusted

Re-Opening Schools – Why Heads Must be Trusted

  Since the very start of this pandemic, Teachers and school leaders have been on the frontline.   Over the past few days, the way in which they have been vilified by some politicians and  certain sections of the media, has served no one, least of all our children.   Amidst the high degrees of change and uncertainty brought about by this global crisis, it is both mis-leading and mis-guided to characterise those who work in our schools as  either “too lazy” or difficult”, when they have expressed valid concerns about the re-opening of  schools.   Unity v’s Division   The disparaging way in which their concerns have been presented has not been helpful. By belittling the very legitimate concerns held by unions, school leaders, teachers and parents alike, the discourse around school re-openings has sadly become divisive. At a time, when a spirit of unity has to be at the centre of all efforts to move the country out of lockdown.   As an accusatory finger is being pointed at teachers and school leaders, what is patently being ignored is the fact that teachers and school leaders do care! The vast majority care passionately about the profession they have chosen to be a part of. They care passionately about the communities they serve.   We need only look back over the past couple of months to see ample evidence of this: from hand-delivering food packages to their most deprived families, facilitating community initiatives (with everything from virtual choirs to helping create masks for the NHS), to of course, providing a range of online learning.   They have done...
An Open Invitation to Every School Leader

An Open Invitation to Every School Leader

  I think it is fair to say that as a result of the current COVID-19 crisis, the challenge and complexity of role of a School Leader  has grown exponentially.   Every school leader in the country has faced an enormous amount of change; personally and professionally. These are unprecedented times, for which there are no rule or guide-books. Everything has changed! Relationships with families, pupils and staff have changed. The speed of change has been swift, with little or no time for school leaders to make sense of both the here and now and also what the ‘new order’ might bring. Whilst many Heads are doing their best in an impossible situation, many are struggling to navigate the uncertainty that has accompanied this global pandemic. The old norms have been stripped away and this can lead to feelings of discomfort, disorientation and anxiety about the current situation in which we have found ourselves. This situation has further exacerbated feelings of overwhelm, isolation and stress that prior to the pandemic, were already prevalent in the teaching profession. All we do know with any degree of certainty – is that for now, this is our new normal and it will require huge amounts of resilience, courage and flexibility to navigate these perilous times. Therefore, this is a time when we need to be deliberate in pressing the pause button to find time to reflect. This is a time, when different types of conversation and leadership support are needed. It is a time when we can be explicit and openly address the fact that we are all in a time of transition. A time that requires open and honest discussion about what this period signifies for and collectively, how we can assist...
When Crisis Hits – Finding Hope in Challenging Times

When Crisis Hits – Finding Hope in Challenging Times

  “Hope, modern researchers are finding, does more than offer a bit of solace amidst affliction. It plays a surprisingly potent role in life… Daniel Goleman   Since the global coronavirus pandemic took hold, I have been very selective in the reports that I have read. The ones that I have found myself drawn to, have had one thing in common… they have all spoken of a hope of a better tomorrow. In the midst of this crisis, it would seem that many are daring to believe, daring to put their souls on the line, daring to speak truth to power and daring to hope that amidst the sadness, grief and the sorrow, that it is possible to hope for a better future. But…the hope that they speak of is not ephemeral nor is it based on wishful thinking. It is hope that is firmly linked to action and the realisation that hope is a choice. Hope is a choice that is given meaning and expression to when we decide to take action. Hope then moves from something intangible, to something that we can then begin to experience more of in our day-to-day lives. When hope moves from an internal desire to an external action, we can find within ourselves the courage to keep moving forward, even in the face of adversity. As school leaders across the country, seek to find ways to develop this robust type of hope it is essential that they are supported to do three key things… 1. Learning Lessons from the Past   This is a quote I came across a while ago, from the...