Stepping into a new school leadership role can be one of the most exciting — and challenging — things you’ll ever do. The more you can make the role your own, the smoother this transition is likely to be, so if you’re feeling daunted at the thought of stepping into someone else’s shoes, here are a few tips that will enable the transition to feel that much easier.
1. Remain connected to your values
Your values are going to be your rock throughout your Headship. They’re what drives your vision, passion and purpose and they’re where your leadership behaviours stem from. People are going to be looking for consistency from you in this new role, and that’s something you just can’t fake — it only comes from being very clear on what your values are, and actively living them day by day.
What’s more, when you’re in crisis (and I know sometimes Headship can feel like one big, years-long crisis!), your values will keep you steady, sane, and committed to the fulfillment of your vision.
2. Get clarity about your professional vision
Similarly, you need to get some real clarity around your vision, not only for your school and your career, but for your life as a whole. The only way that you will ever get people to follow you is if you can get them to buy into your vision, so think about it carefully. What do you really want for your school? A good way to answer this question, is to imagine what a child might say when they come to the end of Year 6, if you are in a primary school, or Year 13 if you are in Secondary school. What are the memories that you want them to cherish? What do you want them to say about what it felt like to be a pupil at your school? What do you want them to be recall as being special about your school and only your school, because you made it so?
3. Get clarity about your personal vision
It is so easy in headship to forget that you are a person in the role and the role is not your identity. It is not who you are. If you are going to remain grounded, balanced and assured in the headship role, then getting clarity on your personal vision is just as important as getting clarity on your professional vision.
Make time to reflect on the life that you want for yourself outside of school. What do you want the quality of your relationships to be with your loved ones? How much time will you invest in your hobbies and doing things that are solely for you? Getting clarity around questions such as these will help to ensure that you occupy the Headship role with a good degree of self compassion and care and will help to prevent burn-out!
4. Acknowledge that the role is going to be a stretch
This is going to be a tough transition, no matter how much you’ve prepared for it. You may have tried to “study” for the role beforehand or feel that being a Deputy Head has prepared you for the role, but the truth is, you can’t transform yourself into an experienced, confident Head any way but through experience. You have to live this transition, you can’t skate by on theories and academic study. When you acknowledge this, you give yourself breathing room, and in the first few years in post, you won’t continuously be caught by surprise by the shock of the new. Instead you will be able to see each new challenge as an opportunity to stretch, as an opportunity to grow.
5. Face your fears
Along those same lines, you have to face your fears to really come into your own as a Head. Don’t pretend your fears are not there or armour up and try to become “Robo/Super -Head”; you’ll just de-sensitize your self to life, both the ups and the downs. And that’s not living! You will become more fully yourself as a Head teacher, when you learn to work with your full range of emotions. When you do so, your confidence will grow, as will your levels of emotional resilience.
When facing your fears, it can be helpful to ask yourself, “What are these fears trying to tell me? Who are these fears calling me to be?” When you make it a practice to get curious about your fears and address them anyway, you learn for yourself what it truly takes to become a courageous school leader. You learn that it is about developing strength through embracing your own vulnerabilities.
6. Get personalised support.
In this time of transition, it is vital that you receive personalized, tailored support. Yes, it’s most likely that you will be offered mentor support. By all means accept the support of someone who has been there before and can show you the ropes, but also be aware that in addition, another type of support is needed to facilitate your growth.
Support that places you as the expert in making sense of your own experiences and support that recognises that you, as a new Head teacher, need a safe, confidential non-judgmental space where you can:
– Share your thoughts, fears and concerns
– Explore issues that are of key importance to you
– Discover bespoke solution for challenges within your own school context
– Renew your self-belief and levels of confidence
– Create new and healthier habits for living the role of Head teacher
For many Heads, accessing this type of support is not always easy, fortunately the NEU has recognised this and in partnership with Integrity coaching is providing fully subsidized coaching for NEU deputies who have recently taken on the role of Head teacher or will be stepping into the role in September.
What do Heads on the programme receive?
As part of this programme, NEU Heads will be offered…
– A Half day introductory group session: Three course meal, breakfast, lunch and overnight accommodation, if required
– Face to face support: Six, 2-hour coaching sessions across the duration of the school year
– Telephone Support: Three coaching telephone support calls
A Half day closing group session: Three course meal, breakfast, lunch and overnight accommodation
Benefits of Coaching Support
This is the third year that this offer is being made available to NEU Heads. The feedback from past cohorts has been overwhelmingly positive, with Heads identifying that the coaching support has enabled them to:
– Stay deeply connected to their original core passion, purpose and reason for being in the profession
– Experience an empathetic, person-centered approach for the meeting of their own personal and professional development needs
– Find bespoke solutions for challenging situations and discover greater levels of inner strength and confidence
– Increase their ability to deal with the stresses and demands of their roles
– Maintain their ability to lead and inspire others
How to Apply
If you are a NEU Head teacher member and you’d like to apply to be a recipient of this great opportunity, the application process is very simple.
Fill in the form below answering the Following 2 Questions – (In no more than 750 words)
- What are the main challenges that you are currently facing as a Head teacher or anticipate facing? (if you won’t be taking up your role until September)
- What are your hopes for the coaching relationship and what do you see as being potential benefits for yourself and your school?
Alternatively, if you’d like to find out more about the programme, what’s involved and whether it could support you in your role, simply follow the link below…