Coaching & Leadership Development
How to Overcome the Stress of School Re-Openings

How to Overcome the Stress of School Re-Openings

  This week, whilst it remains open to question as to whether the five tests for easing lockdown have been met, schools have begun to re-admit pupils for certain year groups.   Understandably, against this backdrop there is a high degree of stress and anxiety. Pupils, parents and teachers alike will carry their own set of fears and worries about what a return to school might look like.   Pupils might worry about who they can play with and why it is that they can no-longer proudly carry pieces of work home to show their parents; parents in turn might worry about how well their children will adjust to the changes and teachers may worry about the limitations of social distancing on the child/teacher relationship.   And… there will be many, many more worries that will surface over the coming weeks and months.   As these worries surface, the individual who will be expected to shoulder all of these anxieties and find solutions, will be you, the Headteacher. Prior to the Covid outbreak, you already knew the heaviness of the emotional weight of the role.   You had probably become accustomed to its weight and had developed a pair of broad shoulders as a result! But.. this is different. The levels of stress and anxiety are coming at you from all angles and even though you have never experienced anything like this before, people are still expecting you to have all of the answers.   It’s at times like these that self-awareness and self-management come into their own as key survival skills. Many members of your school community may...
Coronavirus – How to Protect your Mental Health in a Crisis

Coronavirus – How to Protect your Mental Health in a Crisis

“It may be that this emergency will offer the space and time to focus on our interior world” Tobias Jones   After a week of self-isolating and not getting any better, this was very much the case for me. When it was confirmed over the phone, by my doctor that I had contracted Covid-19.   The diagnosis didn’t surprise me. For a week I’d felt awful; sore throat, persistent cough, aching limbs, no energy and loss of appetite. By the time my family made the decision to call the doctor, those symptoms had intensified, along with stinging headaches, that seemed to go on for hours and Paracetamol had little effect.   Self-isolating in my bedroom and with no energy to even read a book or watch TV, the only thing I could do was face my own interior world of thoughts and feelings.   My family were worried, particularly my 93 year old mum (who struggled to understand why she couldn’t come over and take care of me) and my eldest son, who despite his best efforts, found it difficult to mask his anxiety and worry.   As I slowly came back to full health ( a process that took slightly over three weeks) I realised that the sense of connectedness that I had with myself and others was a key factor in protecting my mental health. It helped me to retain a sense of hope as my body sought to recover.   Staying Connected   The illness meant that I had difficulty talking. Even trying to speak for just a few moments led to bouts of coughing that drained every ounce of energy...
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...
4 Things School Leaders need in this Coronavirus Crisis

4 Things School Leaders need in this Coronavirus Crisis

  It’s fair to say that even at the best of times being a Head is a stressful job.   And now with the rapid outbreak of coronavirus across the world, the role has become far more complicated and stressful than perhaps had ever been thought possible.   Today, many Heads find themselves having to sail previously uncharted waters; they are having to captain and lead ‘digital’ schools whilst simultaneously provide some type of specialised, alternative provision for children of key workers.   It is schooling like many of us have never known before and it’s hard to say where it will lead. All we do know with any degree of certainty, is that at present, this is our new normal and it will require huge amounts of resilience, courage and flexibility to navigate these perilous times.   It is in times such as these, when it can feel as though everyone and everything else is at sea, that Heads needs to be supported to literally keep their own heads above water and find ways to remain grounded.   The going won’t be easy, the last few weeks have already proven that, but keeping an eye on these four qualities, might just help to bring some sense of calm to the storm that we are all experiencing…   1. Patience   Given predictions from a range of scientific and medical sources, it is highly likely that this outbreak will continue through to the end of the academic year. There is also talk that the virus may reoccur in a multiple waves in the months and years to come.  ...
How to Lighten the Burden of School Leadership

How to Lighten the Burden of School Leadership

  The blog comes from Emma Turner (@Emma_Turner75), who is the research and CPD lead for Discovery Schools Trust, Leicestershire.    In every headteacher or school leader’s office, there is an invisible bucket of rocks.   They may be squirrelled away under their desk near their feet or they may be up on a shelf, nestled amongst the folders and files. Sometimes, the bucket is almost empty; sometimes, the rocks can be seen spilling out over the rim of the bucket and gathering in small piles around its base.   Some of these rocks are fragile and flinty, prone to breaking in sharp shards should they be handled in the wrong way. Some are barely more than clumps of sand, on the surface, seemingly firm and strong but ready to crumble under the slightest pressure. Others are shining polished glittering pieces of stardust, twinkling with promise; among the rest of the bucket are jagged and tearing pieces of layered rock, ready to skin your hands should you reach out to help them.   Towards the bottom are endlessly heavy rocks, although small in size, dense and almost un-liftable, such is their deceptive weight. Between the bigger rocks lie multiple tiny pebbles, some beautifully smooth and polished, others spiky and rough.   The bucket is invisible, yet it is carried everywhere the leader goes. Sometimes swinging the empty invisible bucket cheerfully as they go around their daily business and other days simply staring at the bucket, almost cowed by its weight and seemingly without the strength to lift it alone.   Every time a person interacts with the school leader, they, like Hansel in the...
Why Heads Leave – The 3 Key Reasons

Why Heads Leave – The 3 Key Reasons

  “When we are doing what is wrong for us, we can temporarily mobilise energy in service to goals, and often we must, but in time such forced mobilisation leads us to irritability, anger, burnout and symptoms of all kinds” James Hollis   Every time, I sit with a Headteacher as their coach, I become acutely aware of the amount of energy they expend in seeking to do what is right for them and right for their schools.   It is not an easy task. Many find themselves in situations where it seems impossible to see the wood for the trees and if they are not supported to find their own way forward, they may inadvertently end up following someone else’s.   More often than not, this other path can end up being the wrong path and for the reasons cited in the above quote, can lead to good people leaving the profession.   To understand why this happens and why there is still such a high rate of attrition amongst Heads, we need to deepen our understanding of three key things that happen to Heads when they ‘temporarily mobilise energy in service to goals’ that are not their own…   1. Disregard for the inner journey   It is my firm and strong belief, that Headship is for many a vocation; a call not only to serve, but also a call to show up as one’s best self. The trouble is, too much of what is provided for Heads in terms of professional development and support in the role, is concerned with the outer garms and vestiges of...