4 edu-leaders on staying sane

Innovate My School

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Images sourced via authors' Twitter accounts. Images sourced via authors' Twitter accounts.

Being a school leader can be stressful - this is probably stating the obvious, especially given the time of year. In the Innovate My School Guide 2017/18, four authors from different backgrounds discuss various aspects of school leadership. Here are their thoughts on wellbeing.

Jill Berry - Switch off, rest and refresh

“You will work hard in term time, and in holidays, too; there will be catching up and preparation to do. Ensure you carve out some time in holidays when you can switch off; properly rest and refresh. You should go back to school after a holiday feeling re-energised, rather than already drained and weary. I’d advise against having constant contact with school. You need to have time when you try not even to think about work, when you don’t respond to emails and check educational Twitter. You need to take a break – and you deserve it. It will make you more productive in the long run, and should certainly help you to feel more positive.”

Cherryl Drabble - An open and honest environment

“Leadership is about trust and developing your staff. You need to trust your staff to do the tasks you have set them, give them time to learn their role without interfering and trust them to initiate their own professional development. Respect their opinion and listen to their views. Listening is key to gaining the trust of your staff. Their opinions as those working closely with the children should always be at the front of your mind. As my headteacher Rosie Sycamore says, you can’t run your school without your staff - teamwork is vital. One of the greatest skills for a modern leader is to create an open and honest environment. This is something we have worked hard to create here at Highfurlong School in Blackpool. We are honest with each other and share good practice in a non threatening and positive manner. The impact of this has been improved learning for the children and improved teaching for the staff and respect for the skills of others.”

Aidan Severs - Wellbeing before all else

“Not so long ago I had my own annus horribilis. In short, it involved the death of family members and the very near loss of a sibling. A school leader colleague recognised the warning signs before I did and made the necessary steps to ensure my wellbeing was at its best, even going so far as insuring me on her car so that I could drive home from a Year 6 residential. I also recall times when, whilst still being held to the same high expectations as everyone else, it was taken into consideration that I was lacking in sleep due to having a newborn baby. More recently, I’ve benefited from being allowed to attend school award assemblies and Christmas shows - anyone who has been able to do the same will understand the unexplainable sense of wellness a parent gains from being present at such events. The goodwill that is generated by such actions I’m sure outweighs the fact that a teacher misses an hour of work!”

Eric Sheninger - Finding the balance

“Downtime is critical. Critical! I make a decision to use social media 90% professional, 10% personal. Now, I’m not one to say “Oh, I’ve gotta go on a digital detox. I’m gonna shut down for a week, a month...” Come on, if you have to do that, you can’t balance your digital life with your personal / professional life. My thinking is this: Give yourself the fifteen minutes a day for social media, or whatever you allocate yourself, but when I’m home on the weekends I’m present with my kids and my wife. At certain times during the day I’m working, but if I wasn’t travelling today, come a certain time I’d put technology away. It’s about finding that balance and understanding that with all the benefits that technology provides, we have to be empathetic educators and leaders. We have to understand that the face-to-face communication, the being present for our conversations, listening, engaging is so important. We have to find that balance.”

Have a read of the Innovate My School Guide 2017/18 at www.innovatemyschool.com/guides. Let us know what you think via [email protected].

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