It wasn’t the best of summers and it hasn’t been the easiest start to a term. Our results were steady but the drive for improvement continues. As a HOF with little experience at being a HOF this can be quite overwhelming. I am fortunate that I am relatively insecure, I don’t profess to be perfect and I don’t make claims that all is well. This enables me to be honest in my reflections so that I can move forward and, in doing so, seek help where needed. There have been moments already where I have felt like giving up. Sunday night was one of them. And so, with a glass of wine in my hand, it was time to reflect.
In the space of three weeks I have learnt a number of lessons. The first, and most important, one is that my own well-being is incredibly important. As leaders it is our job to take care of others – nurture, foster, develop, support, encourage our teams. I spend the majority of my time, touching base with my teaching staff – asking if they are ok, offering them support, taking on their marking, ensuring they have suitable planning etc. Yet whilst I still whole heartedly believe that caring for them is a priority – what happens when this affects the well-being of yourself?
Other peoples’ needs and demands can occupy 95% of your time – physically, mentally and emotionally and when you don’t get the return, either in terms of outcome or in terms of positive appreciation, it can be draining. And so, now, I recognise that I have spent too much time over the past few weeks emotionally investing in the well being of others, without receiving the expected outcomes or the appreciative response, which has been more than a little draining.
So I then have to reflect upon the core – upon myself. And the following questions arise: Should I be emotionally investing in others to the level that I am when the outcomes aren’t strong and the return is not great? Should I allow other people’s state of mind / feelings to have an impact on my own? And the answer to both of these questions is, no.
Of course, I recognise that I need to invest in my staff to aid their development yet I have tried so hard to look after, take care of and protect staff that I have lost sight of myself because I have placed their needs before my own and, ultimately, before our students.
There have been a couple of occasions, over the past week, that have brought me back to the positive state – pub Friday, seeing friends, a brilliant book launch and a fantastic evening at our partner school. The common element in all of these was alcohol but, more importantly, the opportunity to engage with people who are passionate about our profession, who laugh and then laugh some more. People who are also committed and graft hard.
And I realised, that this is the state I want to remain in this year. I know there is a lot of hard work ahead but I am 100% committed to the school I work in and the students I teach. I love both deeply. I am prepared to work the hours to get the outcomes I need. I also want to remain in the positive, even when those around me find that difficult. Having these opportunities over the weekend, enabled me to remind myself of these important things and gave me the opportunity to re-focus so that I can begin to steer things in the right direction, once more.
And on a final note, I held a voluntary collaborative planning session after school last night. A small number of my department turned up and I suppose one could feel sad about that. But as I sat there, laughing with colleagues, collaborating with colleagues and seeing results, I realised that they were the future of my department. They were the ones who were positively engaging in shaping a better faculty. They were the ones who were prepared to make an extra commitment. And they are the ones that I will be able to positively invest in and get some return. This is, I realised, because investing in the positive can only yield greater positivity and I am confident that when people see the positive and they see the return that the positivity brings, others will begin to embrace it too.
The future is going to be exceptional.