LET GO & B
8th Apr 2021
This has been a tough year and I know because as a Vice Principal, a trainee coach, and co-founder of Inspiration for All, a school leader mentoring programme, I listen to school leaders.
So how have we stayed sane?
For me, the answer lies in our values which are at the core of what we do. Many school leaders I coach haven’t noticed their values but when we explore these it brings clarity to difficult situations and helps make tough decisions.
In the front of my notebook are the words LET GO & B which have been grounding this year when things felt out of control.
L – Love
It sounds a bit naff, but if we are honest this is what inspires us. I remember I became a teacher because I love my subject. I love that feeling of a great lesson and, on most days, I love my school community.
E – Empathy
We introduced a video parents evening system which I thought was just brilliant so couldn’t understand when a teacher emailed me with issues about using this in lockdown.
At first, I was annoyed. I thought this was the future of all parents’ evenings; time-limited, no shouting over the noise in an echoey hall, and no late journey home at the end of a long day.
The teacher lived in a shared flat and using the software at home meant sitting in her bedroom so that flatmates could use the kitchen (where she usually worked in the day) and asking them to keep the noise down. It felt like an intrusion.
It was only by stepping into her shoes and seeing her point of view that we found a solution.
T – Trust
If we come from a position of trust we change the dialogue to an empowering one rather than one of skepticism. Trusting my team and what they say means that I listen respectfully and empower them to make decisions.
At our school, we have shoutouts each Friday where staff show their gratitude. It is a simple tradition and means that every week we receive a link to an online form that is quick and easy to fill in. It means that we focus on the positive and is changing the culture of the school.
O – Ownership
Responsible for exams, one year we missed a business studies exam. The students could sit it again at a later date, but it had taken away an opportunity. I thought I would be sacked. It was tempting to shift the blame to the teacher and spin my way out of the situation. However, once I had decided to take ownership the way was straightforward and clear. Showing integrity and vulnerability is the next level of leadership.
B - Boundaries
For me, this is the most difficult.
How do we enforce boundaries so we can turn off, spend time with family and give ourselves the time we need? We listen to others, are compassionate and generous when they make mistakes. But do we treat ourselves in the same way?
In a caring profession, often the last person we care for is ourselves. This is where a mentoring partnership can help us step back and look at the bigger picture.
Can we let go and be?