The #LockdownLeadership series is a collection of anonymous blogs about leadership during these uncertain times. Share your leadership journeys: confessions… conversations… celebrations… challenges… Reflect on your moments of: courage… compassion… clarity… craziness… Email 500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org to be shared in this safe space.
What I have realised during this lockdown period, is that school leaders trying to apply the old protocols simply isn’t as fruitful. If anything, clinging to what we used to do shows that there may be a distinct disconnect between what is delivered and what is needed, and with the pressure that we are all under, this may or may not be fully expressed by those who are receiving said support. The best practice that some schools are taking is a combination of compassion, practicality and education in its broadest sense – but ideally, a sense of community underpins it all.
As a school leader I have always ensured that staff needs are met – regular opportunities for discussion, via coaching approaches, peer support groups, networking groups and relevant CPD – to enable them to be able to meet the needs of the children and families that they serve on a day-to-day basis. There are some excellent examples of leaders genuinely caring for their staff – and sadly there are those that are applying pre-Coronavirus regimes and expectations to staff, that are already buckling under the responsibilities and pressures that this pandemic has brought to our doors. Why does this happen? I’m sure that the actions taken may be well meaning – but are, ultimately, ineffective. It’s a bit like owning an item of clothing that you adore and wear and wear; one day you go to put on the said item of clothing and it’s not quite as comfortable as it was. So, instead of changing the item to wear something else, you continue to force the item on, and you continue to wear it, despite the discomfort that is apparent. You think that you look great!
It’s understandable that you would want to cling to what is known and comfortable – but the reality is that we are being presented with an opportunity to re-birth, re-figure, re-new what WAS known so that we are able to become comfortable with ‘the new normal’. This excites me – and I’m no junkie for change for change’s sake – because the opportunities to get a different result from the systems and protocols that have both inspired and plagued education in the UK are now ripe. I already feel that change in what educators are saying and doing. However, if we as school leaders don’t grasp the nettle and grow with the changes that we should instigate for our children and young people who will need us to help them reflect on what they have gone through and what this means for them as they navigate the world post Coronavirus, then leaders may find themselves out of step with what our communities are crying out for as opposed to what we believe that they need.
I don’t envy Boris Johnson right now. It’s a tough job. Our jobs are tough too – we need to be courageous for our children, young people, staff and families that we serve.