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.
I am ten years out of headship now, and as I observe how schools are adapting and coping in the current challenging circumstances I feel humbled by the dedication leaders at all levels, teachers and school support staff are demonstrating. While having their own concerns about friends and families, trying to protect their own health and balance personal responsibilities with professional commitments, those who work in schools are stepping up to the plate and showing just what they’re made of. They manage the tricky balance between providing teaching remotely and caring for those who need supervision in schools while organising their own households. Many worry about the pupils they do not see, especially those who have difficult home circumstances, being isolated and distanced from the support and stability school usually offers them. They do what they can to check in and to maintain the important relationships which help pupils to feel connected and not alone. They control their fear and anxiety and just keep showing up, doing what they can to serve, not just their student populations, but the communities within which they sit.
The pandemic has shown us how important schools are within these communities, and I see schools working with parents and carers more closely than ever before – bolstering and guiding, understanding and empathising. There is talk of whether society as a whole will have a fuller appreciation of the contributions schools make once this is all behind us and some kind of normality returns. There is discussion of what we are learning about what matters most, and what the true point of education is, as these extraordinary times encourage everyone to question their values and priorities. I hope that we are changed for the better by this experience, and that we don’t just revert to our former relationships and old habits: something special is happening in our communities, and the kindness and consideration shown by so many is something that should have an impact well beyond the current lockdown. Time will tell.
In the meantime, I ask myself how I can show leadership and support those on the front line. I write about education. I read a lot written by educators, and I tweet and comment and share. I pass on information I think might be helpful to those who are juggling so much more than I am. I receive communications from individuals requesting advice or guidance and I support wherever I can. I contribute to online professional learning sessions, sharing experiences and thoughts which I hope may encourage others’ reflections as they gauge how they might approach current and future challenges. I hope to support educators as they filter the potentially overwhelming amount of information out there, encouraging them to pause, take a breath, and make some considered choices, despite the pressure and sense of urgency. I know that as a school leader I never faced anything this difficult, and I have huge respect and admiration for those who are navigating this.
This is #LockdownLeadership.