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.
A Side-ways Look at Lockdown from a Leader!
This Lockdown Story is a little bit out of left field! I am a leader. When, on 18th March 2020, Mr Johnson announced the closure of schools to all but the children of key workers and vulnerable children, my education role immediately dissolved into thin air. The reason? I was working uncontracted as a Senior Leader/Consultant, supporting schools and Senior Leadership Teams. A deliberate decision as I was also using this time to develop my own leadership chops in preparation for my next career move: acquiring my first Headship.
I’ll be honest; I was devastated at the news. No longer needed in front-line education for the duration and facing dire financial straits as I was apparently one of thousands who didn’t fit the Government’s furlough or support schemes, I stared into the abyss and wondered how one earth I was going to get myself and my family through.
Then, as if by magic, the answer appeared in my WhatsApp. Sent by a friend, it was an advert urgently seeking Personal Care Assistants to work with vulnerable people in their homes. I phoned the number and, within days, was kitted out in all kinds of paraphernalia (which came to be known as PPE) and was shadowing experienced Care worker colleagues. Within a week, I was going solo.
It’s a fascinating experience, putting me well out of my comfort zone at first. It is an absolute privilege working with some of the most fearfully under-appreciated members of our national work-force (and I’m in Education, so that’s saying something!) and taking care of – and listening to the amazing life-stories of the people I care for is wonderful! Anyone who says the role of Personal Care Assistant is ‘unskilled’ is talking out of their posterior! I learned how to safely move and handle frail humans, how to use hoists and a wide range of other technical – and bloomin’ scary-looking -contraptions to support the mobility of clients. I learned to really appreciate my health and agility (?!) and have discovered that daily, liberal application of cream really DOES give you lovely skin – even when you’re 96! Seriously – do it, people!
All that said, education is my first love. Between shifts and on days off, I work hard to keep myself current and up to speed, taking online courses, reading, following progress on EduTwitter and attending webinars and zoom meetings. I’ve also kept in touch with friends and colleagues on the front line of teaching throughout lockdown, offering moral and practical support wherever possible. I’ve never been prouder of our awesome profession which has risen brilliantly to the extreme challenges of school closure at such short notice, of maintaining high quality curriculum, lessons, and support for our pupils – and for their parents, most of whom, I know, have come to have a new and long-deserved respect and appreciation for what we do day in, day out.
I am SO PROUD of you all and I can’t wait to re-join you fully and help lead the way towards a new and bright future for education in our country.