Somethings in life always give us more clarity, a chance to see things more clearly. Specifically, I am referring to life changing events that we all endure. These can range from small daily disappointments to huge life changing events like bereavement. Sometimes when tragic events happen, they can enable people to re-set their values. I often think it’s such a shame something so tragic has to occur for this to happen, but we’re all human after all and therefore it is completely understandable.
Clarity can also be gained when we take a step back. This can be achieved through a career break either through choice or redundancy I suppose. Redundancy is a very hard place to be. It can lead to depression, hopelessness and financial difficulties clearly. As a teacher, job security has always been something I feel some take for granted. However, being married to someone who isn’t a teacher, who has been through this when the multi-national company Carillon went into liquidation, job security is not something we take for granted as a family. Carillon ended on 15th January 2018; I remember the day as clear as anything, the day my husband no longer had a job. This was a scary time for us as a family and we came out of it as one of the lucky ones simply because my husband got another job quickly but others didn’t recover from this. Having the experience of seeing someone lose their job as quickly as this stays with you and we never take our job security for granted anymore.
The pandemic has given a lot of people clarity about their values, their ambitions and their goals in life. Only the other day I was talking to my brother-in-law who as a result of the pandemic may face redundancy in the next few weeks / months. It’s a terribly worrying time for many. He was saying, since the pandemic it’s made him revalue what’s important. He is a solicitor, a home owner and is settled in a relationship. He has never taken time out of his career and wants to do this should he be made redundant. I felt very proud of his morale compass when he was explaining this to me over the phone the other day. I wonder how many other people will do this. Obviously, being financially secure plays a huge part in whether this is even possible for many, but if you could, would everyone do this? Would it help give them greater clarity about life? Of course, everyone sees this differently but for me, having a year out on maternity leave in 2019-2020 I feel time away from my busy work-life has given me greater clarity.
Having children does make everyone realign their values I think and for those fortunate enough to become parents, it’s a wonderful thing. All of a sudden you have to think about someone else and for me, that is always a positive. Becoming a mother to twins, I now have two people to think about over my needs which I feel has given me greater clarity about a lot of things. However, my maternity leave has given me greater clarity about the moral purpose of education, being kind and understanding of others. I have to say, I have had so much kindness shown towards me and my girls, I can see how to make this effective as a school leader in all I do. Of course, I have always tried to be an understanding, empathetic person but having my girls has made me believe I can do this with greater strength and impact. I have been blown away by the kindness we have been shown throughout my pregnancy and post-natally. Having been seriously ill after giving birth, we were shown such compassion, at times it was overwhelming. Nobody could do enough for us and that’s just what you need in times of crisis and ill health. All I want now is to give back in the ways I can. Sometimes the journey of education is a very stressful place for parents/ carers. I am thinking about the parents who fight for an Education, Health and Care Plan endlessly for years. Having been a SENCo, parents/ carers have told me how stressful this is and how nervous they get when being in school. I have to say, I can completely understand this and believe it’s our duty to ensure families experience of the education system is a positive one as much as possible.
So, as I return from maternity leave in July, I come back with more clarity. I want to offer compassion as I return and increased understanding through kind fair leadership. I hope to be even better at my job returning in September and I honestly feel having been through a life changing event as I have becoming a Mum of twins, it’s given me greater clarity how I want to lead in my school now.
People say when dealing with conflict or a stressful situation, ‘count to ten’, simply meaning, consider what you are doing before charging in and acting. I always try to use this mantra when dealing with things at school and I hope after my year away I will have gained even more clarity to be able to do this. Speaking to my Headteacher the other day, he is keen for me to see how school has changed in the last year since I have been away. We are both advocates of a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ when reviewing school systems and he’s asked me to do this when I return in September. I am honoured to do this as we strive to make the school an outstanding place for all.
Of course, you don’t have to have children to have the chance to improve your clarity in your life but it is important that you look for these opportunities in order to give yourself time to think, time to reflect and time to work out what is important to you. If you can’t take a career break or you are fortunate enough not to have endured some of life’s hardest lessons yet, think about the small things that you could just take more time to consider during your busy day. Could you volunteer to help others, would that give you chance to gain more clarity? Or should you just take it a little slower to give you time to think more clearly.
I am sure many people have had many moments recently that have led them to have more clarity about their lives. Let’s look forward to seeing more acts of kindness, thoughtfulness and a more caring approach to all we do because when we do take the time to think and take a moment, it does give us more clarity about a situation helping us to be the best version of ourselves.