In a different world before the pandemic that has taken hold across the globe, I used to present to new and acting Headteachers on the importance of being resilient.
Since returning to Headship, never has this been more important but perhaps if I had the opportunity to revisit my work, I would stress in greater detail how we should always expect the unexpected and be prepared to manage change. I don’t say these words lightly. I mean with all sincerity that this period in my career has been the most challenging. Not due to the normal school scenario that is part of the career I have chosen, it is because I have felt the responsibility of Headship more than ever before.
I’m not speaking for my colleagues as that wouldn’t be fair to them however I can say that I feel the need to be available 24/7. To be prepared to provide support. To be prepared for the news of a positive test, to be prepared for the changing of guidance and to communicate effectively to all the stakeholders involved in the school.
Maintainig staff and pupil morale during the lockdown and since reopening the school is a balancing act like no other. Everybody will have a slightly different perspective and that is natural and when you can’t meet as a group, you try different ideas.
For those that know me, I started a YouTube channel that was all about connecting with the younger pupils. I also made videos for assemblies yet neither of these could compare with the innovation of my staff who created amazing videos, from a virtual choir to a year 1 v year 2 virtual penalty shoot-out.
A sample of my videos on YouTube.
Why is the above important when discussing resilience?
Quite simply, resilience on a personal level, improves when you have a diligent, hard working and innovative team.
Resilience in school improves when you know that your Senior Leadership Team, is the anchor by which you survive the stormy seas. It is a knowledge that your Deputy can take the helm as and when required.
Resilience is therefore greater when it involes teamwork.
Resilience improves through collaboration.
Resilience shines when trust is at its height to allow others to be innovative.
Does the above mean you won’t be tierd? No. Does this mean that sleep comes easily? For myself, no. However, it does mean that I can be more resilient when dealing with the demands of a job that has changed overnight.
Health and Safety of every child and member of staff has always been a crucial part of the role but when you become so in tune with the types of PPE, the different disinfectants, the need for isolation rooms and the awareness that every decision will have a consequence, it has become all consuming.
Since the school has been opened, what has helped me be more resilient are the amazing pupils. A ‘Bore da’ a smile, a laugh, despite the fact that I’m wearing a mask. We are in our roles for them. We are teachers and nothing gives us greater pleasure than to witness a child discovering knowledge, enjoying a story, overcoming difficulty or simply having fun. Knowing we do what we do for them adds to our resilience.
As I used to say when speaking to new Headteachers, I’m not the most resilient, I can often wear my emotions on my sleeve however I have learnt to develop my resilience. It should always be remembered that we aren’t born resilient, it is something we learn through our own experiences.
Before finishing the post, I want to return to the idea of change management.
I think the emoji change management diagram is the best to demonstrate all the emotions I have felt and I’m sure many colleagues would agree, that we are still going through.
I suppose the natural ending to the post is to say that what I’m writing is a part of my own journey to becoming more resilient. One other thing that I keep reminding myself is that we are constantly learning and never has that been more true than today.