The challenges of being a school and college leader are greater now than at any time that I have known in over 25 years of being part of a leadership team. The emails and telephone calls I receive personally and through ASCL, together with the conversations I have with heads, including those in my own trust and alliance, reinforce this view.
Optimism is a powerful leadership trait, however, and it is easy for us to get caught up in a downward spiral of negative news and forget about the brightness that still exists amongst the clouds. Listening to bad news every day does nothing to help us find the energy to create good news stories.
When I commented on Twitter
the other day about my ‘optimism tanks’ being a little empty I received some lovely positive encouragement and tales of hope. We all need to replenish those tanks from time to time, not to blind us from the reality but to provide us with some balance and the inspiration to continue the struggle.
So, here are some positive things that I think have come out of the COVID months, please feel free to add to the list!
- A stronger sense of community and fellowship within and beyond schools that has helped pull us along together.
- Children returning to our schools and being more aware than they ever were of how much they gain from going to school and being part of a positive learning community.
- The incredible pace of innovation and iteration in schools that has transformed how we utilise technology and how we organise our schools.
- The joy of working alongside (at a safe distance!) fantastic colleagues who have taken on so many challenges and, each day, smile and welcome children into school.
- The support staff cleaning the buildings, paying the bills, keeping the hot meals coming and still managing to show humour and kindness.
Maybe a five-minute slot at your SLT meeting sharing some positive stories might help lift some exhausted heads from the table and get you through to the end of this traumatic half-term?
Being optimistic and positive does not indicate a failure to appreciate the challenges we face but it does provide us with the capacity to deal with what lies ahead. I hope that a well-earned rest at half-term will be possible for you and your teams; we can all be proud of what schools and colleges have achieved over the last few months and optimistic about what we can do in the future.
I am so proud to represent our Association’s members as they show just how much our children and communities can depend on us.
ASCL President 2020-21