I write this, as primary school leaders across England are grappling with how on earth they are going open their doors to their youngest and oldest children on June 1st, and do it in a way that is safe for pupils and staff alike.
As a former headteacher of fifteen years experience, I really feel for you/them. I led schools through turbulent times and several crises but I can only begin to imagine the pressure and full range of emotions that school leaders, wherever they are in the UK, must be experiencing at present. I see what people are writing about on social media and the tension is palpable.
I know that in times of high level pressure and stress, my default behaviour was to try and withdraw into myself. Publicly trying to project a positive and confident demeanour for the sake of colleagues, when I could happily have curled up in a corner. Withdrawal, like this is a perfectly normal reaction. It helps us establish a small degree of control, when the outside world is full of ambiguity and confusion.
The difficulty for me was that by withdrawing into myself mentally, I often re-cycled my own thinking. As none of us are perfect, it stands to reason that some of that thinking will be faulty e.g. I know I can be a little paranoid at times, taking things personally when no slight was intended. Recycling negative thoughts regularly, attaches a degree of permanence to them, which can be a dangerous route for any one to take, whatever role they are in.
As a freelance speaker and writer, things are a little quiet at present and like so many others, I am having good days and bad ones. I do find myself talking to myself at times and I try to have a conversation with myself, trying to challenge negative thoughts when they occur. It helps, but it is no replacement for talking to someone you trust and sharing your feelings and thoughts.
The biggest enemy of resilience is isolation.
This week is National Conversation Week. I know you are so busy at the moment but I implore you to pause for a moment. Knock on someone’s classroom door, phone a friend, use social media but pause, reach out to someone and start a conversation.
Thank you for all you are doing – Huge respect to you.
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