Articles for School Leaders

The emotional labour of leadership

In my attempts to be a thoughtful leader, I’ve reflected on the types of conversations I’ve had recently with school leaders all around the country. As part of my preparation for these articles, I make dot points about what school leaders say their current challenges are. The one that comes out on top every single time is busy-ness. If you ask any school leader how they are, busy has become the answer that, while it might be quite true, they are now socially conditioned to provide.

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The absence of a plan

The stressed teacher may well be highly impacted by student behaviour, but it is not the previous behaviour of a student that is causing their stress. It’s the absence of a plan for things to be better. Stress is amplified by a strong sense of pain that the subject feels could well be permanent. Indeed, this sense of permanent anguish is something that also contributes highly to suicide rates.

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Is your school their happy place?

The experiences we create and recreate in our schools require some reflection. When was the last time you focused on the feelings you create as priorities to productively enhance future engagement and performance? When was the last time you tweaked or tailored a generic task, such as a performance conversation, so that the context made a positive impact? When was the last time you went out of your way to do nothing other than make a staff member feel happy, valued or special for no other reason than they’d feel good in your school.

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Without a safety net

Leading change from one model of practice to a new model can be challenging, rewarding and fraught with dangers. For example, many school leaders I work with are looking to move from the punitive model of punishment with all of the blame, stagnant results and negativity that comes with it – to the restorative model, where responsibility, action and relationships are the cornerstones.

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