As schools start to plan for a phased return of classes from the 1st of June, there is a chance that the anxiety and fear of our staff, children and communities will start to increase from an already high starting point. This is also not helped by the profession being front and centre in a lot of news reports currently. Surrounded by this, it is very difficult to think and act positively. But we have to. We have no choice. As leaders, our teams look to us for the right way to act. We have to show our teams that, even if difficult, we still have to be positive for our children, for our communities and for each other.
The only way we can do this is to reinforce the positive messages that exist in these difficult times. I am not advocating ignoring the horror of COVID-19, or dismissing how difficult this planning stage is, I just think we have to continue to be a source of hope so we can fight our way through this rather than drowning in it. I want you to take a minute to reflect on how utterly incredible you and your staff are being in these unprecedented times.
Be honest, you’re being incredible at the minute. No one has ever lead a school through anything like this but you’re actually taking it in your stride. Under the most difficult and complicated of circumstances your school is actually still functioning and functioning well. You’ve effectively created a curriculum for vulnerable and key worker children in school and created timetables that consider the wellbeing of your staff. You are making sure that vulnerable children are being supported and cared for whilst their building of sanctuary is closed. You have created a brilliant home schooling education that is meeting the needs of your classes and now you are risk assessing an planning so that more children can return safely. Moreover, you have done all this with no preparation time and little guidance.
None of this was in NPQH. None of this has ever featured in a leadership course. This is all happening because of you. Your resilience, your creativity, your drive and your passion. Stop thinking of everyone else for just one second and say to yourself, “I’m actually nailing this!” Being the leader, it is rare that someone on your team will say this to you, so I am saying it to you instead. You’re awesome.
They’re being pretty awesome too aren’t they? They have not been given facemasks or protective clothing. They haven’t been given hand gel, had free coffee, half price pizza or special shopping hours. Yet they are working relentlessly to make sure the school and their children are safe, entertained and educated. They are also coming to terms with returning in June and what this means for the safety of the children and themselves. They too have never worked like this before and they are working under immense pressure and stress but doing all this with a smile on their face. You need to relentlessly thank your teachers, nursery staff, TAs, sports coaches, kitchen staff, site managers, cleaners, office staff and anyone else heading into a school to keep it running and actually thriving. Keep their wellbeing at the forefront of every decision you make and use every opportunity to publicly celebrate how amazing they are.
We have no choice but to stay positive. Our organisations need it. You have to realise how remarkably you are leading your school right now and you must use every opportunity to thank your staff. If you can do these things then together we can maintain a positive spotlight on education – even in the most difficult of circumstances.