First thing this morning I managed to catch up with most of my teachers, a quick chat with them each before the children came in. This time touching base with them is so important. It gives me the chance to make sure they are ok. Some of my staff have very difficult things going on at home. It also gives them a chance to get stuff of their chests. In order to be able to be the best they can for the children, they need to be feeling strong and confident in themselves. The time is also spent discussing children we are concerned about. I can also deal with any little ‘niggles’ before they turn into real issues.
I had a multitude of tasks to complete. I sometimes find it hard to remember it all so I write everything down. I can walk out of my office to do one thing and be stopped five times on the way there by people all wanting an answer, or sharing information. At times there is just so much going on I can’t hold it all in my head without something leaking out.
I have learned over the last few years not to take on everyone’s problems and my staff know now to ‘come with a solution’ if they have an issue. This works well as they are generally in the best position to implement any solution and I act as a ‘sounding board’, helping them to think things through. They also feel empowered to change things. One of the few bits of advice about Leadership that has really stuck with me is the image of being handed lots of monkeys to look after and I try to ensure that I give everyone their monkey back! If I didn’t, I would not be able to do my job at all. As heads we can’t do everything and I don’t think we should try.
I did manage to achieve some of the more managerial stuff today – newsletter got written, SLT strategic day was planned, meeting was arranged with a local secondary head and Head teacher’s declaration form submitted for Y1 phonics screen to name but a few.
All this in what seemed a very ordinary day. And then, out of the blue…
I was in the reception area as a parent came into school for a meeting. She saw me and launched into a vitriolic attack. There are times when fulfilling our duty of care puts us in a very difficult position. As Heads we symbolise the establishment and any resentment people may have towards authority can be directed towards us. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She didn’t really have anything to complain about and she has her own mental health issues which in turn create their own challenges in terms of how we work with and support her.
When something like that happens it is very difficult to remain unaffected. I was a picture of calm whilst in the situation but afterwards, as the the parent went on to her meeting I was left holding all her fury. I walked into my office. I shut the door. I locked the door. I burst into tears.
I am generally a resillient person but it is very difficult not to take things in when they are hurled at you with real ferocity. Crying enabled me to get rid of what she had dumped on me. Managing angry people is difficult. I am much better at it now than I used to be but sometimes it is hard to keep the anger out.