Returning from the Wilderness…

Over the last week or so I have sat down a number of times to write  this blog but have found myself without a voice.  I have been unable to articulate the conflict that has been raging in my head, keeping me awake at night and consuming my days.  There are times when I have been simply at a loss as to what to do next and feeling like I had exhausted all my creativity and lost my ability to think.  There have been children who I need to find different ways of supporting and there are staff that I need to challenge.

This is the stuff of my daily existence and usually I am able to think creatively, have the difficult conversations that I need to have and things move on but over the last few weeks I have felt decidedly stuck.

I have been trying to unpick what that ‘stuck’ feeling is all about.  It seems to be to have been a combination of exhaustion, frustration and an element of fear.  Exhaustion in that the issues that I face on a daily basis are so relentless, frustration that the system we are operating in can be so inflexible and fear of letting children and staff down, of not being my best and of not leading effectively.

This last point has been troubling me for a while.  Since my OFSTED inspection actually.  I have had the sense that school has been happening around me.  I have been trying to find the right kind of support, I have been thinking on levels that are so deep they are not conscious, more of a feeling my way around things.

In the last week or so things have become clear.  I know what I need to do and I know where I am going.  Somehow, I feel firm, solid, sure.  I have not arrived at this place alone, but have been privileged to have worked with and talked to a number of wonderful, inspirational people along the way.  I have had to be brutally honest with myself, acknowledging my mistakes, knowing that I had not been leading the school but just managing day to day.

Now, however, I am back in control, and stronger than before.  Looking back, I think I have been a re-evaluating what I am doing and why I am doing it.  A scrutiny of my moral purpose, my ability to face up to challenging people in very difficult situations because it is the right thing to do, and not avoiding things because I am fearful of the consequences.  I had lost touch with myself as a leader.  But now, I’m back!

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6 Responses to Returning from the Wilderness…

  1. Chris says:

    Thanks for sharing this, I feel this way on a regular basis this year having had to go back into class as a deputy and find myself doing an average job in both remits… But a day of pondering whilst off sick and unable to read etc has given me an opportunity to see where I’m going wrong… Well, partly. Back into breach Monday with renewed purpose. Good luck with the rest of the year.

  2. Your blog is a timely reminder that headship is, and can be damaging for many, a very lonely job.

    You are lucky to have around you a team with whom you can download and refind the energies necessary to keep going. Education has never been very good at supporting schools and heads in stressful situations. It was often a significant failing of LAs who adopted a hands off approach, especially when the stress caused a casualty.

    It seems even more essential at this point in time, when academies might be very insular, for schools and colleagues to collaborate, if nothing else to retain a collective sanity.

    Keep well and strong.

  3. James says:

    So reassuring to read this. I have had a similar period of self doubt and found refreshment in a chance conversation with another Head who will never know the impact they had.

  4. Wigginsbottom says:

    Thanks for sharing that. I too am vascillating about a number of things. However, last night my brother and his wife stayed over. They are great and we stayed up until 3 laughing, drinking and getting a bit maudlin. The resulting hangover this morning has made me realise that there are worse things than feeling undecided… My liver keeps asking me not to do that too often. Keep smiling!

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