“Leaders’ acts of caring for the emotional lives of teachers can influence school culture, teacher commitment, teacher collective efficacy and commitment which, in turn, influences improved student learning “
“While they were caring for others, they were not caring for themselves.”
These two quotations are from a new piece of comparative research http://www.mdpi.com/2075-4698/6/2/8 led by Dr Karen Edge from the London Institute of Education focuses on the experiences of principals and headteachers under the age of 40 in the cities of London, New York and Toronto. They chart what is often cited in research and in our experience at Affirm, which is that the most effective leaders treat their staff as people as well as professionals, they go the extra mile for staff and their students but rarely place as much value on their own well – being. In an interview reported in the TES of May 20, Dr Edge goes on to say that “If heads can’t find a way to have a life themselves then no one is going to want to step into that role. It will only become more difficult”.
In a recent survey conducted with 1100 school leaders by The Key, similar issues arise:-
- 57% of leaders say the job has a negative effect on their mental health
- 73% of leaders feel guilty if they leave work on time https://www.joomag.com/magazine/state-of-education-survey-report-2016/0604114001462451154?short
We have become used to leaders who succumb to colluding in what Natasha Devon (until recently the Government’s mental health champion for schools – now not needed apparently!) describes as a toxic educational environment of testing, workload pressure, outcomes and performance. The cost in mental and physical health terms and the continued exodus of teachers at all levels from what should be a brilliant, game – changing profession is something we should all be concerned about.
The need for all teachers to take care of themselves and for leaders to take the lead on this self – care agenda, is something that has to start now if we are to transform the working environment in schools. At Affirm courses for heads such as #The Human School Leader have been developed to offer leaders a start and our programme of resilience training for schools staff is designed to help individual staff and staff together to create emotionally aware, trusting, caring and vibrant places to work. If you’re a leader and recognise the concerns raised in this blog, then why not get in touch with us and find out how to make your school a great place to work?