The current school year has put a burden and responsibility upon educators like no previous year. The responsibility is from the typical challenges of working in a school setting including personalizing learning for students, responding to student needs and the increased workload. The burden is a result of educators feeling like they must give more to others then take care of themselves and find ways to connect with students and colleagues in difficult times. This has resulted in adversity and challenges that create a “fork in the road” for educators. Each individual, at some point in the year, will come to a realization that they can either find ways to go through this year till get to May/June or be innovative and demonstrate grit to grow through these experiences. If you are reading this blog post it demonstrates that you are someone who cares, gives extra effort and seeks to grow and maximize their opportunities as a leader. This blog post takes a look at some of the challenges leaders are facing, the impacts it is causing upon their role and suggests strategies to grow through these difficult times to become even more of a transformational leader.
Some of the challenges leaders are facing within their roles include:
- Decision Fatigue
- Emotional Exhaustion
- Time spent on Management vs Leadership principles
- Being on 24/7 and responding to emails and phone calls
We all understand why these items are occurring with COVID, but the significance is the impact it is causing upon a leader’s role. It has created Barriers to Excellence that include
- Lack of consistent and clear communication
- Lack of Trust
- Inability to adapt
- Lack of Visibility
- Lack of Action Orientation or improvement
Leading within schools is busy with new aspects added to our plates like contract tracing, covering for shortage of workers in para positions, kitchen staff, and custodial support. As a result, our workload has increased and taken on even greater capacity that is limiting our impact upon those we serve.
But the good news is that anyone can choose to grow through these difficult times and not just make it through till the end of the year. It is important to “focus on things we can control” that specifically includes using the following strategies within your role:
- Importance of your daily routine.
How someone takes care of themselves, focuses on the most important resource (our people) and manages their priorities is essential. Leaders should ask themselves when determining how to prioritize their decisions if the item is either:
- Important but not Urgent
- Important and Urgent
- Not Important but Urgent
- Not Important and not Urgent
- Lead with your feet by being visible.
During these tough times the staff and students will ask themselves “what is the leader doing”. Taking the time to visit with people, listen to their concerns or ideas, being positive and leading the way with your behaviors helps those around us feel a sense of comfort and calm.
- Keep a strong and healthy school culture.
It is not always easy to lead daily and that is ok. When leaders lead with authenticity and are transparent with their staff, it helps everyone feel a sense of unity and togetherness. That is the healthy part of culture. A strong culture is developed by incorporating fun and engaging activities/traditions with opportunities for staff to share ideas, express concerns and help lead the work. This empowerment develops into a healthy culture.
- Communication must be adapted to meet the needs of others.
People look to school leaders for answers. That reflects the important role of educators and the trust our society has in schools. Communication is an important part of keeping schools as a central and integral part of our communities. Communication can be effective when we focus on:
- Communication that is timely
- Communication that is clear and straight to the point
- Communication that connects to the heart of people
- Communication that provides the next steps or vision moving forward
Within your profession as an educator and leader, it is important to remember the importance of knowing “what is within your grasp” for each challenge and then focusing your attention and being intentional with your efforts with those endeavors.
Leaders need to recognize that everything that happens is within 1 of 3 areas:
- What is within their control
- What is out of their control
- What is within their influence
How leaders handle the challenges and experiences they face determines the effectiveness of their leadership. It is important they recognize which area each circumstance falls under. This determines if they are able to be successful or if they struggle through the situation. Simply put, leaders must recognize “what is within their grasp” so they are not putting time/effort into areas that will not have any impact.
Educators must remember that nothing is easy. In fact, if you want to create a difference then you must be willing to not only go through tough times but find ways to grow through difficult experiences.This can be done by understanding some of the challenges you are facing and then the barriers it creates in your work. To grow through this year, leaders can focus on specific strategies and understand what is within their control so efforts and time is spent in the right areas. It is never too late to change or adapt to create something better. We owe that to our students and staff that we serve. I encourage you to reflect and better understand “Adversity….Do you Go Through It or Grow Through It” so you can have your greatest impact. Comment below or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org