I promised I’d blog about the conference I went to three weeks ago, and have only now found the brainspace to do so. This isn’t going to be a detailed blog of every event – others have done plenty of justice to those in alternative blogs, but a reflection on what has ‘stuck’ as a result of the day, for me. The capacity of one day to make a long-term real difference is invariably limited, but I’m going to focus on my key message from the day. In a hugely inspiring session with Jules Daulby on women and leadership, Keziah had talked about a day in her life as a Head. A whirlwind tour that made me feel I needed a lie-down just from listening, but that oozed passion and joy and her love for her job. Someone asked her whether it upset her to experience so many high-octane episodes in a day and, more specifically, about her response to criticism.
‘You give people permission to upset you’, she said. These aren’t new words – I’ve encountered them many times before, but this time, they stuck. They really stuck. Particularly in the context of guilt – the question left hanging at the end of my thesis on teaching and parenting. How about we simply, en masse, give ourselves permission NOT to feel guilty. Put differently, we do NOT give situations/people the power to make us feel guilty. We know were are doing our best – good enough has to be good enough.
Ropey Tuesday, I was running around frenetically making few inroads into the to-do list, starting one thing before being distracted by another, and I felt the stress starting to grow and grow. Then I realised that I was simply giving myself a headache and that this wasn’t actually helping anyone. That no one was going to come and give me a pat on the back because my stress was clearly a sign I cared, and that I was simply making my own life harder. I gave myself permission not to let this situation make me stressed. It worked.
In the last three weeks, I have given myself permission:
- To go to bed early if I feel like it and not worry about needing to entertain or nurture after 10 p.m
- To start to consider new leadership opportunities – Jules has made me slightly itch to fulfil some more ambitions
- To also consider that I might NOT want to pursue any more leadership opportunities
- To pick up on texts and emails and tweets when I have the appropriate energy/focus and not the second they ping in
- To let the paperwork wait whilst I sit and chat with colleagues – to make time to listen
- To NOT be offended at a perceived rejection or lack of appreciation
- To NOT attend the latest PTA event, because I needed time at home
Just as ‘let go of the guilt’ is simplistic, I’m aware that this strategy will not work for all, and with ATL’s research revealing that a staggering 80% of teacher have suffered from poor mental health, but for me, it’s been a step forward, and it may just work for others.
Thanks, Keziah and Jules.