Deep breath and ready for another week.

Sometimes you don’t notice it
Sometimes it just sits there quietly…but its never not there
The start to this term has been a tough one, I’m not going to talk details but lets just say it’s been up there.
Anxiety just sits, it’s not one thing it’s lots of things and sometimes it just overwhelms. It’s layers and layers and layers. It sits and nags. It’s that slight sick feeling I have every morning at the moment.  It’s those moments when you can’t see the wood for the trees. Normally I’m a problem-solver, I find solutions. At the moment I’m finding that tricky.
It’s not the big things, it’s the tiny things that threaten to capsize your boat.
Systemically there is a constant pressure feeding down all the time starting at the top and cascading down bit by bit. (When there is a ministerial phone call to your trust about your data you really feel actually how close it is.)
 There is that nagging gnawing feeling that whatever job you’re doing it’s not good enough. At every level this can take a different form.
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The lack of trust and a toxic system of accountability spirals to every level and feeds down and down.
Anxiety is a hungry beast and it wants to be fed it wants you to satiate its hunger. Have you ever stopped to think why some schools create ridiculous demands of their teachers, set up systems that show no trust or faith in their staff and then why this cascades down onto pupils.
With all the talk about  recruitment and retention it’s vital to think why increasing numbers of  people don’t see this job as a long-term thing. If you’re looking for a reason why people leave the profession I suggest that’s part of your answer. For lots of people feeling that what you are doing is not good enough is a massive part of it. In schools we sometimes create systems that do just that maybe it’s time we stepped back and really looked at the impact of our actions. I guarantee for most it’s not about money, it’s a lot about pressure. Workload is something that is created to make people feel better about the job they are doing whilst it might ease one person’s anxiety it inevitably impacts on the people below them.
Leaders of schools can stop it impacting down into their schools and staff. The pressures however are still there and they build and build and when that’s the case sometimes it’s the tiniest things….

11 thoughts on “Deep breath and ready for another week.

  1. I’m not a head teacher, I’m not even a teacher. But I read your blog from Jan 2017 after reading this and I think perhaps you might re-read it too. It shows that whatever the challenge is, you’ve met it with the support of your colleagues and peers and you will do so again. I appreciate gaining an insight through your blog (and others) into the challenges facing Primary Schools in particular but also the gems shared about the little successes and the books shared and appreciated along the way.


  2. I used to have this feeling too. You’ve captured it so well. I don’t know what the answer is…. but I think it’s important to have someone to talk through the detail with: not your partner; not your Chair; not an employee. I wish I’d had more of that. The pressure is insane. Keep doing what you think is sensible and manageable; be yourself and remind yourself that lots of people know what a great job you do. What else can you do.? Keep going!


  3. I really struggled with this last year and felt that I wasn’t good enough when previously I knew I was doing a good job. Since then I started running, doing some mindfulness, started yoga and most importantly talked to people about doing these things and why. I’m not sure if one of these things helped or a combination of them all but I’m in a much better place. Yes I still worry, yes I still doubt myself, but it’s not consuming me now. I do think talking really helps!


  4. I think, from reading you online, that you are doing a wonderful job in very stressful circumstances and I hope that you get the space and support you need to see that. When I was an overwhelmed carer for elderly parents I started going to see a therapist and that really helped me to see the bits of my life I could change for the better; everything in my mind had become equally unchangeable and difficult and I couldn’t see what I could do differently – so I hope you can get the support you need. Thanks for all your inspiring tweets about books – even if you will end up having cost me a fortune, as often I have then gone and bought your recommendations!


  5. Thank you so much for your bravery, honesty and integrity. I have worked under two headteachers who used bullying to help them deal with the immense pressure. To hear you has a head speak the truth is healing as one of the worst effects of bullying is that feeling that you are crazy and the problem is all in your head, actually the problem is in fact you and your low expectations, lack of work ethic…. etc etc. So to hear your truth is powerful. Remember these maybe difficult times, but the route cause of anxiety is fear and although the seas are stormy you are a warrior! Stay strong and thank you.


  6. Sorry to hear you’re going through this, Simon. You sound tired – maybe think about how you can find even more ways to sustain yourself outside school which will help you find the strength and resilience to face the challenges within it? Talking about how you feel is a crucial first step, and talking to others who will listen and understand will help – even though I know there are no neat solutions.

    You are a much loved and well-respected school leader and I know there will be many in your corner. Hope that helps.


  7. Hang in there Simon, you do a great job and make a huge difference.
    I recognise the feelings you’re describing very well and I can’t think of many heads who haven’t been through something similar. You will get through it. Keep swimming!


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