Mary-Jo Hill

03 Feb 2021
Don't ignore yourself. Even in the middle of the most chaotic day, be kind to yourself.

Uncertainty lies around. Right now, schools are closed and only expected to reopen on March 8th. This prediction shows us that there is still a long way to go until life is somewhat normal again. Be kind to yourself.

With schools closed for at least another 5 weeks, my mind goes to how edu staff received this news. Overwhelmed by the challenges of remote teaching and without a clear prospect about the vaccination rollout, I see teachers and headteachers more exhausted than ever. Knowing that this will last for a while longer does not make it easier. With three boys, I can say that for parents and pupils this news is also very tough.

Be generous and don’t ignore yourself

On my coaching sessions these days, I hear almost the same report from every education professional. Long hours of work, the lack of support, the challenges, the doubts. It is difficult to foresee how this pandemic will affect classrooms in the future, but one thing is clear, many headteachers are succumbing to the pressure. In an attempt to switch my listening, I have been pulled to Greg James on Radio One for some upbeat and new music and wholeheartedly recommend a listen to Arlo Parks. Her first album about to be released. This song resonated for me mainly because of the premise that ‘You can’t let go of anything at the moment, but it won’t hurt so much forever’.

However, we can see some signs that this struggle is not being ignored by authorities. For example, the Norwich Opportunity Area – a government programme to raise education standards locally – has shown a commitment to recognising the importance and value of 121 coaching for headteachers and senior leaders. It is a small but significant step in the direction of creating an effective support system for education professionals in our county.

Nevertheless, even if you do not see this support coming on your way anytime soon, I want to incentivize you to not ignore your needs. Even in the middle of the most chaotic day, be kind to yourself. If you feel like taking one hour for a walk outside, do it. Watching a movie with your kids, not checking your phone for a while, taking a nap, baking cookies, sitting staring to nowhere, the choice is yours. But, do listen to yourself.

This is not a solution. Even less a substitute for proper government support. But it is a kindness act to yourself.