On return to work tomorrow, I’ll be asking my learners to complete some short reflections on their Easter revision. We’ll discuss the other things they got up to but we need to evaluate our next steps in the weeks leading to their exams.
My Easter has, as planned, been more than two weeks of total bliss and relaxation. I had to travel half way around the world to achieve it but achieve it, I did. It was certainly the first time in a very long time that I successfully relaxed; not giving work a single thought…at least for most of the time! This was helped greatly by making the decision not to turn my phone on at all whilst I was away. I’ve now made the decision that this kind of escape has to happen more regularly and so I have turned off all email and social media notifications on both my phone and iPad. I will now have to make a more active decision to engage with online work-related things outside of work so my awareness of my behaviours and work patterns will be heightened. I’m not yet at the stage where I’m able to put in a curfew or a ban on work but at least with a heightened awareness I can begin to take more responsibility for my actions: I’ll be able to define moments when I’m genuinely very busy and when I’m, as usual I suspect, doing work just because I can.
It made me think about the other small adjustments I could make that would fill in my ‘even better if…’ reflection box. I then began to think about what could make me reflect effectively prior to the new term. I chose to use ‘My Management Journey Begins Here‘ post from earlier in the year where I highlighted three main areas for development.
- Managing the ever-swelling workload
I have made some progress with my bullet points on this. I have begun the day by reviewing my to do list and prioritising it , rather than checking my emails. I’ve also started a project wall so that I’m constantly reminded of the things I’m working on and then if little progress has been made in any of the areas, I can begin to rectify it.
I’ve also been using my calendar for key to-dos: scheduling in time for essential activities and I’ve been using my paper to-do list for ALL the other stuff!
I am not on top of emails. I usually do these at the end of each day but through my more effective prioritisation, emails often fall to the bottom of my list and with two weeks holiday, the email situation has worsened still further. I tend not to feel too worried by this until someone emails for a second time…then I go on an email binge late one night and clear them all out. Any advice for dealing with the email beast and still having a life/some sleep would be greatly appreciated!
In all honesty, I have not conquered this one. I am my own worst enemy. If I see something we could be doing to make a difference to staff and learners, then I want to do it. I’m beginning to understand that not all of these things need be done and that it might be more effective to prioritise just one thing that would make a difference. If anyone can help me to work out how on earth I decide what that one thing is then I’d really appreciate it!
On more of a work/life balance note, I’ve been receiving these emails daily of doing just one thing a day for my wellbeing. Today’s was, quite fittingly after a holiday filled with joyous reading, ‘carve out time to read over the coming week and guard it fiercely.’ I’ll be putting it into my calendar in the morning.
The purpose I came up with was:
‘My purpose is to support and challenge others so that they have great experiences, feel inspired and know that they are valued.’
I now feel that this was a personal purpose and not necessarily a professional one. I’m unsure how to reach one that aligns more with my role and the ever-changing expectations of it but I’ll be trying to define it this term and I’ll be searching for tools and questions that can help me to reach it. Maybe the personal one still works but my feelings about its effectiveness have altered and I don’t think I should ignore that…
- Leading my team
This is still something that makes me uncomfortable but looking ahead for the new academic year and what this might look like is exciting. Hopefully, it will give me more of a ‘balcony view’ role and allow me to hand over the reigns to others.
It saddens me to think that I might still be in this space as a leader:
‘If you think you are leading and turn around to see no one following, then you are just taking a walk.’
Bold as it may seem, in the coming term, I’ll be aiming for this:
“The task of the leader is to get his [/her] people from where they are to where they have not been.”
— Henry Kissinger
This term, the three leadership challenges I anticipate having to face are:
1. Negotiating my role within a brand new context of working more closely with colleagues from other sites
2. Defining the shape of the CPD team for the new academic year
3. Continuing to manage my workload
But before I face those challenges, I’ll just relive the most memorable parts of my holiday:
Going to the Easter Show, visiting the UHU stand to get a free gift and then deciding to purchase a small goodie bag for 10 USD. The lovely man then gave me a whole host of other freebies just because ‘we need to look after teachers.’
Yogur-Berry- help yourself to frozen yoghurt and loads of toppings- it’s delish!
New Town- filled with very cool shops and the most incredible book store: Better Read Than Dead.
The final day involved a chocolate crepe for breakfast, a second breakfast by the harbour, followed by a ferry over to Watson’s Bay on the warmest day we had. Reading this incredible book (The Moth) on the most stunning beach I’ve ever seen and swimming in the sea! This was followed by a trip back on the ferry where I stood at the front of the boat with the wind in my hair and felt incredibly happy.
Happy end of the holidays and I hope the summer term (filled with its usual joy, fear, anxiety and fast pace) is great for everyone!