The school environment is extremely stressful at the moment. Do you feel stressed and anxious at times where this has affected your confidence in your ability to do your job? If so, don’t be downhearted. It’s a fairly common occurrence and most SBL’s have felt this way at some point in their careers.
Firstly, lets talk about overwhelm. I see social media posts every day from other SBL’s and school leaders managing anxious teams as well as pupil lists, PPE supplies, Census, SFVS, FSM vouchers, covid testing and remote learning whilst still looking for the pot of gold that will fund it all.
To-do lists getting longer, more emails to deal with, changing government guidance and endless phone calls lead to everything feeling bigger and scarier. Things feel less manageable than they really are. Overwhelm can affect our ability to think and act rationally too. (I have burst into tears at least twice in front of my headteacher in the latest lockdown!)
Throw in the ever changing schools guidance, less than positive parent feedback or just being at the cliff face every day, then having too much to do, makes us feel less efficient and lacking in confidence. I don’t have all the answers but in a bid to improve things personally, I am sharing some of the things that I have tried.
Take a ‘Liberty Hour’ – This hour of freedom is time out of your day just for you. Now, I do not mean your lunch break (if you manage to take one!) but a sacred hour that contributes to your professional development or networking. It could be going for a walk around the school with your caretaker. Take in the site and discuss any upcoming issues. This will create balance and the walk will rejuvenate your mind and body too! I once nearly declined a one hour local SBM online meeting, as I honestly could not bear the thought of talking about more school stuff in the stressed state I was in, let alone with the camera on me. The hour online, laughing and chatting about all school successes and fails that we have each experienced, helped me to reassess my feelings and calmed my mind.
Time Management – this is not a quest to control how SBL’s should manage their time. I cannot tell you the best way to do this, as I would need to analyse your time, your day and what you have left and we don’t have time for that! I keep a simple diary, day to view (more control) write 5 tasks in it, hopefully tick them off at the end of the day, but also schedule in a final 15 minutes to plan tomorrow’s five tasks. This seems to work for me.
Play to your strengths – know what you are good at and expose yourself to these opportunities. I am rubbish at diffusing conflict in work teams but very good at empowering staff to reach their full potential. So I do that.
Improve your weaknesses – know and appreciate what these are and put a plan in place to improve them over time.
When in school, be in charge of your thoughts at all times. What is a thought? It is just a question that you have asked yourself and the thought is your answer. If you are thinking negative thoughts, you are probably asking a negative question. Change the questions to be more positive.
Change the way you think. Do you let the words of others affect you? Do you mind what they think of you? Remember that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. It’s not what they say to you that’s the problem it’s what you say to yourself after they have stopped talking that’s the problem. I learned this one the hard way.
Self confidence as an SBL should be developed over time. In conclusion, if there is one thing that has the power to increase self confidence, it’s the feeling of accomplishment and the momentum it brings. Don’t forget the small things like being a listening ear to a distressed staff member, moving mountain and earth to get that help to a hungry family or having that epic moment in the governing body meeting when you secretly realise you REMEMBERED the dietary requirements of EVERY governor this time. You’ve got this. Exude confidence and smile.