My December wish for each of you is self-care! You have been extraordinary this year and I know how exhausted you are. I think the word extraordinary is particularly fitting here- extra-ordinary -because although you have done a lot of new things in 2020 (hello remote teaching!) you have mainly done more of what you always do: show up for kids and colleagues with open hearts and minds, focus first on the needs of students and families, embrace learning and jump into new experiences with both feet, go above and beyond because you love what you do... the list goes on and on. You are amazing every year; in 2020 you were even more amazing.
Research tells us that prolonged stress has negative effects on the brain, impacts our memory, learning, and creativity, and can lead us to withdraw and avoid social interactions. I would say that 2020 constitutes as prolonged stress! So please take winter break to de-stress in whatever way works best for you. Whatever you do, un-plug, relax, and care for yourself- it is time to put your own oxygen mask on!
I look forward to re-engaging with you in 2021- with restored energy, optimism, and creativity to continue to support the wonderful work you do of educating our students.
As the possibility of a Covid-19 vaccine comes ever more into focus, we can tentatively start thinking about life after the pandemic. Around the world, across our country, and within our schools, we will all need to figure out and adjust to what our “next normal” will be. Those organizations who have taken this time of disruption and change to self-examine as well as think to the future will likely fare the best in the new circumstances. This is particularly true for independent school boards.
Heads of schools have been put through the ringer these past 9 to 10 months; all educators have. Everyone is tired and some are dispirited. There is speculation that over the next few years we will see a widespread shake-up in school leadership and that many educators will chose to leave the field. Some have already departed. Given what we know about how disruptive leadership change can be in schools, it behooves boards to start thinking about and preparing for the possibility that they may need to find a new head sometime in the next several years. Hopefully, board members have been working diligently to support their heads during this crazy time, and your current head has no plans to leave in the near future. Nonetheless, you never know when you may be faced with the unexpected, and being prepared is always the best course of action.
Here are three areas where boards can focus to prepare for a head transition, whether it is imminent or planned for the future. Paying attention to these areas will set a school up to be as ready as possible for a head transition, whenever it comes.
Head transitions are challenging for a school community and require a great deal of time, attention, and effort by a board. Significant planning is required. The most prepared boards will be those who have started the preparation process well in advance of a new head search. There is no time like the present to begin setting the stage for the success of your school and the transition to a new head, whenever that may be.
Writes about small school leadership and governance