I have been a school leader/head teacher for a lot of years now. At the very start of my leadership career I was allocated a mentor to support me in my new headship-it was really useful to have someone to sound off against and to ask advice. In later years I have been an advocate for using social media to perform a similar role. At the start it was good to help me handle the imposter syndrome that seems to come with the headship role……But things feel like they have changed and social media feels like an unhealthy place to be sometimes.
There never used to be this level of competition between schools and settings. There never used to be this level of traffic on social media saying how great you could be if you used “X” or that you’re not a great teacher unless you’ve displayed in this way or that way or marked using this method or that method. In many ways twitter and other social media sites have become a method by which schools and professionals advertise how wonderful life is in their world and this attracts both professionals and parents! But this can add pressure!
There is even a 5am club for teachers! I suppose you could argue that it gives support for those teachers already awake at 5am and already working-but what are those teachers doing working at 5am???!! Be asleep, be eating breakfast with your family, but why are you even thinking about work at 5am? That is not healthy. It may well be a result of a pressured career that we are awake and worried but we should not be advertising it as an acceptable lifestyle choice!
All this worries me…. #education talk on twitter can be really useful for advice, support or a sounding board-BUT sometimes it does more harm than good -as social media can do by giving a completely false sense of normal!
In many cases there may be absolutely nothing wrong with the way in which your school operates-what’s right for you might not be for others-remember individuality and how schools could be different? You do not need to be using yet another assessment proforma-created by someone else if the one your school is using is doing the job. You do not need to be using the latest gadget pen for your marking-just make sure your feedback is good and that it has impact upon the students. You do not need to be using another new method of developing “X” learning if the “X” learning in your class is coming on well (all of this of course is subject to your school’s leadership-there may be whole school initiatives that need to be developed and then yes, it is important to all sing together-but don’t let social media pressure be the driver).
The point I am making (and this is from personal experience) is that comparing yourself with other teachers in other settings (who potentially have a social media persona that could be not quite sold as seen) can be a really bad thing to do. School leaders-comparing your school with others can be a really negative thing to do-you rarely get the full picture.
I am not a social media expert. I am no #edutwitter expert. I know what works in my school and with my staff and most importantly for our children). I love teaching and enjoy the days that I spend actually teaching our children. I know that I have felt worse by comparing my school or myself with others in different settings and different contexts. I have felt the competition as I see that there seems to be better teachers, better leaders and better schools all over social media. As I wrote this I began wonder who my target audience was-I began to realise that I wasn’t just aiming this at school leaders-heads and leaders everywhere are constantly hearing that other schools do it better somewhere-it wasn’t just for NQTs entering a career with wide eyes-it wasn’t just for exhausted teachers at all stages of their careers (who all want what’s best for their pupils.) It wasn’t just aimed at MAT leaders who feel the competition with other MATs to keep staff and pupil numbers-It was aimed at everyone who works in our schools-regardless of their academy status, regardless of their key stage or their phase….
So I guess my advice could be…..
👍🏻Don’t compare yourself with others-regardless of your position or where you are in your career. It’s not going to make you happy and may make you feel that the grass is greener-leading to a forced move, or even worse-leading you to think that you are not good enough. Imagine making a career move based upon a heightened feeling of missing out?! You can change your setting by being the change you want to see-you don’t need to move sometimes. You are not missing out. Take your time. Breathe and know that you are good enough-if it aint broke, don’t try to fix it-if it needs adjustment-school leaders, please make them gentle adjustments and maintain a consistency.
👍🏻Don’t feel that after reading a twitter post-you’re not good enough-you are! You don’t have to compare you with anyone else-remember that things are not quite what they seem.
👍🏻Don’t be in competition-just be real, your staff and your children will appreciate that a whole lot more.
👍🏻Getting up early and tweeting and blogging as well as teaching is exhausting-is it going to make you a better teacher? (More importantly-is it going to take away time when you should be present and with your family-if it is, stop!)
👍🏻Don‘t think about school when you should be present with your family and friends
👍🏻Don’t over think or worry-I know what you’re like! 😜
👍🏻Do what your students need-not what others think your students need-you are the expert in your class (if your a school leader-you are the expert in your school) -you are the barometer by which the pace and challenge in your room/school is set. Be present and do what they need you to do.
👍🏻Enjoy your job-it is a job-the creative, fun bits are ace!
👍🏻Put down #edutwitter and enjoy being in the best career in the world
👍🏻If you carry on comparing yourself with the mythical magicians on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram etc-you will never be satisfied and rarely be happy-there will always be something that you have seen that you wish you were better at or something that you think you could be doing or something you could be trying or thinking about-its ok to stop!
👍🏻Please remember that the most important thing in your school is the relationships that are created between the staff, each other and the pupils. It’s the moments and the memories. To do that-you need to be present in the now.
👍🏻Why are you still reading this? I understand the irony of this being an online blog post!
👍🏻Go put the kettle on!