Sometimes ‘good’ is good enough!
I know that as school leaders we put 100% in every aspect of our job but I can see from many of the posts and comments on social media that school staff are exhausted and this reminds me of something I shared with my staff several years ago that helped us to get through a busy year.
It was the first day of the new term in September. The previous summer term had been a busy term and I knew that staff had felt weary by the end of it and so had I. My team were extremely dedicated as most school staff and I felt that some of them could do with creating a better work-life balance.
Over the summer holidays I read an interview in a magazine with either Liam or Noel Gallagher ( I can't remember now!) being interviewed by Fearne Cotton. Something that came up really resonated with me. Fearne explained how she expected that he put 100% into his concerts when performing live on stage and was surprised when Liam/Noel answered that actually, no, he didn’t.
When asked why not, he explained how he only ever put around 75% effort into his performances as he wanted to save some of himself for when he went home to his family at the end of the day.
My super strong team were brilliant and worth keeping and so I relayed this interview to my staff on that first day of the new school year and told them that I did not expect them to give 100% to their role.
I explained how I wanted them to remain healthy, happy and there for the pupils but that if they continued to give everything of themselves every day then they would just burn themselves out.
I recall them being quite surprised at this as they told me they assumed I would want them to give their all. But, I knew that they would do a brilliant job regardless of how many hours they put in.
That year, well-being became a main objective in staff’s performance management and these objectives ranged from going to the gym twice a week, leaving work early on a Wednesday, taking up a hobby and generally making time for themselves and doing the things they loved.
These were only small things but this had quite an impact. Moral improved and we laughed about some of the goals (going to the gym) that just couldn’t be reached.
However, the message was out there and it became strongly embedded within the school’s culture and although I am no longer at the school the ethos around teacher well-being remains strong to this day.
As leaders it’s so important that we ensure the well-being of all our staff – we need to give clear messages that staff well-being is important while walking the talk, don’t you think?
One last thing, when one of my newly qualified teachers came to me after having had a particularly bad day, I reassured her by saying ‘as long as the kids have gone home happy (and with the correct parents/carers) you have done a good job today!’ And, that for today 'was good enough!' It's about keeping things in perspective isn't it?