Time for some honest self reflection. (Oh no!)

I used to love writing my blog and found it incredibly easy to put out two or three posts a month, writing about things that I was passionate about, such as inclusion, education and leadership.

Blogging enabled me to connect with others and share my knowledge and experience. Without sounding arrogant, I can state that I do have a lot of knowledge and experience, having worked in education for almost 30 years and having also lived for nearly 53.

My approach to leadership, embodied throughout my career and more recently more formally defined is one of Professional Humanism.

I spoke and wrote about that here:

When I did the Scottish Into Headship Qualification back in 2016 and more recently the Columba 1400/GTCS recognition award in Values Based Leadership, I felt that there was huge resonance between my approach to leadership and what Scottish Education said it was looking for in its leaders.

Into Headship was tough and the reading was wide-ranging and challenging but I found myself inspired by it in a way that I had never been previously when studying for my academic qualifications.

Towards the end of the course, I summarised the pieces that I had found most inspiring in this blog post:

And after finishing the course, I found another huge source of inspiration when I was lucky enough to attend a seminar with Karin Chenoweth, who summarised the top traits and action of school leaders in the USA who had truly made a difference to the lives of learners in their schools:

Everything I believed about leadership back then is still what I believe now.

The way that I am as a leader is the reason that I am able to connect with many people, whether children or adults, and help them to be all that they can be.

But the way that I am as a leader is inevitably not everyone’s cup of tea.

For some, I am too honest, not political enough, not able to drop my values even for just a moment to have a judgemental gossip about someone or write them off on the basis of hearsay.

Some days I’d give anything to be more able to be their way, instead of my way.

But I can’t.

And sadly, the inability to be more “their way” has meant that I haven’t managed to secure that elusive headship.

I have always said to my pupils that being able to be you is the most important thing in life and that finding a way of living where you are surrounded by people who accept you is key.

Of course, this will never be 100% possible. Humans are complex and hatred and non-acceptance stem from drivers that are not to do with values or positive qualities.

And as John Lydgate, the 14th century monk and poet wrote: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

I have reflected a lot recently about whether #ADHD and school leadership are incompatible bedfellows.

As I joked at an event a couple of months back for Education Scotland: everyone knows that being SLT often means being hated by staff, so why would anyone who has a condition where sensitivity is heightened think about putting them self up for it?

I watched this again recently, and I wonder whether I am just asking too much of myself, given the challenges that #ADHD brings.

Until 10 years ago (and while I was blissfully unaware that I had #ADHD, I excelled as a teacher and middle leader and never felt that I lacked what it took to be those things.

But having felt differently in my recent roles, and having spent a lot of time feeling as if I don’t quite fit has made me wonder: perhaps knowing my limitations and managing my expectations is something that will ultimately enable me to feel more fulfilled, to have to mask less and to be able to live more and fight less against things I can’t change.

I’m not sure what this means in terms of my career.

I know many people have taken the brave step of setting up a business or private enterprise to help them create a job to match their skills and qualities that doesn’t exist.

But I am petrified by that thought. I can’t even imagine where I’d start or how I’d cope with the uncertainty of where the next job or pay cheque would come from. It’s for the same reason that I never pursued my dream of becoming an actor.

And I, if I am honest (oh no!!) I am slightly heartbroken at the thought of turning my back on “the system” because I have so passionately fought to try and make the system work for all children for so many years.

But maybe that baton needs to be handed over to someone else now.

This hare doesn’t feel like she’s winning any more; perhaps it’s time to find a different relay team where my gifts are more readily accepted as rocket fuel for the common good.

I just hope that team exists somewhere.

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