You don't have to look far to find survey results, reports and media items about heavy workload and high levels of stress amongst leaders and teachers.
The pace of school life is often commented on and it seems that "busy is the new black". Perhaps being busy has become synonymous with being effective and successful?
The problem is that busy, pressured leaders are modelling to those around them, whether they realise it or not. Are leaders influencing the pace of work of the teachers in their schools? Are potential and aspiring leaders rethinking their career paths as they see the stress and workload that may be involved in school leadership?
It's time to take control and realise that it's up to you to put the boundaries in place to establishing manageable interactions within your role.
What are professional boundaries?
Professional boundaries define effective and appropriate interaction between professionals and those they serve. Boundaries exist to protect both the professional and the client.
How much has anywhere, anytime technology and social media led you to consider whether you have any life? What contribution has collaborative practice made and have we misunderstood the concept? How much is our desire for partnership between home and school impacting?
Consider what would actually happen if you did some of the following:
Turn your phone off when you get home
Turn school emails off on your phone
Stop responding to emails after a certain time each day
Stop sending emails after an agreed time each day
Stop using social media after a designated time each day
Turn the "new email ding" and the number notification off on your laptop and computer
Coach your office manager in how to protect your time
Establish clear delegations for who is in charge when you are out of the school (and provide the necessary release) so that you are off limits when attending PLD and meetings
Work from home with boundaries
Shut your office door at designated times – meaning do not disturb. Start a power hour
Say no more often
Do only your work and don't take on the work of others. Stop being a rescuer of staff
Learn how to effectively coach staff so they take greater responsibility for solution finding
Invest in coaching or professional supervision for yourself to ensure your learning continues and your development moves closer to your aspirations
The world wouldn't stop turning. It just may be that pressure and workload might reduce, pace might slow and job satisfaction may increase.
Sound good? It's up to you. Start the conversation with staff to let them know you are making changes and also to establish schoolwide practices in relation to professional boundaries. Challenge yourself and staff to adopt three of these practices and make check in’s part of your meeting process to monitor progress.
Let "boundaries be the new black".
Would you like some starters to get conversation going? Try these:
Stress makes people stupid- Daniel Goldman- Emotional Intelligence
A "yes" is nothing without the "no" that gives it boundaries and form-The Coaching Habit – Michael Bungay Stanier