The last few years have shaped school leaders in numerous and unexpected ways. We have been challenged to support our schools during unprecedented times. The skill set that defines a principal has been tested during the pandemic. With some self-reflection, and apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, you might consider yourself a resilient leader if…
- Your skills as a contact tracer have made you a great candidate for private detective jobs.
- You can recite local health guidelines for COVID without supporting notes.
- You’ve spent countless nights working on sub coverage using plan A, B, and C while covering positions with every available breathing body.
- You constantly tell everyone that things will get better while not being so sure yourself.
- You wake up in the middle of the night knowing you’ve forgotten something, you just don’t know what, and getting back to sleep eludes you.
- You’ve personally covered lunch duty, recess duty, bus duty, and every other duty too many times to count.
- You get lots of emails from people outside the schoolhouse who seem to have forgotten there is a pandemic going on, “We need the (fill in the blank) report right away!”
- You have a large collection of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day face masks.
- You’ve tried yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and anything else to practice self-care.
- The only people who really know what your face looks like live in your house or meet with you on Zoom/Google Meet/Teams.
- You’ve gained or lost weight depending on your personal stress response.
- Your non-educator spouse has learned not to ask you about your day until you’ve had a glass of your favorite beverage.
And finally, you might be a resilient leader if…
- Despite everything, you really ARE optimistic about the future.
So, if you’ve been a school leader through the pandemic, you ARE a resilient leader. Your students, teachers, and school community have looked to you for direction and you came through for them. We can all be our own worst critics. Let’s give ourselves the same grace we give others. Accept that while we are imperfect, we have done something most people can’t understand. We have stood strong while chaos bubbled around us. We have been the beacon of hope and consistency that our schools needed. That, my friends, is no joke.
I wrote this article for the February 2022 edition of the MAESP News & Notes.