Monday, October 10, 2005

Control your own destiny - do something!

Too many masters. Posted by Picasa

Control your own destiny or suffer the stress!

A recent New Zealand Principals’ Federation survey pointed out the growing effects of stress of being a principal. Evidently things are getting worse and many principals are taking the option of early retirement.

The main causes of stress were the relentless press of administrative and operational pressure combined with a lack of time; Principals are spending vast amounts of time complying to Ministry requirements. Competency of teachers was seen by many principals as a ‘major breaking point’ and, for high decile schools, parental pressure another. I would suggest that competency (or lack of courage) of principals is another issue - possibly ignored by the survey!

There are some obvious solutions to this situation but they require some courage on behalf of principals. A bit difficult, it would seem, because as the saying goes, ‘it is hard to remember you came to drain the swamp when you are up to your backside in alligators!’ And, as well, the Ministry has created a ‘stand alone’ competitive environment between schools which restricts sharing.

Mary Chamberlain of the Ministry, when asked, says the Ministry has processes in place to help such principals! She needs, instead to look at the managerial environment that Ministry has established the past decades. Teachers, according to Andy Hargreaves, are suffering from an, ‘eroded autonomy, lost creativity, and a constrained capacity to exert professional judgment’; ‘they keep their heads down, struggle alone and withdraw from colleagues.’ Principals are too busy complying with, ‘time greedy tasks’ that exhaust and demoralize them leaving them no time for creativity and imagination.

No wonder there is stress. Stress is endemic in the environment they work in!

Principals need to snap out of the managerial role they have been forced into and show some collective leadership by working together to share ideas and expertise. The ‘low trust’ environment schools have had to work within is changing but not fast enough. The Ministry gives with one hand and takes away with the other – swinging from micro managing to encouraging school initiatives. This situation creates what has been called, ‘corrosion of character’ – freedom to do things without clear definition of expectation, OK as long as those in authority approve, but it results in trying to guess what those in authority want. A soul destroying stress inducing game at best; creativity and standardization make uncomfortable bedfellows. Some call this 'dis-ease' ‘anticipatory stress’ resulting in a flood of unnecessary paper work to prove whatever is being attempted!

The answer is for principals and schools to work to share their expertise and insights and to develop a group consciousness able to stand up to outside pressures. There will need to be courageous individual principals prepared to start the collaborative ball rolling. I can see problems with so called ‘successful schools’, or the competitive, ‘look at me' schools, wanting to share, and as well schools who are struggling ‘owning up’and agreeing to being helped. But, if someone starts the ball rolling then, as Dean Fink writes, schools can, ‘shake off the shackles of conformity and compliance and imagine and create.... do something.’

So the answer to stress is to work with others to ‘do something’ and to develop, what Fullan calls, ‘local creative adaptability.’

As Jack Welch (ex CEO of General Electric) said, ‘control your own destiny or someone else will.’ In the case of education it is about wrestling back what has been taken away by those so called ‘experts’ in high places who pretend to know best but who have created the mess we are in!

If school were to work collaboratively principals would be too excited to be stressed.

Stop the endless surveys – ‘do something’.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I wonder how many schools are working together as you suggest? Seems like a great idea.Better than whinging about stress!

Bruce said...

I know of an informal group based in Blenheim, and there was a group working together in Porirua, and I know of one on the way in Ashburton.To succeed each group needs an independent fascilitator to ensure everyone works together. It would be important that this not be a Ministry person - the Ministry however needs to give such groups all the support required and to recognise and value the diversity.

There is a current Ministry Contract available for 'lead' schools to work with other schools in 'need' but this is bureaucratic concept.

Anonymous said...

Are principals and schools brave enough to break out of their cages of imposed conformity? Too many of them seem to like it - 'have sold their lives to the company store!' as the song goes. Real leadership is in short supply.

Anonymous said...

Principals need to focus on what is actually happening wthin the classroms of their own school. There energies should be focused on supporting creative teaching programmes and teacher development-not some distant or imaginary audience or 'authority'! It is what happening, or not happening in classrooms that counts. If there is to be stress let it be based on achieving something important. As you say stress in the long term may be replaced with the excitment of what is achieved.

richnz said...

I'm really pleased to be part of the Central Taranaki Principals group. Principals here are communicating. I agree it is all about what is happening in the classroom but Principals need to be aware of more than just their own patch. It is important to have an insight into other schools initiatives, values and visions.... You find then the similarity of our challenges and enjoy the support of collaegues.

Des said...

As part of the informal Blenheim group I can say without doubt that working together in a “quality learning cluster” has lead to the most powerful professional development that I have been associated with. We are currently looking at ways to extend professional sharing and professional conversations into a new phase – across cluster action research and critical friend relationships. Thanks for your Blogs always worth the read.

Bruce said...

When schools start to tap into the expertise of the teachers in their own and other schools the real revolution will begin - there are no real experts in Wellington - just pretenders.

Thanks for your comments Rich and Des! And Anon.

Anonymous said...

Many of our modern drugs have harsh side-affects and cost the “earth”, so the next time you come down with a cold or the flu or cause of anxiety, why not try a gentle alternative that costs next to nothing?

Instead of immediately forking over large amounts of money for over-the-counter drugs, go to the kitchen cupboard and see what you can find to relieve your symptoms including cause of anxiety.

Here are some helpful hints for cause of anxiety …

A simple hot compress applied to the face is very soothing to those throbbing aches and pains of a blocked sinus, while a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a handkerchief can provide welcome relief for similar conditions. While supplements of vitamin C, D and zinc will shorten the lifespan of a common cold, a hot lemon drink is also extremely good. And be sure to cuddle-up in bed when you have a cold, as it will make the body sweat out the germs.

Cool lemon juice and honey are a great soother for a sore throat and gives the body much-needed vitamin C at the same time The juice of one lemon in a glass of water is sufficient. Melt the honey in a little hot water for ease of mixing.

A smear of Vaseline or petroleum jelly will do wonders for those sore lips and nose that often accompany a cold.

A 'streaming cold' where the nose and eyes water profusely, can respond to drinking onion water. Simply dip a slice of onion into a glass of hot water for two seconds, then sip the cooled water throughout the day. Half an onion on the bedside table also alleviates cold symptoms because its odor is inhaled while you sleep.

People prone to catarrh may find that chewing the buds from a pine or larch throughout the day will clear up their condition in just a few days.

Do you suffer from sore eyes? If your eyes are sore from lengthy exposure to the sun, try beating the white of an egg and then spread it over a cloth and bandage the eyes with it. Leave the preparation on overnight. Soft cheese (quark) is also a good remedy for this condition.

For those unpleasant times when you suffer from diarrhea, two tablespoons of brown vinegar will usually fix the problem. Vinegar can be rather horrible to take, but who cares! The problem is more horrible. Vinegar can usually be found in most people's cupboards, so you don't need to worry about finding someone to run to the shop for you in an emergency.

Sleepless? Instead of reaching for sleeping pills, which can quickly become addictive, try this: Drink only caffeine free tea or coffee starting late in the afternoon.. Go to bed earlier rather than later, as being overtired tends to keep people awake. Make sure the bedroom is dark and quiet. Use only pure wool or cotton sheets and blankets. Polyester materials can cause sweat and make you thirsty (if your child constantly asks for water throughout the night, this could be the reason).

And don't watch those scary movies just before retiring! If you still can't sleep, make a tea of lemongrass or drink a nightcap of herbal tea containing chamomile. It's easy to grow lemongrass in your garden or start a flower pot on the balcony for ease of picking. Simply steep a handful in boiling water for five minutes. Honey may be added for a sweetener.

Of course there will be times when you do need modern drugs, so if these simple remedies don't have the required affect, be sure to see a health care professional.

cause of anxiety

Anonymous said...

I like the way you have layed out your blog! I am currently working on one
myself when I find time from creating new sites.

If you would be intested in checking out my site on symptoms of stress

I would appreciate any comments. It basically covers symptoms of stress
related stuff.

If you have time check it out :-)

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed you blog about best weight loss pill. I also have a site about best weight loss pill which makes me appreciate this one even more! Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Hey, If you are looking for a fantastic feel good puritan pride vitaminvitaminpuritan pride vitamin then you have to check this out.