Miss Froud-Davis' Thought for the TermPosted on: 26/03/2021
When you stop to consider self-leadership as a concept, managing yourself, motivating yourself, I think it’s easy to acknowledge that it is one of our greatest challenges. Leading others comes more naturally. Whether it’s parenting, teaching or supporting friends or family, the ability to prioritise the actions you take for other people, seems to be more straightforward than self-leadership. Perhaps the tasks that take less consideration are the ones we view as those we ‘have’ to do. We have to attend education, we have to earn a living, we have to prepare meals and wash clothes, but the harsh reality of lockdown demonstrated to us that when you strip away the physical accountability of having to be somewhere at a certain time, the ‘have to’ drifts into a ‘should’ do, and the associated motivation to do the things that we should, becomes more questionable.
Having acknowledged that our degree of autonomy has been both reduced, through national restrictions, but also enhanced, through the removal of familiar structures, it is then time to question what motivates us. What is that all important factor that gets students out of bed and onto their devices to learn (besides the daily diligence of parents)? What is it that pushes us to retake the same exercise that we have taken for over a year, even though the initial excitement around this freedom has waned to the mundane? For me, the missing factor is purpose.
As an educator, purpose is not hard to locate. There will always be an element of the ‘have to’ within the context of employment, but the purpose behind each and every online lesson was what kept up the momentum and motivation in those long lockdown months. Being all too aware that for students, self-leadership had suddenly become a daily battle, with feelings of reluctance, frustration, anxiety and a host of others, lurking behind the screens, it became all the more important to create purposeful and engaging lessons. The significance of learning was suddenly heightened, as never before. Government announcements removed the familiar structures of the exam season and educators fortified, certain in the knowledge that the purpose of what they were doing was explicitly tied to the life chances of the young people before them.
For parents and students, suddenly purpose began to drive their daily routine, for some the ‘have to’ lingered, often rallied by pastoral teams, who hung onto that purpose, even when young people couldn’t see it, but that united need to protect young people’s futures, however intangible they feel, became paramount.
So how has that purpose shifted now we have returned to school? For some, the purpose is clear, with a few months of dedicated study ahead and an eagerness to embrace assessment, now more confident in the process that will provide their outcomes. For others, the purpose is more social, the desire to re-enter society and enjoy the benefits of peer interaction, hobbies, sports and the dialogue between student and teacher. For a few, the struggle to find their purpose is ongoing as they navigate the transition between home and school.
So, my message to you, now that life is opening once again and we brace ourselves for the hidden impacts of the last year, focus on the purpose of your actions. Consider a life limited by a lack of self-leadership, a lack of motivation, and embrace all of things that we once took for granted. When challenges are placed before you, it is the purpose of your actions that can force the leadership of self. It’s no mean feat, but the rewards are endless. Enjoy 2021, and everything that the rest of this year has to offer!