Be the light

SpotlightTeaching is a tough job. I don’t care which way you cut it, teaching is hard. Anyone that says otherwise is wrong. If they’re outside education they don’t know what they’re talking about. If they’re in education, well, they probably aren’t doing it right.

And yet…

Schools are happy places. Corridors and classrooms are bright and brimming with life learning, positivity and possibility. Teachers are enablers. They are driven by the knowledge that they are making a difference. Yes, teaching is hard but it’s worth it.

And yet…

Doing the job, day in and day out, can make you forget. Sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees – or in the case of teaching, you can’t see the difference you’re making for all the planning, marking, targets, assessment deadlines and meetings.


Enter the Headteacher.

For we are the keepers of peace in a world of chaos. We are the bastions of sanity in a landscape carved out by the insane. We are the shepherds tending our flock of bruised and battered sheep. We are the moral compass, the heartbeat of the community. We are the guiding light.

And yet…

Sometimes teachers find themselves in the dark. And lurking in the shadows are whispers of discontent. The tired will cry, the bruised will vent, and the vulnerable will seek help. Good Heads will respond. Good Heads will listen and reflect. Good Heads will feel the pain that, under their watch, good teachers may be suffering. Good Heads will be big enough to make changes. Good Heads will provide the light.


Some teachers seek out the darkness. They prefer to undermine, resist change, hide from accountability. Challenge is something to be avoided: to some teachers ‘digging deep’ is staying at work until 4pm. These teachers prefer not to empathise with the difficult children in their class but view them as unacceptable performance management targets. These teachers seek unwarranted asylum from their own job description. They do not seek the light.


Good Heads will feel the pain when anyone isn’t happy. Good Heads will ask themselves, again and again, is there something more that they could do. Good Heads will doubt themselves and wonder if they are to blame. Good Heads will secretly hope that someone else will come along and fix it.


Deep down they know. Good Heads understand that self-selecting darkness is bad for business. So good Heads will always find the torch. To do anything else would be unfair and disloyal to the hardworking, and then, well, even the best Head in the world would have a big problem.


Teaching may be hard but so is Headship. Being fair and firm is never an easy task. Maintaining your moral compass whilst making sure your staff aren’t working themselves into early retirement is tricky – but then again, if you find Headship easy, you’re probably not doing it right.

3 thoughts on “Be the light

  1. London City Mum October 2, 2015 / 8:09 pm

    Good heads are also not afraid to ask for help when they need it too!

    LCM x

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