Going on a Bear Hunt!
‘Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it. Go through it or work around it.’
Navigating through the Covid-19 pandemic is a bit like going on a bear hunt; we all still have jobs to do, roles to play and are all finding ways to navigate through or around obstacles creatively.
My ‘day job’ is as Leadership Lead within the Scottish Attainment Challenge Team in North Lanarkshire Council, and this time last year I found myself asking questions of colleagues such as ‘How do you know this will be a sustainable change?’ and ‘What leadership style most resonates with you?’ This year, I find myself asking questions such as ‘Have you completed a risk assessment for visiting specialists?’ and ‘Did the staff member (who tested positive for Covid-19) maintain a 2m distance from others at all times?’ When I left the Civic Centre on 23 March last year I naively (or optimistically) believed this would be a short-term situation, lasting until June at the very latest. Ten months later, I am still very much working from home and have stopped guessing when a return to the office might take place.
Education staff across Scotland, both at school and central levels, have had to work extremely hard in response to the pandemic and this, for many of us, has involved a significant shift from ‘normal’ duties. Lots of people are finding themselves doing things on a day-to-day basis that bear no resemblance to their normal job. My morning now begins with a standing 8.30am Covid Tactical Response Meeting and my diary is full of similar meetings involving colleagues from North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire and NHS Lanarkshire.
Other daily duties can now involve many things that may seem at first glance to fall under a ‘management’ as opposed to a ‘leadership’ heading. However, it has become increasingly clear that having safe systems and procedures in place are the critical foundations for leaders to feel confident in leading their teams in the current world we find ourselves in.
When I embarked on the secondment as Leadership Lead, I would never have imagined that a significant part of my remit would be health and safety related, however, I have found it very interesting. I certainly know much more about public health, transmission of viruses, enhanced cleaning regimes and risk assessing than I did last year!
Despite the new responsibilities that have come my way, the leadership aspect of my remit continues and there has been an unexpected positive of the pandemic in this respect. Last year saw the launch of our new leadership framework; North Lanarkshire launched three new leadership courses for Principal Teachers, Depute headteachers and headteachers and these were subsequently endorsed by Education Scotland. Due to the pandemic, we had to make the move to digital delivery for all three courses and this has opened the courses out to colleagues from across Scotland. As a result of this, we have colleagues from as far south as Dumfries and Galloway and as far north as the Shetland Islands on our leadership programmes this session and it has added a whole new dimension and wider-reaching collaborative aspect to it.
Colleagues at every level in North Lanarkshire will continue to figuratively roll their sleeves up in response to Covid-19 and all that that means for educational provision, as indeed will be happening across the country. The ‘Bear Hunt’ continues and for the most part, ‘We’re not scared’, and are looking forward to the day when we catch the bear and start to navigate our way home.
[Michael Jordan quote: Consider Michael Jordan's Advice If You're Struggling Right Now | Inc.com]