In schools, one mistake can have huge consequences even when it is a tiny fraction of what we do

In our schools we have huge responsibility beyond just focusing on teaching and learning. The level of compliance that schools now have to adhere to, some things for good reason, has placed significant strain on the human resources of a school, namely teachers and school leaders. While governing bodies surrounding education and child welfare have passed on top-down initiatives to schools, little thought has been given to the implementation of what is being required.

The result of this lack of consideration from governing bodies is increased expectations, which places greater responsibility on teachers and school leaders, leading to an overall rise in stress levels. In fact, a number of teachers and school leaders now feel that their roles and responsibilities are no longer what they signed up for.

Nonetheless, so many who care deeply about the profession remain. Education is a calling, a commitment to being able to have a positive impact in society through making a difference to the lives of children we lead, coach and mentor. Most of us, subsequently, work tirelessly in contributing to our respective schools and supporting the students in our care.

With increasing expectations and responsibilities, the chance for teachers and school leaders to make mistakes multiplies. When teachers and school leaders are stretched, they are prone to errors. They are unable to give everything 100% of our attention. The problem with this is that certain mistakes that teachers and school leaders may make can have huge consequences, even if it is a fraction of what they do.

For example, it is possible that a fantastic teacher, who is highly respected, is two minutes late to playground duty, and in that time an accident happens. Depending on the severity of the accident, the context of the school, the expectation of its parent and governing bodies, the consequences can be devastating. As educators, we can find such an outcome difficult to take and process, as we may have given so much to our schools and within a split-second our credibility, even our job, can be swept away.

As school leaders, we need to be mindful of this when we are giving feedback to colleagues. Many teachers and school leaders are inclined to dwell on the negatives associated with any feedback and overlook the positives. As educators, we are intensely proud of the commitment and effort we give to our schools. A comment given to a student or colleague in frustration, overlooking a supervisory duty, or missing a deadline may be enough to have a significant negative impact that attention must be given to the problem, so much so, that everything positive that may have preceded the event is erased away in that moment and, perhaps, for some time after.

Unfortunately, not much is going to change the situation here for the time being but we do need to be mindful that the while we may get it right 99% of the time, that 1% error can be damaging indeed and, sometimes, with lasting consequences.

 

 

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