(This is the final part of an 8-part series reflecting on the book, Resilient Ministry: What pastors told us about surviving and thriving.)In a school setting the tasks of management...
'The heart of every leader must be humble, seeking the good of others and suspicious of one's own motives' James Plueddemann, Leading across cultures (Burns, Chapman & Guthrie, p77).
It is almost impossible to manage the expectations of others unless our relationship with the Lord is vital and growing. It is in our relationship with God that we find the strength to see clearly, to differentiate from the emotions of others, and to gain the wisdom and insight to address problems (Burns, Chapman & Guthrie, p.184).
Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology, was one of the earliest researchers to study the characteristics that underpin flourishing. His book Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology, published in 2002, popularised his ideas about how to flourish. Before this, the focus of psychology had been to investigate disorder: why mental illness occurred and how to treat it. Because Dr Seligman believes that his research findings show that an individual can strengthen many of the aspects of behaviour and the virtues he showed to underpin resilience, he would answer YES to the question ‘do we have a choice?’
Educators are regularly reported as belonging to the one of the most stressful occupations. The effects of stress are leading to low teacher retention rates and a high prevalence of burnout. There has to be a better way! How can teachers set about reducing their feelings of burnout and improve motivation and work engagement?
Hardships are the most important element in leadership development (Burns, Chapman & Guthrie, p.47).
The Oxford dictionary defines hardship as something that is difficult to endure and one of the causes of suffering.
Q: Consider the degree to which work is the source of your hope, joy, emotional energy, support and success.
Life and work in a school are consuming. As teachers and life-long learners there is always something new to try in our classroom – a better kind of formative assessment, a new type of questioning, a new interactive app to liven up our lessons.
There’s nothing that strikes more fear into most than knowing you have to have a difficult conversation with someone. For teachers these conversations are unavoidable, whether it be with a student, parent or another staff member. Most people seem to struggle to step into these situations with any degree of confidence, least of all with the hope of resolution and a positive outcome. So how can we have difficult conversations that are mutually edifying and resolve any tensions or difficulty?
What do teaching and pastoral ministry have in common?
Neither teaching or pastoral ministry are just a job. Both are a vocation or calling for the Christian. Both embrace a big picture that requires the person to have vision and expertise that can put that vision into practice, whether in the context of the church or the school.
‘As professions, Teaching and Nursing tend to be at the top of the scale when it comes to lack of self-care.’ (Said by a Clinical Psychologist at an AIS seminar some years ago.) I’ve never forgotten this statement and I’ve always grappled with how we can improve this situation for teachers.