- In order to be effective, school leaders need to build their own scaffolds of supports by connecting to other leaders through online platforms and by building personal relationships with peers in their community, Jessica Cabeen, an award-winning middle school principal, advises in an Edutopia article.
- School leaders also need to commit to reading materials that give them fresh perspectives on issues and share those perspectives with other teachers and students under their charge. Building routines that support self-care —such as planning for time to exercise, spending time with friends and family or engaging in stress-reducing hobbies — is also important for maintaining good physical and mental health.
- Activities such as journaling and practicing mindfulness can also help school leaders reflect on situations and decisions, reframe them into opportunities rather than challenges and approach other people in a less stressful and more constructive frame of mind, she writes.
While leadership does demand commitment, the idea that it demands the sacrifice of one’s own well-being is a dangerous myth, write the authors of “The Complete Guide to Work Life Balance for School Leaders.” Principals and administrators who fail to maintain a good work-life balance, or at least a proper work-life blending, will often show evidence of this failure physically or in their declining ability to deal with other people. The stress of the job can also cause principals to abandon their posts — to the detriment of students and the school district as a whole.
Principals face a high degree of stress, often from multiple sources. Their days are spent working with dealing students, teachers, staff, district administrators, parents, and community members. By finding ways to care for themselves, to find balance in their lives, and to preserve their own sanity, principals will be able to do a better job of responding to all the people and demands they daily face. Learning to deal with this stress also allows school leaders to set an example for teachers, who also need to practice self-care techniques to maintain their own positive approach in the classroom.
Reading and sharing books is one way school leaders can help pass on the strategies they are learning to become more effective. Some school leaders can also benefit from delegating tasks, as this can help build capacity and trust among employees while also allowing leaders to share their load. Practicing mindfulness is another way for leaders to demonstrate to teachers and students ways to handle stress. As school leaders learn how to put their own lives and jobs into perspective, they are also teaching others under their charge to do that as well.