Bushtucker trials or DFE guidance? What a choice. Which one will help you survive?

On Sunday, the latest batch of celebrities started their “I’m a Celebrity” jungle adventure in Wales. Excited does not come close to describing how I feel and the time is blocked out in my diary. Self-care at a new level.

It will be a different show this year – especially in terms of the weather as there is no comparison with the Australian outback. But, some things are still the same – a group of people coming together solving challenges to get a successful outcome. Does that sound familiar?

As a leader and educator, I really enjoy this show as it often replicates leadership in schools. It is time for an honesty check here – have you ever said or thought “I’m a school manager get me out of here”?

On TV we see all the ways in which team dynamics are created from friendship to fireworks. Yes, that is what education does when you put people together. Daily challenges, the normal, go-to routines and then the specific and “interesting” jungle challenges that they have to do individually and as a team. Yes, education has that too.. from day to day routines, teacher assessments to bubbles and PPE. We see the dramas, the politics, the success and failure of the teams through a production team lens that is then shown to the world. What do we learn from this?

"Asking for help is not a sign of weakness."

It is the adaptable person that survives to the end of the game. Just as Charles Darwin deduced from his work “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

The unprecedented and extraordinary challenges in 2020 have created opportunities for school leaders like you to adapt. From moving to virtual teaching at the speed of light to updated risk assessments and procedures – all of us have had to navigate challenges. But, is there one area that needs particular attention so that your school community can survive these times?

How are you? Those three words are the ones that leaders do not want people to ask them right now. To answer this may create more fear for you than tackling the snake bushtucker trial. But why? We take all of us into work every day, but why is it so hard to ask for help? Is this pandemic a call for change so that the wellbeing and mental health of leaders comes to the top of the agenda?

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign that you need support to help you keep your community together in these difficult times. From one leader to another, it is time to share three ways to help you to take the first step.

1. Ask the question “What do you need from me to help you/us?”

People around you are looking and wanting to help and it is time to let them in. This question was my snake bushtucker trial – as it came at a time when my partner and I could not be together in person because of the lockdown. He could not do the usual things, like cooking, so I could eat and go - but he did a one hour zoom call every day so that we could talk and we drew up our own wellbeing schedule together. Shame you can’t do ironing remotely! Ask this question, and plan together – your community will thank you for it.

2. Get a journal.

Any book of paper will do – lined or plain. At the end of each day, write down everything that has happened. Just keep writing everything down – how you felt and what happened. Once you have nothing left to write down, close the book and put it somewhere safe. Note to self – keep it at home in a place where only you know or your anxiety levels will go up. This will improve your sleep which is a silent superpower to help your day.

3. Pick three ways to adapt.

Look at your day. In what three ways can you adapt your routine to include some self-care for you? It could be a walk at lunch, outdoor meetings or creating a date night.

Adapting your self-care to our new lockdown reality is the key to being well and moving forwards. Or, you could decide that a bushtucker trial is for you.