Why the Well-Being of the School Head Matters

Vol. 16 No. 6

head eletter vol16 no6 wellbein

It can be easy to put the needs of all others before your own when you’re the School Head. Teachers, staff, students, parents, and Board members all require your attention and care, and it feels like there are never enough hours in a day.

But research proves that the well-being of the School Head can have a profound impact on the school. ISM recently conducted a research study that analyzed how the well-being of the School Head truly influences school outcomes, including faculty culture, student enrollment, and the Head’s own long-term success. (This research was published in Ideas & Perspectives, our advisory periodical, and is available in full to ISM Members. If you’d like to access this research study and many others, click here to learn more about membership.)

The study examined the survey results of 131 School Heads who had an average length of 25 years in education. The results, while not causal, indicated that School Head well-being absolutely does affect personal and professional success, leading to improved faculty culture and overall school performance, including enrollment demand. At the same time, the study found that school performance, the support the Head experiences, and the faculty culture conversely influence the Head’s well-being.

With these findings in mind, it’s imperative for the Head to make his or her own well-being a priority. This can be especially difficult for individuals who thrive as Heads. You’re probably used to taking on new challenges and being the first to take on additional tasks. This can often equate to a never-ending to-do list and constant time commitments.

But by making your own social-emotional well-being a top priority, you’ll not only benefit yourself, but also the performance of those around you, and the success of the school. Below we’ve compiled a few places to start when considering how to take better care of yourself.

Incorporate movement into your day. There have been numerous studies on the positive effects of movement on both physical and mental well-being. However, movement doesn’t have to be an hour at the gym or a killer class that leaves you feeling like you can’t move the next day. Try taking a walk before or after the school day, checking in with teachers or staff members by walking to their classroom or office, or taking the long route to the cafeteria or gymnasium. Small changes can make a big impact.

Make good food choices. How many times have you arrived at school and, before you knew it, it was already 2 p.m. and you hadn't eaten anything that day? Suddenly you’re starving, so you dig into a bag of chips or box of cookies to stave off hunger. Instead, make a conscious effort to choose to eat food made from healthy ingredients every few hours to avoid becoming too hungry—and making poor choices. Stay balanced to help do your best for your students and your school.

Sleep. It’s probably no surprise that adults need seven to nine hours of sleep. But many of us don’t get nearly that amount. Make a concerted effort to shut down at night to rest and recharge, giving you a clear mind for the day ahead.

Start small and don’t give up. You don’t have to change every aspect of your life at once. Concentrate on making small changes. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make a good food choice or you get to bed late. Accept that life happens, but focus on continually making choices that positively impact your well-being. In time, they add up.

Would you add anything to our list? Let us know in a comment below.

Additional ISM Resources:
The Source for Private School News Vol. 17 No. 4 Be a Healthier You in 2018

Additional Resources for ISM Members:
I&P Vol. 42 No. 10 Well-Being, Executive Leadership, and School Performance
I&P Vol. 42 No. 12 Primary Drivers of School Outcomes: Insights From Our Executive Leadership and Well-Being Study
Vol. 42 No. 14 Executive Leadership: The Relationships Between Predictability and Support, the School Head's Well-Being, and Faculty Culture

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