Supporting Administrators and School Leaders with Conscious Discipline
When we discuss champions for education, we often default to teachers. And teachers are heroes—the backbone of our educational system. However, we cannot overlook those in administration positions as heroes in their own rights. Superintendents, directors, principals, deans, specialists, and others carry the mental load of decision-making while balancing the responsibilities of student safety, teacher wellbeing, political demands, and community pressure.
As of March 2022, a survey representing 185 districts from 32 states including California reported 44% of superintendents were strongly considering a career transition due to the stress of the job. Another report shows more than 1 in 10 public school principals left the profession between the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years.
ADMINISTRATOR HEALTH = SYSTEMIC HEALTH
Administrators are multi-taskers. On any given day, they’re called upon as instructional leaders, mediators, mentors, operational directors, and so much more. Add the challenges of the current political climate, urgent concerns about students’ physical and digital safety, a staff grappling with lingering classroom behavior and achievement struggles from the pandemic, and budget constraints that often leave gaps where funding is needed most– and you have a recipe for catastrophic stress!
Compassion fatigue, burnout, stress, upset, and trauma have profound impacts on behavior and learning. There is no way around it: If the administrators are suffering, the teachers and students are as well (and vice versa).
Administrator health sets the tone for all involved, so it is essential that we support administrators in a reframe of “self-care,” a healthy shift in perception, and a deep and abiding commitment to self-regulation.
OXYGEN MASKS FOR EDUCATION
Conscious Discipline is an adult-first, trauma responsive practice that focuses on self-regulation. “Put on your own air mask before assisting anyone else.” In the classroom, adults tend to their self-regulation and mindset before attempting to intervene with students. In the world of Administrators, this means ensuring oxygen flow for yourself so you’re up to the task of supporting your staff. Even administrators already implementing Conscious Discipline sometimes excel in identifying the internal states and corresponding strategies for supporting others, but require a little help in self-awareness of the same for themselves. It’s more than basic self-care; it’s a complete shift in perception so you can approach conflict and stress in a healthy way for the long haul.
“Perception is not something we think about often, but it has a significant impact on our emotional state and our behavior. Our perception defines who we believe we are, how we believe our interactions with others should go, and how we believe the world should operate. We view all experiences and conflicts through this lens… In challenging situations, our perception will either help us maintain our composure or make it almost impossible to remain calm,” says Dr. Becky Bailey, creator of Conscious Discipline.
Often, administrators get stuck in unhealthy programming. The beliefs like “if you want something done right, you must do it yourself,” “asking for help is a sign of weakness” “you can’t trust anyone” and “they’re just doing this to make my job hard” are pervasive among those in leadership. This kind of programming is unsustainable in the long term. Conscious Discipline’s Seven Powers for Self-Regulation help free Administrators from harmful mental models like these and encourage them to reclaim their power and recover their sense of wellbeing.
- The Power of Perception: No one can make you angry without your permission.
- The Power of Unity: We are all in this together.
- The Power of Attention: What you focus on, you get more of.
- The Power of Free Will: The only person you can make change is yourself.
- The Power of Love: Seeing the best in others.
- The Power of Acceptance: The moment is as it is.
- The Power of Intention: Mistakes are opportunities to learn.
A shift in perception is one of the highest forms of self-care, and the trickle-down effect is unparalleled. The Powers and their corresponding skills help administrators access the composure necessary to face whatever lies ahead. Like educators, administrators deserve to feel supported, understood and propelled toward their goals—both personal and professional. That is why we’ve developed an intensive 2-day event to address the extremely real, extremely urgent challenges Administrators face every day.
Conscious Discipline for Administrators November 29-30th in Cincinnati, OH will empower you with the skillset and mindset necessary to confidently meet the needs of your staff, your students and yourself. Join us for guidance on how to create an emotionally safe educational environment that fosters mental health and academic success from the top down—starting with you!