I cope with some stuff in my life that I probably shouldn’t be coping with.
For instance, I have a troublesome right knee, and I live in a two-storey home. So, I cope with the stairs. On that knee’s worst days, it bloody hurts too. The truth is, I should be heading to the physio or my GP and developing a treatment plan, but instead I just cope.
As a Principal, I remember coping with the negative comments, in both meetings and at social gatherings, of a valued staff member. She was an exceptional educator, and so I decided that enduring her semi-occasional comments that a certain parent/colleague/student was a complete pain in the neck was a price I could pay. Again, coping with it.
What I needed to do was sit with her and give her a chance to improve. And when I did, I found she’d noticed it too and wanted to break the habit as much as I did.
And as a Teacher, I know I coped with the behaviour of some students as a matter of daily struggle. I also think I coped with my own classroom shortcomings, rather than admit I needed a plan to improve my practice or a plan to get this kid to enjoy school more.
The more I look at it, the more I think I was something of a cope-aholic.
In my observation, coping has developed something of an undeserved positive reputation. It’s something that resilient people apparently do. It’s something useful across periods like a pandemic.
Well, I call bullshit on that.
Coping is mostly for people who prioritise short-term pain and its inevitable anxiety over much-needed long-term change. In schools, this is a recipe for burnout and poor results. Don’t fall for it.
And you’ll be pleased to know the tape I see on my knee as I type this was applied by the physio I saw on Wednesday … when I finally decided to take my own advice.
Keep fighting that good fight,
PS. Big coincidence eh, but I think the best plan a school can build is a plan for a better culture. If you’d like to yarn about a School Culture Partnership for your school, just reply to this email and we’ll make that conversation happen.
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