There have been two posts I have been thinking about writing recently. I thought of the first one when I read all those wonderful #Nurture1314 posts. The second has been at the back of my mind for many months now. This morning I read a post from Chocolate Tzar. This post talked about why she posts anonymously. This really got to me. Everything she said there resonated with me. Now, anyone reading my post will know that I’m not posting anonymously, but this wasn’t always the case. My first few posts were posted under a pseudonym (don’t go searching for them, that blog doesn’t exist anymore!). A few people, who I would trust with my life, knew I was the author of those posts. They understood the reason for the anonymity. At about the same time I had made my Twitter account private too and the reason for doing that was the same reason for posting anonymously.
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When I joined Twitter I did so to get in touch with people who shared my interests. Then something happened which really upset me. Someone decided to take a screenshot of one of my tweets and trotted off to someone I worked with and showed it to that person. As the screenshot was of just one tweet and not the whole thread, there was no context to it. The person to whom it was shown to then asked me why I was tweeting about them! I had to explain that the tweet was about a dear friend of mine and not them, and that if the stalker (yes, that is what I consider that person to be) had taken the trouble to read the whole thread it would have been evident who I was talking about. I also made it clear that I had never tweeted about anyone I worked with. EVER! I still don’t know who the stalker was (is?!) and frankly, I don’t care anymore. But at that time I did. There was so much else happening at that time that this was something I could have done without. My daughter is one of the people I follow. The thought that my stalker could stalk my daughter through me was my biggest fear. I’m an adult and can deal with most things. The probability that my daughter would be stalked too was very high because of the people involved. This was something I dreaded and this is what made me lock my Twitter account. I started blogging shortly after this incidence and did so anonymously for the same reason. So, you see I totally understand where Chocolate Tzar is coming from. It is sad that people have to blog anonymously, but as long as there are people like my stalker and those she came across out there, someone of us have no choice but to remain anonymous in order to be ourselves!
The above links to the second half of my post in a roundabout way! Many of the posts I’ve read recently talk about work/life balance. As governors we are supposed to take this into account as part of our duty of care towards our heads and other staff. What I want to say to governors is that don’t forget that you have a duty of care towards your fellow governors and yourself! We are volunteers so we do our governing body related work in the time we have left after we’ve done our day jobs and seen to the family. Sometimes, the family comes last. We all have mortgages and bills to pay and may not be able to take time off work to do our GB related work. The only thing we can do is use the time we should be spending with family. I have yet to hear anyone say that governors are owed a duty of care and that our work/life balance matters too. Some will, I’m sure, say that as we are volunteers, it is our choice to join governing bodies and so we shouldn’t complain when the governing body takes over our lives. The fact that we are volunteers is exactly why it matters. Yes, we have chosen to be governors but that doesn’t mean we should be taken advantage of! Last year I was so snowed under governance that I neglected family and friends. I used to stay up all hours doing what needed to be done. There were times when the last thing I thought of at night and the first thing I thought of upon waking was governance. I stopped going out to meet friends. My children couldn’t understand why I did not have time to do things with them, like I used to. I went to stay with my parents for a couple of weeks and there too I was constantly on my laptop which did not make me very popular! Things got to such a state that I was told by a friend that, for the sake of my sanity, I needed to switch off my laptop and phone and spend the whole weekend in the garden! What heads and others in education may not realise is that governors have no one to talk to except colleagues on their own governing bodies (if we are lucky!). If things are not going well, then by the very nature of governance these are probably confidential matters and cannot be discussed with anyone outside one’s own GB. This may make some of us blog anonymously in order to try and find support and answers.
I’ve just read an article titled “It’s lonely at the top“. The article is about school leaders and the stresses of the job. There is no mention of governors and how they can find it stressful and lonely too. School leaders are probably more at liberty to discuss issues with their spouses, but because of confidentiality issues, the same is not true of governors. The article says that heads may find it difficult to talk to governors about their problems. Well, governors would find it even harder to talk to heads about problems they may be having! So, remember you do a very important job, you are a volunteer but you need work/life balance too and that you are owed a duty of care too.
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This will only happen when governors are considered to be part of leadership and management by everyone and not just Ofsted!