How I manage my wellbeing as a Careers Leader
13 May 2021
This week is Mental Health Awareness week, 10-16 May. We hear from Mandy Green, Director of Aspiration at Bedford Academy about how she manages her busy role, finds support with other Careers Leaders, and what she does to switch off.
Bedford Academy is a secondary school with approx. 40% Pupil Premium students, which is part of Heart Academies Trust. I am in my eleventh year here, having started as a Head of House when the Academy opened and taken on Careers in my fourth year. My current role is to lead on Careers, Enrichments, Events and Assemblies. It’s a key role in improving the life chances of our students and developing them for life beyond school. I am lucky to have great support form the leadership team and LAB (local advisory board) - in particular my Line Manager and Link Governor.
Despite having a great deal of back up and support, being a Careers Leader is a lonely role. Yes, I have another careers professional working with me, but as a line manager, my role is to support and I try not to offload. Whilst I have developed good relationships with staff, employers, providers etc, it doesn’t provide the same support that you get from being part of a team and I have had to work out coping strategies along the way.
Being one of the first schools to achieve the Gatsby Benchmarks, the quality standard in careers education, a couple of National Awards and having a massive banner outside the school has brought its own pressures too. Add to the mix a range of careers opportunities, resources, virtual events etc and reading about what everyone else is doing can leave me feeling unworthy along with a massive FOMO too!
Supporting one and other
Crying is always a good go too! Joking aside, as a general rule something will make me cry at least once a term. I’m a perfectionist and sometimes I just have to accept that something is good enough. Along with other local Careers Leads we have a light hearted WhattsApp chat where we can share our stresses and strains and bad jokes, as well as asking for help and ideas when needed. This is an absolute life saver, and has been even more so throughout the lockdowns.
I have also begun peer on peer mentoring with Yvonne Ashby, Head of Careers at Wootton Academy Trust. We aim to meet at least once a month to share ideas and stumbling blocks, but this time also allows us to offload without lengthy explanations.
I have known another of the Careers Leads for 18 years and we often meet for a coffee and catch up.
Allowing time to switch off
After many years of working relentlessly I am now being mindful not to work excess hours, to not feel the pressure to do everything and that it is okay to say no. I plan when I am going to work in the school holidays and put my out of office on. I also try to limit my time on social media in the evenings – there is some amazing stuff out there, however it means my mind doesn’t switch off and I’m constantly thinking about work. My current Line Manager is amazing and really helps me to get a sense of perspective.
I also have a puppy – Pebbes or PebblyPoo - who keeps me busy and gets me out whatever the weather!
As above, I think it is good to be honest when things go wrong, or if they are rubbish. Very often we are our own strictest critics!
Something else I do when the pressure mounts up, is to do something creative. I really enjoy taking photos and doing displays. Occasionally I will down tools, grab #Amandaaspiration and find something to take a picture of. I’m currently redoing our careers display which is going to be ‘BA Careers Across the Years’. Looking back at 8 years’ worth of pictures has not only been food for the sole, but has given me new ideas and inspiration too.
Contact details – in case anyone who reads this wants to get in touch: email@example.com
Mandy Green, Director of Aspiration at Bedford Academy.
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