Mr Andrew Hawkins – Deputy Headmaster and Head of Senior School
The final term of the year is a busy time in schools. End of year reporting, class allocations, timetabling, budgets and planning for next year usually swamp staff. The boys also begin their pre-season training for 2020 activities and balance their academics at a time when their energy levels are low. After a big year, parents sometimes also feel we are running on empty.
By the end of the year we are all more likely to be sensitive, ‘thin skinned’ and emotional because we are run down and in need of that well-earned break. We shouldn’t be surprised. The same thing happens at this time every year. The important thing is how we respond to this challenge.
We will reinforce at Assembly this week, the importance of both the boys and staff monitoring our self-talk, as our sensitivities are particularly important at this time of the year. We are far more susceptible to allowing irritations that would not normally have an effect on us, to get to us. Our resistance is low and we are vulnerable to sensitivities from outside and poor decisions within. Now is the time to watch our words, resist the temptation to act on impulse, or to make decisions on the run.
It is when times are tough and we are tired that reputations are truly made – that is why camps are such an important part of education. A harsh or insensitive word to someone can undermine our good work in building relationships throughout the year. These relationships are at the core of what we do here at TSS. It is important to be aware of our moods and on guard and that both staff and students all think before we act.
Remember back to the start of the year. Most of us start the year with energy, vim and vigor. We were rejuvenated by the break and were ready to put all of our energies into being as effective as we possibly could. It is important to finish strong, just like we started the year. Whilst our reserves may be running low, I will remind the boys this week that it is vital we all remain focused and finish the year well. Our credibility in the eyes of others is based on results. Not just academic results, but our ability to complete what we started, meet academic deadlines and follow tasks through to completion.
Stephen MR Covey talks about when world-class marathon runners ‘hit the wall’ and they feel like they can’t go on, instead of focusing on their exhaustion and how tired they are feeling and going into the ‘survival shuffle’, they lift up their head and pick up the pace. This analogy is applicable to the staff and students at TSS at this time of the year as our school years can often feel like marathons given it is such a busy place. By picking up the pace, we are not just saying we are going to finish year, but we are going to finish strong.
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