New Year New You

11 Sep 2018 | by Sarah Chambers

Welcome back to another new academic year. I don’t know about you, and maybe it’s got something to do with working in education, but I’ve always found September a more natural start in terms of a new year, compared to January. There’s usually still some warmth in the air and some sunshine around plus most of us have managed a break of some sorts so energy levels and enthusiasm are high.

So, it seems to me a good time to reflect back on 2018 so far and maybe make some new year’s resolutions – even if it’s not a traditional time of year to be doing so! I’ve had the benefit of meeting and working with some inspirational people and attending some great CPD this year – here’s what I’ve learned and what I’m going to continue to try to put into practice during 2018-19.

Be braver: I picked this one up at an Aspire leadership conference in January of this year (see their website here). Aspire run a great mentoring scheme for women in the not for profit sector, which I highly recommend, and I attended as a former mentee, free of charge! It’s very easy when you are busy to stick to things that are safe but we all know that we learn most when we are challenged. And learning is good, right? So whether it’s applying for fellowship of ISBL (see here deadline 30th September) or supporting business managers in your local area, now could be the time to try something out of your comfort zone. Mine? I signed up for a half marathon!

Say no: now, this might seem the opposite of the above but really it is all about prioritising where you want to spend your effort. In my experience, many school business professionals are really bad at saying no, because at heart most of them are kind and helpful people. But think when someone asks, “could you just….” Are you the best person to be doing that? Is there an opportunity to develop someone in your school by delegating? If you say yes to this, what is going to have to give?

It’s all about people: Most of us working in education are people’s people – hard not to be when the whole reason we’re at school is the children! This is a quote from Billie Jean King, regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time and a major influence on change in the game, when she appeared on Desert Island Discs earlier this year (does that count as CPD?!) I’d always been a bit sceptical of networking, as talking to people we don’t know isn’t always the most comfortable thing. But what I’ve discovered this year is that networks are really important, both in terms of knowing who to ask for help to get things done and keeping your ear to the ground but also in terms of having a group of trusted colleagues who can give you honest advice, feedback and ideas! There’s a great article here on networks from the Harvard Business Review here. Not only that, I’ve discovered that networking is fun as I enjoy meeting people and finding out about them. For those of you who think you don’t have the time, there are online networking opportunities on LinkedIn and Twitter. Here’s my profile on LinkedIn if you’d like to connect. I’m always interested in connecting with people and sharing our experiences.


I’d be interested to know what your New Year’s resolutions are!!