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A Guide To Overcoming And Controlling Teacher Guilt From Leadership Expert

Neil Jurd

MORE teachers and senior leaders in education could be suffering from ‘teacher guilt’ without realising it according to a top educational leadership coach @JurdNeil.

Teachers feel they are expected to carry the burdens of the Covid-19 pandemic without any training in leadership, says former combat leader Neil Jurd OBE who works with schools and universities on their leadership and team development skills.

The leadership expert believes that guilt often comes about from lack of leadership and preventing teachers from stepping up to the job they are paid to do.

He said: “With senior positions, you are paid to do a senior leadership job. Guilt prevents teachers in senior positions from stepping up to the job they are paid to do. Instead, they work really hard, but at the wrong level – they try to have a bigger effect by personally working harder, but they worry that it isn’t appropriate to share the work with others.

“Guilt often comes about because the person has no idea how to lead – they have never been taught. So they are being paid more, and have more status, and they don’t have a clue what to do. They have no idea how to be useful in their new role, so they feel guilty and they just work harder at what they know.

“However, by studying leadership and understanding ways in which teachers and senior leaders can be more effective with their time and tasks this, in turn, will put them in control and help prevent them from feeling guilty.”

Taken from his popular book The Leadership Book – A-Step-By-Step Guide To Excellent Leadership; Neil has set out five points for teachers and senior leaders which could help transform their thought process overnight.

  • Remember you are paid to lead, not to be busy

Sometimes it’s not the volume of work but the quality as I’m sure we tell all our students. However, in a leadership position it is not just the quality we should strive for but making sure we are completing the right tasks at the right level. There aren’t any prizes for burning the candle at both ends, it just makes you a tired and weary leader.

  • Engage others in your ideas

You’ll be surprised how happy your colleagues are to be involved with an idea and how willing they are to help you. Often, what leaders forget is that some people enjoy being led.

  • Even though they may not know it, pupils will thank you for having a leadership effect

Ultimately, the impact you have on them is what matters. If you ask anybody as they grow up who their favourite teacher is they will be able to tell you, even if it was 30 years ago.

  • The staff are looking to you for leadership, direction and connection

You serve your colleagues best by providing good and effective leadership. Sometimes that comes down to listening rather than acting. Leading by example doesn’t always mean charging over the hill first.

  • Being a leader is an important role in the team

Leadership is a simple yet very powerful concept which can be mastered by anyone with a clear, open mind. Kind and strong leadership also means happier and more supportive teams and this in turn will spread through the rest of the school and pupils too. So, by leading well you are making an excellent contribution.

Alongside Neil’s successful book high-profile clients, including the NHS, have been buying his virtual learning course which is made up of 30 bespoke videos totalling four hours of leadership and development training.

The videos give users an understanding of leadership, how to build a successful team and how to apply leadership in an effective and positive manner. The course can be used within a team setting or by individuals.

Neil Jurd is the founder of Neil Jurd Leadership and works with senior leaders across the UK.

Neil dedicated 25 years to the army, serving on operational tours in Bosnia, and Sierra Leone. He also commanded a Gurkha squadron in Iraq in 2006-2007. Neil taught leadership at RMA Sandhurst. 

He also runs leadership courses at Sandhurst for the Army Cadet Force. Neil is the Director of Initial Officer training for the ACF.

Neil was awarded an OBE in 2020 for his services to the cadets.

From 2014 until 2019 Neil was Commandant of the Lancashire Army Cadet Force – one of the UK’s largest voluntary youth organisations. Now, he is Director of Initial Officer Training for the ACF nationally.

Neil is also the founder of the Michelle Jurd Trust, a charity formed in memory of his late wife. The charity enables opportunities for children to experience adventure in the outdoors – it has raised more than £200,000.

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