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Ed Eval TIG Week: Self-care for Leaders by Tiffany Squires

Hello! I’m Tiffany Squires, and I am a member of the faculty in Educational Leadership for Penn State University. I study high quality leadership practice and apply it to developing aspiring school leaders for practice. It’s widely accepted and understood, by those of us working as professional in schools, that the principal’s role is as challenging as it is extensive. Principals establish culture for us in the school, build relationships with and among us based on trust and mutual respect, lead change for reforms that are imposed upon us by State government, and, arguably, the principal plays the most important role in developing and maintaining high quality instructional staff for meeting the needs of all learners in the school. All in a day’s work!

As a result of a program evaluation conducted to ascertain the needs of aspiring leaders, the importance of self-care in leadership was revealed, both for managing effectively in the day-to-day and also for sustaining leadership practice overtime. Self-care is a means of balance for leaders between their work and their mental, emotional, social, and psychological health.

Hot Tip: Principals may administer self-care for the good of themselves and their practice!

·       Rise early: Start each day by waking early as a means of practicing self-discipline that promotes health, wellness, productivity, and concentration for principal leadership
·       Stay active: Incorporate exercise like walking, running, swimming, biking, yoga, etc. into your daily routine to increase energy, improve health, and reduce stress for moving effortlessly from meeting to meeting throughout the day
·       Practice mindfulness: Breathe, use positive affirmations, be present, set intentions, notice external surroundings, pause to show self-compassion, stretch, and meditate to resist surrendering to a hectic pace typical of school leaders and eliminate stress
·       Practice empathy: Put yourself in another person’s position to better understand and interact with others as a means of fostering healthy feelings and relationships with others in the school
·       Communicate well: Greet people when they arrive, actively listen to people when they speak, listen to what people are not saying, pause to notice little important things, write succinctly and clearly, and ask for honest feedback to communicate well with others
·       Practice reflection: Take moments to stop and reflect on what just happened, create a routine for reflecting on a daily basis, and engage with others in reflection for processing and decision-making related to leadership practice
·       Eat well: Make healthy choices for snacks and meals to promote good physical health and provide yourself with the fuel you need to keep yourself and the school running.
·       Stay hydrated: Drink water gradually throughout the day to maintain the function of every system in your body, boost mental function, improve your mood, and increase your energy for engaging in meaningful and/or difficult discussions with others
·       Celebrate success: React to things that go right more that things that go wrong helps a leader to foster positive relationships and proactively address conflict and discipline matters that inevitably arise in schools
·       Get plenty of rest Sleep 8hrs per night to stave off illness, promote healthy heart and body functions, and lower stress for enhanced decision-making and conflict resolution as needed throughout the day


Rad Resources: More self-care suggestions can be found in these resources!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Ed Eval TIG Week with our colleagues in the PreK-12 Educational Evaluation Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our Ed Eval TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

1 thought on “Ed Eval TIG Week: Self-care for Leaders by Tiffany Squires”

  1. Hi Tiffany, I’m doing some marketing to principals about restorative justice in schools, and absolutely LOVED your blog. I would like your permission to reproduce it and include it in 2 places:
    1) as a “leader” in my newsletter which will go out this month
    2) and on my Blog page on my website. The newsletter will have a “read more” link to my site.
    You will be fully credited as author in all places. This is an important message and fits well with what I’m conveying about school culture and restorative justice. Thank you for considering my request. (And I am trying to get RJ into teacher and leader prep programs…you seem open to helping leaders build a healthy and positive school culture. Check out my book “Creating Restorative Schools” – and if you’d like to know more, we can arrange to have a complementary desk copy sent to you for review, as you may find a way to integrate it into some courses on culture and climate.”

    Thanks! Martha Brown
    Martha Brown

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