“Lead with hope not fear” Michelle Obama

A few reasons why I love ‘Hopeful Schools’ by Mary Myatt

1: The chapters are not too long. I know, I could have started with a humdinger rather than an ode to my own illiteracy but this is important. Mary has structured her book really well. I tend to look at the contents page and follow an interesting heading rather than read chapter to chapter. Yes, you can approach it from a more linear, traditional method (the book is laid out in five developing sections) but I have been intrigued by chapters such as ‘Today is not tomorrow’, ‘The ethic of everybody’ and ‘The feeling of dread’. I enjoy dipping in to this book over coffee. There’s a sense of satisfaction finishing the chapter before your drink goes cold.

2: Mary understands the importance and impact of humane leadership. She has clearly experienced it and seen how important it is. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on Attention. I had fallen foul to focussing upon the negatives last term and seen how this had a knock on effect, especially with staff. The chapter simply explained how noticing the positives impact upon our approach. Nothing new, but beautifully put over two pages. For a busy head teacher I once again marvel at how my attitude can be refocused so quickly. This is a mighty thing to do and would cost you a packet in consultancy.

This is a book I will go back to to ensure I attune myself once again. It’s pages will be marked and certain parts will become frayed and worn. Not every page spoke to me but that is why this book is important. Any aspiring (or experienced) leaders will find something in the 42 chapters. It is well backed by research and plenty of examples worth following up and it always feels like a wise and calm read.

I am jealous of this book because I wish I had written it. What many might not pick up from my blog is despite all the self criticism – it is hope that has kept me going this long (13 years a head and counting). This book is a wonderful reminder as to why being positive as we face the many challenges in schools today; having faith and hope that our actions will make a profound difference; that being humane in the face of adversity – these things are bigger than the title at the top of our job descriptions. Building humane communities is something worth living for.

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