Mr. Krabs has the most popular burger place in all of ‘Bikini Bottom’ (that is the name of an underwater town if you do not know). His success is underpinned by the Krabby patty that he uses in his restaurant. There is a secret formula to this patty. Whilst no one knows the secret ingredients, one critter of the ocean, namely ‘Plankton’, knows that this secret formula is kept hidden by Mr. Krabs. He spends his entire life trying to steal the secret formula but fails every time. He doesn’t give up though. His wife, an underwater robot, explains that the cause of his failure is Sponge Bob Square Pants, and therefore, he needs to get rid of SpongeBob.
Now if you have not seen the movie, you will not know that Plankton manages to trap SpongeBob and gets him accused at Poseidon’s palace for treason (of a sort) in order to steal the secret formula in his absence. So SpongeBob is about to be executed. Not knowing where SpongeBob had disappeared to, Mr. Krabs fell in despair. In fact, he was so depressed at SpongeBob’s disappearance that when Plankton showed up, Mr. Krabs handed him a little paper that contained the ingredients to his Krabby Patty. Plankton was shocked as all his life he had been chasing this secret formula and all of a sudden, it’s being handed over to him. He didn’t feel like he had won. Seeing his archenemy in depression made him realize that there was no purpose to his life without that non-stop struggle between him and Krabs. Plankton decided to tell Mr. Krabs that SpongeBob had been trapped in Poseidon’s palace and wanted to help him save him. At this point, all of SpongeBob’s friends including Mr. Krabs arrive at the palace to defend SpongeBob and hopefully stop the execution. This is when Mr. Krabs reveals that the secret formula to his Krabby patty was never the ingredients. It was SpongeBob all along. It was his kindness at the till, his positivity with the customers, his smiling and laughing, and endless optimism. He wanted to be everyone’s friend and that’s what made Krusty Krab (the burger place) successful.
I share this because I think school leadership needs to suck in a bit of SpongeBob. The UK has some great schools and some great leaders; however, vast numbers of schools are still run under outdated leadership methods. In a study by YouGov, 75% of the 1250 school and college leaders surveyed said that they had experienced psychological, physical, or behavioral symptoms because of work, significantly higher than the UK working population (62%). Senior leaders reported the highest levels of stress in 2019 (84%). A more recent study revealed that more than half of educational professionals had considered leaving the sector in the past two years. And the two major reasons given were the volume of workload (75%) and not feeling valued (65%). The dilemma is that an institution that is built around making children feel valued – misses the same theme for its staff. Making staff feel valued is one of the core responsibilities of leadership. There are countless books on business management around building a culture of staff appreciation, and the biggest benefit of which is seen as retention and reduction in absenteeism, which translates as cost reduction in the corporate world. Anyone who has worked in the education sector will know someone who will break all forms of politeness and courtesy when under pressure. This might be common in the corporate world, but when you are teaching young children about respect whilst forgetting that it also applies to you - that might be a little hypocritical. A recently published article by the University College London suggests that although increasing accountability may bring about short-term improvements in student performance, this could be counterproductive if it reduces teacher supply in the long-term and leads to shortages of high-quality teachers. The researchers analyzed data from the 2018 Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) of over 100,000 teachers from more than 40 countries. They found that England sits towards the top of the ‘accountability’ scale and that high levels of measurements of educational performance - such as school assessments being used to make judgments about the effectiveness of teachers, whether there are school league tables and whether there are inspections of schools - could partly be driving higher stress levels among teachers in England. So, is it not possible to have good emotional intelligence in schools where accountability is sky-high? Of course, it is. As we educate our children to be respectful and honest in a day where the same qualities are scarce, we need to educate our leaders as well that having the right ingredients is not enough.
The secret formula is to be a little SpongeBob! Author: Vijith Vijay Twitter: www.twitter.com/inboxvijith Facebook: www.facebook.com/inboxvijith Instagram: @mrvijithvijay Email: firstname.lastname@example.org References: Pressure on teachers damaging mental health and wellbeing - https://www.educationsupport.org.uk/about-us/press-centre/pressure-teachers-damaging-mental-health-and-wellbeing Work-related stress in the teaching profession has increased for a third consecutive year - https://www.educationsupport.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/work-related-stress-teaching-profession-has-increased-third-consecutive-year Staff Appreciation Ideas – https://www.betterleadersbetterschools.com/staff-appreciation-ideas/ Teachers point towards school accountability as the main driver of stress | Institute of Education - UCL – University College London - https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/news/2021/mar/teachers-point-towards-school-accountability-main-driver-stress