School leader leadership and flow

Flow is an interesting concept and one that not many have given much thought to in the past as it pertains to education and in particular, the teaching enterprise. As educators, do we ever lose our flow? According to MacNeill (2013) apparently not. It appears that flow merely ebbs and then rises again as new emotional, mental or social challenges and situations arise. Flow is momentum, and momentum is not only caught up partly in one’s personal motivation for a particular task but is also deeper than that - it relates to how things get done, how one goes about tackling a task.

This is not to say that the strength of the flow is constant, de-motivating activities such as an ineffective bureaucracy or poor and ineffective line management, personal health or insecurity can impede the flow, but not stop it. When such events take place, boldness increases and one is more prone to engage in greater risk-taking and experimentation. When challenges are being met an individual's flow increases, often carrying all before them; increasing personal efficacy and confidence and as barriers disintegrate adding focus and force to my activity. Urgency often results in an increased flow, channelling the focus and actions to achieve a desired timeline and outcome.

Flow relates to an ability to adapt to circumstances, and underpins both the strategies and methods one applies as a teacher. The degree of flow is linked with the risk-willing disposition of a school’s leadership and staff. It is about creativity, a working disposition that has one working to other than set ways and traditional conventions and consequently has an air of unpredictability about it. An educator’s flow is ongoing, and helps identify the momentum and self-efficacy to tackle any task or action encountered. One’s flow is retarded at times by blockages that are strewn in the path which directly retard momentum and impact subsequently on motivation, but it is always there: builds up and eventually helps break through the barriers. So, at times the flow may be disrupted but it is never stopped.

Mental flow is increased when a situation calls for new ways of thinking, looking outside the envelope for solutions. Such events are uplifting and liberating for an individual. New knowledge and finding ways to apply it increase our flow and desire to seek out more knowledge. Flowever, this can also be depressing when one comes to the realisation that there is so much more to learn, so little time and a workforce that is not abreast of the knowledge that it takes time for them to catch up with of thinking currency. When one avenue of mental flow is disrupted it emerges with new thinking in a different area or sphere. The flow is merely channelled elsewhere, not stopped.

Emotional flow, how one reacts with others and to events is more erratic than mental flow. Emotional flow is disrupted in having to deal with situations that tend to evolve from the more irrational side of human interaction and thought. Dealing with selfishness, personal agendas that having nothing to do with the organisations greater good and self-promotion affect an individual’s emotional flow, particularly when these events interrupt the momentum of the whole school. Constantly dealing with the naysayers disrupts emotional flow and at times motivation. The best reaction is usually to seek a counterbalance and not to let such irrational thinkers get in the way.

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