Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do
I’m Ruth Whiteside and I’m a recovering teacher!
After 20 years working in primary schools as both teacher and senior leader, I‘m now my own boss. In February 2016, I experienced what I thought was a heart attack. A colleague of mine took me in hand and suggested perhaps it was a panic attack. ‘Go home via your GP’ she said. So I did; I was signed off work until May, sent for therapy sessions and given anti-anxiety medication.
That September, I started working at another school – this did wonders for my confidence and equilibrium, but I could also feel how much my experience had changed me. I knew I wanted to move away from the relentless pressure of school and work towards making schools better places to be, for the adults as well as the pupils.
Tell us about your business
My core business, Coaching Solutions for Schools, is about unlocking our potential through developing and applying emotional intelligence in everything we do.
My hashtag is #beintentional – I believe we should take more responsibility for our actions, understand why we think, feel and act the way we do.
I work with teachers to help them achieve this so that they can be more intentional in their professional, and personal, lives.
What are the most sparkly bits of what you do?
I love meeting teachers and hearing their stories. To be able to help and support them in their own development is very rewarding – I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through but, sadly, there are too many teachers out there who are in crisis.
What are the biggest challenges you face running your business?
I’m still so new on the scene so I’m working hard to get my name out there. After 20 years of looking after everyone else, I’m finding it very difficult selling myself and my experience!
What have been your biggest achievements and how have you celebrated them?
Receiving my first cheque for a good job well done; I celebrated buying myself a sparkly watch to remind myself every day why I do what I do.
What are your goals – for yourself and your business?
Ultimately? To change the culture that has crippled so many of us with stress and anxiety.
The head teacher of any given school might be the most understanding head teacher in the world, but they are held to account for everyone else’s performance. They have their own pressures to contend with. Only when systems and culture change will we see teachers enjoying their work.
A happy teacher means happy pupils … and when you have happy pupils, academic results improve … so then the head is happy – and so is everyone else!
What is your favourite place in the North East and why?
Only one? I love the Simonside Hills, wild and windy! Really, anywhere I can walk so I can give myself a break from work.
Who puts a Sparkle in your eye?!
My lovely Romeo – my dog! We go walking together (well, he runs, I‘m much more sedate than that!)
A final Sparkly thought – what tips would you give to busy, hard-working entrepreneurs?
My favourite tool for when there are too many things to do and not enough time:
- Fold an A4 sheet into four, flatten it out again.
- In the top left hand quarter, write Important AND Urgent, top right Urgent, bottom left Important and bottom right Not Important OR Urgent.
- Put your tasks and deadlines in the appropriate box – it’ll help you to prioritise more effectively!
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