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7 Questions with Bernii Godwin
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7 Questions with Bernii Godwin
Name: Bernii Godwin
Current title: Behaviour Education Consultant
Current organisation: Godwin Consulting
Bernii has been working in the field of education since 2002. She has a master’s qualification in Social Work and a Graduate Certificate in Neuropsychotherapy which complements her undergraduate study, Bachelor of Human Services/Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice (majoring in youth and family justice). In addition, Bernii is a Loving on Purpose Trainer.
A core component of social work in education is to assist students and families to improve their personal and social wellbeing. Bernii’s experience and qualifications have refined her ability to identify issues that require change, supporting clients through the referral process as they engage in the change cycle. In order to do this effectively, social workers have a breadth of knowledge of human behaviour and development, life cycles changes, families and social networks, disability and health, including mental health.
Bernii has had the privilege of working with a full spectrum of human services and behaviour ages including maternity through to aged care. This breadth of experience and education has provided her a unique opportunity to speak into the lives of individuals, families, schools and organisations to coach them in developing an understanding of their own needs and how to meet those needs effectively whilst respecting the rights of others.
Predominantly working in the educator sector, Bernii has applied her skills in helping schools, children, and families to develop their own internally responsible behaviour cultures. These internal cultures promote healthy boundaries, connection, love and respect. As a result, she has witnessed many cultural shifts in the lives of individuals and school communities from fear and control toward love, trust, honour and joyful responsibility.
Further to this, Bernii provides professional supervision using a reflective approach to both individuals and teams in the education sector. Professional supervision provides an opportunity for educators to reflect on their practice in an informal and safe environment in which the client has the freedom to set the agenda and direction of the discussions. It is widely documented that awareness and self-efficacy is the most effective tool in preventing vicarious trauma; awareness being the core ingredient to engaging in reflective practice.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader in the education sector?
One of the biggest challenges as a leader in the education sector is finding school cultures and staff who want to break the irresponsibility cycle that reinforces powerlessness and instead empower leaders and students to manage their responsibility and freedom well as they learn how to be powerful people through mistake making within boundaries and limits. The challenge is finding those people who want to take action rather than complain and do nothing to be part of the solution.
2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
At least one day a week I work on my book, three days a week I consult with students on behalf of principals at various campuses for various schools and one day a week I provide professional supervision for heads of schools, principals and wellbeing staff. My day consists of coffee, lots of driving and carefully constructed schedules to ensure that when I am with clients they are getting my focused attention and that I am prepared for sessions. I structure the majority of my one-on-one work in the morning when I focus best and my case note writing in the afternoon when I enjoy doing admin. I have found a good balance and see value in each task. Since each day I can be working for a different school it is essential that I communicate clearly and if it is not urgent that I wait until the scheduled day before responding to that school. The today I build is the tomorrow I live in.
3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
I learned this from Rare Leadership by Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder. "Mature Leaders are rare. Maturity is defined as enduring hardship well. We all suffer. We all endure hardship. What separates maturity from immaturity is the ability to suffer well. RARE= Remain Relational + Act Like Yourself + Return to Joy = Endure Hardship Well
4. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Business of Honor by Bob Hasson and Danny Silk
I read this book very early on in my leadership journey, at the time I am not sure I actually realised I was a leader. I was responsible for a little wellbeing team in a small school. Business of Honor is the story of Bob learning about his own identity and worth, it was through Bob's testimony that I started to reflect on my own value and worth. My confidence grew and with it opportunities started to track me down. I am not a leader because I sought to be, these days I get phone calls and go where the need is. I have never needed to advertise, my goal has been to serve well and honourably. Schools are full of hurting people and that is before you enrol any students.
5. How do you find and keep great leaders in the education sector?
Great leaders run on the fuel of joy. Leaders who use fear will burn themselves out and everyone they lead too. Their tools will include shame, anger, threats and manipulation. If you want to find and keep great leaders in education then you need to stop promoting high performing, result driven immature leaders and promote mature leaders who can return to job and manage their emotions well.
6. What's most important as a leader in the education sector for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?
Their commitment to building relational Joy. Joy is not about fun. It is about relational connection. Forcing the staff to go bowling as a team is not going to solve the week's stress in a school. It is when everyone feels connected with one another who are happy to see them that they experience joy. If you want a highly relational team, you need a relational bonded team, not one living in fear of the leader's mood swing. (RARE Leadership and Keep Your Love On, Danny Silk). Passion, love and Sacrifice are all natural outgrowths of a joy-filled culture. Teams will either fear-bond or joy-bond. There is no other option, and the leader sets the culture.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader in the education sector so far?
I work with teams across many schools. Recently I worked with a team to support a young person who is disengaged from school as their primary case manager. I had completed a needs assessment and had provided detailed stages of an engagement plan; a recent event had resulted in a 'freeze' response from the student. Initially I received a flurry of emails from the teacher calling for an urgent meeting concerned by the behaviour. I trusted my team that they had the tools and waited the full week until my set day to visit that school. On the day of my visit they informed me that they had met as a team, reviewed the stages set out, returned to joy thus settling their urgent emotions and knew what the next step was, which was exactly which was on my calendar for my normal session for the week anyway. They had resolved that their was no problem anyway. I was proud of them and I was not required to do anything. It may seem simple, but one of my goals as a leader is to not work harder on your life than you are and that goes for the staff I work with as well as students. I want them to feel empowered to solve their own problems.