Being Willow

Primary school leader and mum of three, Lauar Nwanya (@being_willow) explains how her leadership experience, including supporting staff during lockdown culminated in a wellbeing support service for teachers during her third maternity leave.

During my maternity leave with my son Myles, I knew it was going to be my last.  After three beautiful children we knew our family was complete and for that reason I wanted to throw myself into the maternity leave as much as possible: school runs, lazy days in front of the TV, coffee meet ups etc.  I also had the added luxury that one of my closest friends had a baby 10 days after me – so we were in this together.  

But after a few weeks, I wanted to use my brain again and I started to feel I needed a little more to fill my time.  Especially when Myles was napping during the day.   At first it was through baking and reading books but then I had an inspiring chat with a family member about teaching and the struggles faced by those in the profession and very quickly, ‘Being Willow’ was created!

I had been a leader in primary education for many years. In that time, I felt staff morale was dropping year on year.  Teachers were so stressed and overwhelmed.  Incredible teachers were feeling no good at their jobs because it felt impossible to be abe to achieve what was being asked of them each day.   Well-being had always been a passion of mine, so I wanted to create something that would help support teachers and help them re-discover their work life balance.   

 During COVID, my team were struggling just like many others.  I had listened to a podcast that had given the analogy of ‘being a willow tree in a storm.’  It explained that, during change and tough times a willow tree had the ability to bend and move accordingly.  This was in comparison to the rigid oak tree that would remain rigid and firm – often with branches snapping in the storm.  Our team quickly adopted the phrase ‘I am being a willow’ during those tough times to help us be calm and remind us to adapt to each challenge we were facing.  Even during my maternity leave, I would be connecting with old colleagues and using this analogy to support them through the challenges they were facing.                            

My first ever podcast created when Myles was a few weeks old.   It felt truly amazing, incredibly positive and I felt that even if I had helped one person it was worth it.  Over my maternity leave I recorded a couple more podcasts and wrote several blogs to share some tips and techniques that may help others.  My partner helped me to create an incredible logo and I began to share my ideas on great well-being techniques on X.

Now I have returned full time to work, my progress on this has slowed down.  But as my children get older and I start to get more free time back – it is something that I will pursue.  My dream is to hold well-being seminars, particularly for early careers teachers and create well-being videos on TikTok.    I love teaching and I know many others who love it to; Being Willow is all about creating that community to support one another through those tough times.  If you know someone who would like to have a chat about well-being and how to manage the work life balance – I am always looking for more people to interview! 

Laura acts as The MTPT Project’s North London Regional Representative.  To join her WhatsApp group and get involved in The MTPT Project community in this region, contact us or drop her a DM on Twitter.