I’ve been in education for a long time, and what I’ve always loved about my profession is that no two years, schools, or districts are the same. I think it’s safe to say that this year was no exception! As an executive director in a large urban school district, I coach and support K–12 principals as they strive for excellence and equity in their school buildings. The rapid move to remote learning made me feel like I was suddenly a coach holding the playbook for the wrong sport. As weeks of remote learning turned into months, I came to understand that what seemed initially like a whole new game is really the same game, reimagined.
From a district lens, the importance of high support, easy access to resources, and clear, timely communication was illuminated. From a principal’s lens, the need to develop structures, systems, and processes for high collaboration, coaching support, effective action planning, reflection, and collective efficacy all became essential to the survival of each school’s culture and identity. From the student lens, strong relationships with caring adults and engaging lessons with personal feedback became essential for continuity in learning in a remote setting.
As I begin to envision K–12 education moving forward, I feel certain all edu leaders will be spending time collectively answering these five critical questions:
- What do we do about the COVID slide?
- How do we build engaging lessons for all learners?
- How do we preserve and nurture school culture?
- What are the critical factors in creating communication systems that meet key stakeholders’ needs?
- How can school leaders build and sustain teacher efficacy through collaboration and coaching?
As I work with my faculty to answer these questions in our district, I have found these considerations useful to our planning process:
- Consistency supports equity
Acknowledging that we may move between in-person and remote learning with little notice throughout next year, it is important to ensure you have an LMS in place that can facilitate learning objectives in all scenarios.
- Connection drives culture
Leaders must continue finding creative ways to celebrate and acknowledge teachers who go above and beyond to support others, take risks, seek novel solutions to problems, and share best practices. Teachers must find ways to connect with students by providing them with personalized feedback and celebrating their successes. School culture can prevail even when the classroom is closed; we just have to be creative.
- Collective efficacy requires collaboration
Creating space for collaborative teaming structures to promote the sharing of great resources, teaching practices, and analysis of student learning is essential. As leaders, we have to be willing to invest in the professional development of our teachers and build collaborative structures that can support their practice—both in person and online.
If you're ready to discuss these critical questions further as you prepare for the upcoming school year, attend my virtual professional development session: “Build an Effective Instructional Continuity Plan.”
As part of a four-part series, my session will allow you to work collaboratively with other leaders around the world to build an instructional continuity plan that addresses the needs of both teachers and students—a plan that prepares you to pair the right technologies with the proper professional development to support the continuance of learning. We’ll talk about how to anticipate the challenges that lie ahead and respond decisively for the betterment of your school or district.
I believe no one needs to write the next playbook alone. As we continue to rethink education, let’s work together to bring lasting, equitable change.
For more information, and to register for the session, visit the link below.