The Certainty of Change
It's ironic that the first post in "The Principal's Playbook" blog is titled "Without a Playbook." Over the past several months, we've faced challenges and adversity that we never imagined or fathomed would bring much of our educational world to an abrupt halt or at least a sputtering pace. Educators don't have a playbook or game plan prepared in advance for this type of situation. However, we have a wonderful opportunity to add a new chapter to our playbooks and a new wealth of knowledge and experience to our repertoire. Even without a playbook or game plan, it was amazing to see the collective work of our dedicated team come together for our children. Within hours of schools shutting down we had a plan in place to make sure meals started immediately to ensure our students' basic needs were met, our instructional teams designed and implemented learning packets and eLearning resources within days to ensure the continuity of instruction, we found ways to provide wifi and broadband access to the most remote and rural areas of the school district, we ran buses to drop off food and learning packets/resources to students that didn't have transportation to pick them up from school, we found ways to communicate with our students to make sure they were safe and to provide support for the continuity of instruction. In the middle of all this, we also found an appreciation for the blessing we have as educators to help children and serve our community, a sense of gratitude from our community and parents for all that teachers and staff do for children, and a very real sense of collective efficacy as a educational community to find a way to be successful for our children. In some of the eLearning sessions we did through Facebook Live, you could see a renewed sense of passion for helping children and an appreciation for each other when teachers and students communicated live online Teachers looked forward to seeing their students and were emotional in being able to communicate with them and it reminded us "why" we all chose to be educators. We also saw students that were more excited to see their teachers online through Zoom meetings than any day they were physically present at school and were extremely grateful for their teachers trying so hard for them during this time. This goes back to one of the most foundational beliefs that "You have to touch a heart before you can ever touch a mind" and "Children don't care how much you know until they know how much you care!"
Most people say these are unprecedented times and unchartered waters in education. However, educators have been working with change and overcoming obstacles to reach and teach children since the inception of the profession. While there are many factors that we aren't able to control and don't have all the answers to, our focus has been on the things within our locust of control. Our mindset during times like these are critical to success. The great thing is that we have the choice in how we think, what we communicate, and our actions during this time. This might actually be an opportunity to reinvent the way we facilitate instruction, a period of time available for planning for instruction that we've always dreamed of and a luxury we've never had before, and a revelation about our true character and dedication to the work in the profession that trains all other professions. Thoughts become words and words become actions. What are you thoughts about the pandemic, obstacle or opportunity? Are we prioritizing the use of time and using it purposefully to reflect on our curricular alignment and instructional practices? Are we willing to think differently and adapt our instructional practices? Are we using this time to prepare for one of the greatest success stories in the history of education? Do we truly believe that we, as a team, will find a way to be successful for our children?
One thing certain about the pandemic and it's effect on education going forward is uncertainty. We don't fully know when or how we will open schools in the fall, the limitations and restrictions we may face, the comprehensive myriad of safety precautions that need to be taken to protect our students and staff, the logistics operationally or instructionally that must change to meet each child's needs, new or adjusted instructional formats including the level of depth with remote or eLearning, fears from both staff and students returning to school, how arts and athletics will be able to operate, etc. One certainty that has held the true test of time is the resolve and dedication of principals, teachers, staff, and district office personnel to ensure our children are safe, they learn at a high level and grow exponentially, and the well-being of the whole child is paramount to our practice. Like a great coach, we will plan and prepare for every possible scenario we might face this fall but we will also adjust our game plan as needed to put our team in the best possible situation to be successful given the variables we will face. One commitment remains certain above all: Our community, parents, and students can count on our team to collectively do whatever it takes for our children!