The constant roar that you hear in the distance are the voices of many of your colleagues, with the same refrain: “This is all new, and it’s going to be difficult.”
No, we’ve never had such a devastating blow to hit our classrooms and force so many substantive changes.
Because of these incredible changes dealt schools, school leaders must demonstrate the belief and confidence that they can succeed and that their staffs will perform exceptionally well.
Teaching and learning should always be our focus, for that is the core of our DNA.
It is what we do!
So, yes, the focus, even during this pandemic, must continue to be about teaching children, especially our most marginalized children, to read, write, think critically, and make the world better.
However, as important as the aforementioned are, principals must also create, with great intent and purpose, a caring community, that is, a school where adults, students, and families “treat [each other] with [the] love and kindness that all…deserve” (Aguilar, 2016).
Thus, during this pandemic principals and their administrative staff should be forever vigilant of how their staffs are adjusting in this new environment of virtual teaching.
As an aside, we asked teachers, without any warning, to make incredible shifts in their practice. On March 9, for example, your staff would have been using evidence-based classroom practices. But by mid-April, they were told, with little warning, to learn something new, oftentimes without the resources to be successful.
While instructional leadership is important, principals should also make sure that they lessen staff’s frustration, anxiety, stress, and isolation. In a very recent study, Kraft and Simon (2020) note the critical influence that supportive environments have on teachers’ feelings of success.
Their research notes that during the period when schools reopened during the pandemic, supportive conditions were essential in teachers’ feelings of being confident in their successes. Ninety-nine (99) percent of teachers in supportive conditions felt confident before the pandemic; 93 percent felt confident after the reopening of schools.
However, for teachers working in schools that did not provide supportive conditions during that same period, the percent of teachers who felt confident in their successes plummeted by 42 percentage points, from 90 percent to 48 percent (Kraft and Simon, 2020).
Thus, the importance of supporting your staff is crucial: acknowledge their work; provide a clean and safe building; strengthen communication; and reassess professional development plans with a focus on improving virtual teaching.
Lastly, play for the long game. At some point this nightmare will end. When it does, you want to see COVID-19 behind you, make stronger the practices that you discovered along the way, and still be in the company of that hard-working staff, all of whom are still confident, resourceful, intelligent, and committed to doing what is right for children.
Contact us. We can help you support your staff during these challenging times. Let’s talk!!