#1: Vision, Mission, Values & Strategy
With School Plans in Flux, Here Are 3 Leadership Strategies to Prioritize-and 2 to Avoid
After spending the last six months helping school leaders around the country design and implement their reopening plans, Romain Bertrand, writing for EdSurge, says, "we should seize the moment to toss the old playbook". Bertrand recommends prioritizing creating a unifying vision and leading with empathy while building bridges toward better experiences. He advises against over-scheduling and suggests reconsidering how we measure students' progress and wellbeing right now.
Also worth a read: Emergency Backpacks, Outdoor Classes and Other Strategies for a Successful School Reopening
#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments
School Counselors and COVID-19
This Usable Knowledge article looks at a new report that offers insight into the pandemic experiences of school counsellors and elaborates on a series of recommendations for maintaining a commitment to student wellness and postsecondary readiness, including:
Articulate a vision for counselling and define expectations with input from the counselling staff.
Be intentional about scheduling. Prioritize the counsellor's time with students and take flexible and creative approaches as needed.
Ensure counsellors have access to resources and supports to adapt to supporting students in this new environment.
Also worth a read: Strong relationships help kids catch up after 6 months of COVID-19 school closure
#3: Academic Program
Fostering Civil Discourse in a Time of Polarity
Lisa Kay Solomon is an author, educator, and designer in residence at the Stanford d.school and the co-author of Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change
. In this NAIS blog post, she writes about Vote by Design, a non-partisan learning experience designed to promote civic engagement and agency among all voters, created in 2019 at the Stanford d.school.
The Value of a Camera-Optional Policy
While educator Alex Shevrin Venet acknowledges there are many arguments for establishing a camera-on policy, she believes that allowing students to choose whether to turn their camera on for online classes enables them to take ownership of their learning. In this Edutopia article, Venet writes, "Framing the camera question as being about rules and policies can pull our focus away from a more important question. Instead of asking, "Should I require my students' cameras to be on?" we should ask, "How do I create a learning space where students feel safe and comfortable turning their cameras on, where students want to see and be seen?"
#4: School Leadership
7 Strategies for Better Group Decision-Making
The authors of this Harvard Business Review article stress that "Larger pools of knowledge are by no means a guarantee of better outcomes. Because of an over-reliance on hierarchy, an instinct to prevent dissent, and a desire to preserve harmony, many groups fall into groupthink
." To make effective decisions together, they recommend seven simple strategies that are based on behavioural and decision science research and years of application experience:
- Keep the group small when you need to make an important decision.
- Choose a heterogenous group over a homogenous one (most of the time).
- Appoint a strategic dissenter (or even two).
- Collect opinions independently.
- Provide a safe space to speak up.
- Don't over-rely on experts.
- Share collective responsibility.
Also worth a read: 3 Ways to Motivate Your Team Through an Extended Crisis
#5: Human Resources
The boss factor: Making the world a better place through workplace relationships
According to the authors of this McKinsey article, improving workers' job satisfaction could be the most critical thing that a business does. They cite research that shows this "servant leader" mentality and disposition enhances both team performance and satisfaction, and recommend that organizations carefully consider the following four ingredients to create an environment that enables good management and good relationships more generally:
- Understanding and conviction, conveyed through a compelling change story that solicits better behaviour from bosses and supervisors.
- Role modelling that demonstrates a leader's personal belief and commitment to employee well-being.
- Skill- and confidence-building approaches to help managers create better employee experiences.
- Formal mechanisms that reinforce the right behaviours.
#6: School & Community
How "empathy interviews" help us cope with COVID
This District Administration article looks at how some administrators are having their staff conduct regular "empathy interviews" with students and their families to determine who is dealing with health problems, financial strains, or other difficulties. Christina Cipriano, who has studied the pandemic's social-emotional impact on educators as the director of research at Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, says this approach takes the pressure off of classroom teachers and gives all members of a school's staff a role in decision-making.
#7: Enrolment Management
High schools pivot to virtual open houses as COVID-19 cases increase
As cases of COVID-19 increase across Quebec, the Montreal Gazette looks at how public and private schools are pivoting to virtual open houses. Some schools are planning to livestream their open houses, providing families with the opportunity to ask questions in real time. Others have students give tours while recounting their experience at the school. According to the article, almost all schools have done away with entrance exams this year because it is unsafe to have students crowded into gymnasiums to write them.
School Governance in the Age of Covid-19: How Effective Boards Ensure School Survival and Continued Success
Currently a consultant, Ray Davis has been a Head of School in three international schools and a national school in the UK and is the former Director of School Evaluation with the Council of International Schools (CIS). Writing for the Educational Collaborative for International Schools blog, Davis recommends a list of features that Boards will need to implement in order to emerge in good shape from the pandemic and a comprehensive list of questions that Boards should consider as schools re-open.
Canadian universities accelerate collective climate action
This University Affairs article looks at several ways that universities are ramping up cross-sectoral efforts against climate change, including, increasingly, how they manage their financial investments. One initiative is Investing to Address Climate Change: A Charter for Canadian Universities
, signed in June by 15 Canadian universities, "which builds on a growing recognition within the financial services sector that climate change poses not only environmental risks but investment risks."
#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety
COVID-19 in schools: The runny-nose dilemma that has authorities stumped
This Maclean's article includes general provincial requirements for schools as they reopen, taken from advice on government websites and press releases. Since the rules of each province (and health region) vary, in some areas, a runny nose could necessitate getting a negative COVID-19 test before a child can return to class. The article lists some websites that track school outbreaks and includes charts reflecting overall trends of how many young people are being infected with COVID-19.
COVID-19 Safety Guidelines for Specific School Spaces
The Yale School of Public Health offers detailed guidance on how to implement safety measures within different school areas (e.g. classrooms, gyms, cafeterias, playgrounds).
#11: Commitment to School Improvement
In this Getting Smart article, education expert Tom Vander Ark writes, "While access to quality education remains vital, this year-with the collision of a pandemic, racial injustice, and climate crisis-made clear that we don't just need to upskill, we need a new set of agreements about how we get along and how we share the challenges and opportunities of our time." Vander Ark outlines 15 great invention opportunities to address roadblocks for meaningful learning. The first third is socio-political, the second third is the building blocks of learning design, and the last third is technology tools.
#12: Boarding Program
Students Face A Campus Christmas To Limit Coronavirus Spread
In an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19, England's Health Secretary has warned that students in England could be confined to campus for Christmas, according to this Forbes article. Glasgow University has asked 600 students to self-isolate in their rooms to prevent the spread of the virus and warned that students who put others at risk faced disciplinary action, including termination of their accommodation contracts and suspension.