1. This pandemic has underscored an important truth that many educators have always known: we need each other. Nothing can replace human connection. Nothing can replace personal interactions. Nothing can replace relationships. Teachers do care about their students, and they understand that connecting with students is more important than ever. But they cannot carry the weight of the responsibility for the social and emotional health of all their kids. That’s too much to bear. It takes a village.
2. As many parents have found themselves trying to help their own kids who have had to do some learning at home, they have been reminded that teaching is not easy. It's a skill... and it requires a great deal of patience.
3. We ask our students to be life-long learners. Well… as educators are confronted with the reality of adapting to radically different instructional models… this is the perfect opportunity for us to practice what we preach and model for our students a little bit of “life-long learning.”
4. The realities of COVID and virtual instruction have underscored the need to provide equitable learning experiences for every student. Not all students have access to technology and WiFi. And not all students have parents who have the time and ability to help with school work at home. As educators, we have to be mindful of that reality and we must work to close the opportunity gaps.
5. It’s easier to throw stones than it is to make tough decisions. And sometimes, being a leader involves coming to terms with the fact that any decision you make will be the “wrong” one to a whole lot of people.
6. Patience… flexibility… support… and grace. If this is not what we’re bringing to the table right now, then we’re bringing the wrong stuff. And your colleagues need to know that they are not alone. No one should struggle in isolation. And you can still build a positive culture in the face of adversity. This is the magic of camaraderie. It is the beauty of knowing that we’re all doing this together. And we’re not alone.
7. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs applies to educators now more than ever. Leaders need to remember that when they’re talking about culture, mission, and all that stuff at the top of the pyramid… they have staff members who are worried about safety, security, and all that stuff at the bottom of the pyramid. Sometimes, teachers don’t need their administrators to inspire them, motivate them, or even lead them. Sometimes, what teachers need... is for their administrators to listen to them, understand them, and validate their experiences.
8. Leaders need to acknowledge the challenges and trauma that are confronting those they are leading. They need to be willing to listen to bad news. They need to be willing to hear uncomfortable truths. And they need to create a culture in the organization where everyone feels ok speaking up; they need to ensure they are creating safe spaces for candid communication.
9. Educators are confronted with two moral imperatives that are sometimes in conflict: First, we need to provide the best possible education for every student. Second, we need to ensure that all of our students and colleagues are safe. Most students learn best when they are in school, so we need to have them there when it is safe to do so.
10. Students are resilient. Teachers are resilient. They both have challenges... and they both need continued support and encouragement. Hope abides.