By Ken DeSieghardt
The last two months or so have given rise to a lot of memes and comments from parents saying, “Teachers ought to be paid $1 million a year. This is hard work!”
While it remains perplexing that anyone would think teaching is an easy career choice, it is comforting to see how parents and others are waking up to the facts about the profession. Yes, it is hard…particularly when a teacher has to create a new approach to curriculum delivery overnight. Talk about building the plane while you’re flying it.
As this school year winds down, administrative teams and School Boards are wrestling with issues regarding the 2020-2021 school year. And they are being asked to do so without knowing yet what their districts will, and will not, be permitted to do in the fall.
While it may seem natural to clam up until you have something definitive to share, that’s the opposite of what you should do as the summer moves forward.
Why? Let’s start with the bombardment of information being disseminated via the media on COVID-19 and its impact on daily life. Ladle in a heavy dose of social media, an always reliable source of information (insert snicker here). Stir in the nation’s high anxiety level on just about everything and it’s a real witches’ brew.
Your stakeholders are hungering for a calm voice in the turmoil. You can be that voice if you:
Bring them along for the ride. Get past the notion that you have to have all the answers when you communicate. Tell your stakeholders what you are working on. Invite input if you wish.
Keep the terms simple. Use words like “traditional in-classroom setting,” “online and other remote learning options,” and “a mixture of classroom and online” as you describe the options you are preparing for. Pick the terms that work best for you; just keep the jargon out.
Don’t forget the details. As we all know, “school” is much more than what happens in the classroom. If you don’t believe me, ask a 2020 graduate who's hurting from the loss of Prom and graduation ceremonies. So, you need to keep stakeholders well-informed about extracurriculars, how snow days will be handled (if you’ve gone virtual before, can you do it when it snows?), food pickup options, etc.
Don’t be afraid to let stakeholders peek behind the curtain. Invite them in, and whatever happens will be easier for them to accept.