by Ken DeSieghardt
In the midst of the pandemonium caused by the pandemic (see what I did there?) succumbing to an “oh, woe is me” attitude can be very easy for school district leaders.
After all, you are the ones who spent your summers creating learning models that sought to maintain the quality of education while allowing everyone to do so from a safe distance – oftentimes over the now all-too-familiar Zoom platform.
You also enforce the mask mandates that keep interaction safer during these uncertain times — but that nobody likes. You shift your approaches to dispensing meals, sometimes on a daily or weekly basis. And, let's not forget, you deal with parents and others who say, among other things, “This is America. Kids need to be in school!
Not exactly the reasons you chose education as a career, I would imagine. Yet, from what I have observed from working with school districts over the last six months or so, you are handling the challenges like a champion. For that, you should be celebrated. Instead, you are often dealing with the second-guessers in your world who opine freely about what the school district should do.
You know what drives these nattering nabobs? Grief over the loss of control.
Considering how everything that happens as we putter along in our daily lives bears little to no resemble to the same activities in, say, March of this year, we’ve all been thrown into a tailspin.
However, if you can bite your tongue a little bit and practice the following, you will, at worst, keep good relationships, and, perhaps, build ones that are stronger than before.
Say “Thank you.” A lot. Appreciation for each other has slipped during this upsetting time. You can set a new Gold Standard by doling out the “Thank yous” often – even when it’s you who should be thanked for a good deed.
Listen and acknowledge. Thanking people for their input is a way of affirming that individuals matter, without promising anything tangible. You remain in charge, while the other person feels good about the encounter.
Overcommunicate. Patron Insight tells school districts, “If you ever think you have communicated something often enough, the answer is always, ‘No, you will never reach that finish line.’ ” Now, more than ever, keep pounding the pavement to get the news out.