COVID-19

Denial, Anger, Acceptance: The COVID-19 Grieving Process

As we have transitioned into new territory, I’ve found that many of us seem to be undergoing a process of grief. Initially, I of course was in denial, just as many of my staff and students were. I wanted to be at school as long as I was able to, I wanted to see the staff coming in as they came to gather their things from their classrooms; I wanted connection. I honestly thought we would get through this situation expeditiously, and our working from home routine would only be temporary. (more…)

Engaging Families in Remote Learning

Throughout my #remotelearning series, I have tried to provide practical ideas and strategies that can be used now. One aspect that needs more attention, at least in my opinion, is how we can assist parents throughout this ordeal. It goes without saying that many of them are dealing with some intense challenges such as equitable access to technology, WiFi availability, finding time to assist their kids with schoolwork, and a general sense of not knowing what to do in a remote learning world. Combine this with the added responsibility of working from home themselves, dealing with impending or current unemployment, the stress of not being able to see older relatives, and being a parent, and you can assume that tensions are running high. They need our support and understanding just as much as our learners do. Together we are better, especially in times of crisis. (more…)

Communication During COVID-19

In March 2020, students and educators walked out the doors on a sunny Friday afternoon, waving to one another because spring break had officially begun. Little did any of us know that spring break 2020 would turn into COVID break 2020. Projects were completed, more books were read, but then reality came knocking, and we as educators found ourselves back at work and communicating with students—and each other—in new ways. (more…)

Moving Counseling Online During COVID-19

If we revisit Harry Wong’s The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher, we know that we can’t access Bloom’s taxonomy until we address Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. During this time of considerable uncertainty, it is increasingly important to consider mental health and wellness as a need we must address before we can get to the higher-order thinking skills associated with great instruction and learning. To that end, our school system quickly made plans to take school counseling online during this challenging time. (more…)

One Step in Front of the Other: Navigating Self-Care in Uncertain Times

How are you? No, really. If you are an educator today, your life has completely turned upside down in a matter of weeks. Just a few weeks ago, most of us were getting ready (or returning) from a spring break, some of us were planning activities for St. Patrick’s Day, while others were grading projects for the end of the quarter. (more…)

When School Buildings Are Closed: The First Few Weeks

On Tuesday, March 10, I was meeting with my instructional leadership team after school for our regular monthly meeting when I was alerted that an email just came in from our superintendent about COVID-19. Effective immediately, all after-school activities, assemblies, and events were cancelled. School would continue during the day as normal, but no guests would be allowed on campus. The email was sent to the entire district: staff, students, and parents. There was no warning, no call to the principals to prepare us. This was a sudden mandate we needed to respond to. (more…)

Advisories and Crisis: Taking Care of the Kids

There’s a lot to write about everything going on right now, but I’m going to start with talking about how the structures we have in place are the best things we have to lean on when crisis hits. (more…)

A Fish Out of Water, Just Learning How to Breathe Again

Does anyone else feel like a fish out of water right now, just trying to learn how to breathe again? I have felt this way for the last two weeks. As a high school principal for nearly 15 years, I thought at this point in my career I had seen it all, but then COVID-19 introduced me to the terms “social distancing” and “remote learning.” Almost overnight, what I knew about being an effective school leader changed drastically, as I am sure it has for you. We all have been thrust “out of our pond” and into a world of uncertainty, but one in which our schools need our courage, creativity, and leadership more than ever before. We have to find a way to learn how to breathe again. (more…)

Planning the Way Forward: Focus on Students and Staff

COVID-19 has thrown many schools and educational leaders for a loop. One thing that has become apparent in school districts around the country is the importance of sound and thoughtful leaders, who have surrounded themselves with great people. I know at Mason City Schools, led by Superintendent Jonathan Cooper and our district executive team, we have recently seen this come to life. (more…)

The School Leader as Connector in Chief During #COVID19

Never in a million years did I think I would be writing a blog post on how school and district leaders are supporting stakeholder efforts while locked down in their homes due to a worldwide pandemic. But here we are, looking COVID-19 square in the face as it impacts our students, staff, and parents in ways once thought unimaginable. These are challenging times. And yet, challenging times present opportunities for school and district leaders to lead in unconventional ways—such as from a dining room table or living room couch. (more…)