How to Strengthen the Education System during COVID-19
It comes down to collective efforts between teachers, parents, and school administrators, but here are the five key areas our founder and CEO Aaron Copeland, believes we need to address immediately.
1.Provide proven tools or training with new educational national requirements.
First, let’s acknowledge it’s been a tough year to be (or, rather, not be) in a classroom. Schools were forced to, overnight, adopt stopgap measures in response to the international crisis.
Rapidly improvised solutions trickled down through the ranks: from national government organizations to state school districts to local school districts to school administrators to parents to teachers and finally, to students.
As any good English teacher would tell us: we lost the narrative in the midst of the crisis.
As a result, we’re seeing teachers who are stretched, stressed and just plain overworked. Their jobs changed overnight, and they were told to simply “make it work.” So, they did.
Let’s be sure this doesn’t happen again. Give your teachers and staff space to have a voice, and share their honest feedback.
Ask them what’s working. What’s not working. How they are. What support they need. Then, see how you can create solutions. And repeat.
Don’t forget, you can tell them what you’re facing too. Showing vulnerability is a strength, and key to building what’s broken to get back on the same page.
2. Include lessons in stress reduction within the education curriculum.
88We’ve always asked teachers to do more with less. Today, we’re asking them to do twice as much, often with no additional emotional or professional support. As a result, teachers still love teaching, but feel teaching now occupies just a small fraction of what they are being asked to do. Just as anyone wants to feel successful in their work, so do teachers.
You can’t possibly eliminate all sources of stress during a pandemic, but you can use breaks that support your wellbeing. These breaks needn’t be long: just enough to acknowledge the time sacrifice your staff is making to accommodate the new workload.
Taking the time to define the environment teachers will be facing as their school begins reopening can also reduce teacher stress. Set up processes and walk teachers through the environment they’ll be facing.
3. Troubleshoot proactively on a local level.
All problems cannot be solved nationally.
Which means, in some cases, we are solving local problems with a national solution. We need to get a better handle of where problems cascade, because how we respond to local customs geographically may have an impact on learning. Perhaps our federal leaders should establish broad regulations, but also provide consultation support to states and school districts.
In addition, embrace the idea that problems are sometimes perceived. Maybe social media makes all problems appear local. Using media, traditional or not, provide a framework for perceiving, understanding, and addressing the many problems the educational system has right in your backyard. Often, problems are a result of not being able to imagine a solution.
4. Acknowledge the challenges faced by parents and determine the effects on national policy.
While parents have always fulfilled a uniquely qualified role on the student’s educational team, this year they were asked to provide, at minimum, their child’s classroom setting, and at most, assistance to teachers by providing structure and reinforcing discipline.
As school moves increasingly away from the kitchen table and back to the classrooms, take this opportunity to engage parents and reiterate the important role they continue to play in their child’s education. While home education was an enormous burden to some, all parents learned a great deal more about their child’s learning style and what worked and did not. This knowledge, though hard-won, can be uniquely useful moving forward.
5. Learn the lessons from other industries.
Other industries experienced and survived major disruption from the pandemic as well. Can educational leaders tap into other disciplines to learn their best practices from addressing a crisis? Absolutely. Crossing industries to come up with problem-solving ideas is a great way to proactively meet change and learn how to pivot.
The pandemic was a major disruptive event in education, and we’ll be processing the lessons of its impact for years. As we emerge from the crisis, educators have more experience and response time to navigate change. If we are to have any chance conquering the challenges ahead, educators will use this time to listen and learn from its stakeholders. This approach to managing change allows us to act instead of reacting.
We’re still in this, and we’re in it together. The more empathy we can lead with, the better leaders we will be.
Ready for more insight? Read on at Authority Magazine here.