You don’t know everything about the conditions of your reopening of school, but you know that it will be different.
As you plan for a new school year, it’s natural to have a yearning for the way things were, before the quarantine. Most school leaders would like to find a way to return to the comfortable, familiar ways in which schools operated before we stopped in-person school in mid March.
Of all the scenarios for the beginning of next school year, a return to the way things were on March 11 seems the most unlikely. So how will things be? What can you do about them now?
Right now, we lack all of the information to enable us to plan with certainty; in that, we can be certain. As a school leader, rather than be paralyzed by what you don’t know, what if you took another route? Instead, what if you become energized by the possibilities? How can you do more than just return; how might you lead a reset that changes your school for the better?
In the future, what can we do differently now that we’ve done most everything differently already? If you were ever hoping for a window of opportunity to bring about change, this will be it. The truth is, we have lots of things that we have been doing because… we’ve always done them that way.
Guess what? Not anymore. We have done nearly everything in a different way over the past two months. Some things we will want to return to, but others? Maybe not.
Now is a REALLY good time for you to engage your people in conversations about what those things are. Talk with your administrative team; have small group sessions with your teachers; and (in an age-appropriate fashion) brainstorm with students. Ask your parents what they think has worked better in these days. Get input. Gather ideas. Pose the question, “when we return to school-at-school, what should be different than before?”
If you can ask these questions with the mindset of a researcher, eager to discover the truth, you’ll get meaningful data that can help you make good decisions. Be humble, be courageous, ask what others think.