This post originally ran in the Catholic School Matters March 29, 2020

We are all sad for what we’ve lost.  The present can seem downright depressing and the immediate future looks even less promising.  Read the HBR article entitled “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief” which addresses the emotional experience of change in times such as these.  While it might be easier to think only students are losing out on many spring rituals, most of us have been living disrupted lives and grief can surface there, too.

We’ve all been trying to provide the best environment for our employees and the most valuable experience for our students.  Chris Lehmann, a principal from Philly, offers a great reflection “Doing School in the Time of Coronavirus.”  It might be the best thing I’ve read this week.  Close behind is Deborah Cohan’s “What Do We Need to Teach Now?” in Inside Higher Ed.  It’s a great look at one professor’s struggle to figure out the technology, connect with her students, and figure out what’s essential.

We need to stop and consider the concept of overwhelm.  “How not to overwhelm your school” from ASCD is a reminder that you can’t do everything.  And yes, I realize the irony that this is coming from the guy who presents 50 links at a time!  Our faculty, staff, students, and parents are already close to the breaking point with anxiety and stress.

Decision fatigue is a factor.  Our lives have become so disrupted that we are now forced to make so many decisions that overwhelm is a factor in our daily, family, as well as professional lives.  This great blog post about “Decision Fatigue” from the Cult of Pedagogy folks is a classic.

I worry about our people.  The level of anxiety and stress is high and that’s before we even consider the disruption of our school lives.  We are worried about our health, our loved ones, the future.  When we try to re-create school digitally, it can overload our students, parents, and teachers.  On top of that, we have a disruption in our social supports.  Think for a minute of a student who loses a parent due to COVID-19.  They might have been separated from them at the time of death.  None of his/her friends can join him/her during this time of need.  There will not be a funeral for a while and even the committal ceremony is private.  The family might be separated by quarantine.  Read this article from The Atlantic about a social recession which offers 4 tips that you can implement now.  The “social recession” threatens to be even more damaging than the economic one.  Another article to consider is from EdSurge: “The Case for Shutting Down Schools.”  I’m not advocating for this course of action but the ideas are thought-provoking.  What are we prioritizing?

We need to carve out a little time to think strategically.  We always need to do this!  I’ve been asking “How do we want our schools to look differently after this crisis?”  It’s a great question because it assumes that we’re not just doing this to survive but we’re experimenting and innovating and the best parts will be integrated.  So what are your best parts?  Here’s a great article to get you thinking about the big picture by conducting a “premortem” of the crisis.

Three other articles really jumped out at me this week: