For eight weeks, Catholic School Matters focused on the pandemic and I included blogs and links to help school leaders. Here’s a compilation:
- May 24th: “Value Proposition for Catholic Schools During Uncertain Times”: The twin uncertainties of the pandemic and the economic downturn have challenged our Catholic school leaders to articulate the value proposition of their schools. Without well-known national values for Catholic schools and with the economic downturn forcing many families to question whether they can afford Catholic school tuition, these leaders are looking for the right language and messaging while, ironically, many of their schools have proven quite successful at pivoting their programs to online. That message hasn’t taken root, however, and instead we’re finding parents questioning that if remote learning is to continue, is it even worth the tuition cost? Read more here
- May 17th: “Tell Your Story”:When people look back on this spring, what will they say about your school? Will they say you innovated? Kept learning? Persisted? Failed? It’s not too late to start shaping your story. Take a look at the Partnership Schools blog. They made a conscientious decision to start pushing out their story consistently every day once the pandemic hit. You’ll see thought pieces, features on outstanding students and teachers, and testimonials. Read more here
- May 10th: “Remote and Catholic”: The debate is heating up around whether children can suffer from or transmit the virus and what role that plays in the decision whether (and how) to reopen schools. Teachers—especially those in high risk groups—are wondering whether they will even go back to teaching. More on this developing issue here. In Denmark, they have reopened early childhood grades because of the belief that children are not vectors; in Germany they have only re-opened upper grades because they believe older students will abide by social distancing and hygiene guidelines. What is becoming clear in Montana, however, is that planning for remote learning is unpopular among parents, teachers, and board members alike. A widespread sentiment is that parents will not reenroll or pay tuition if learning is remote. Read more here.
- May 3rd: “Safety & Normalcy”: There certainly is a wealth of speculation about what we can expect when we reopen our schools this fall. It’s worth taking some time to consider the different scenarios and considering how we can meet the needs of our parents. Specifically, it seems most parents want safety and normalcy. What if we can provide exactly that through our planning? Read more here
- April 26th: “Simultaneous Planning”: Last week Governor Bullock announced that Montana schools could reopen beginning on May 7th as long as they implement social distancing and other safety measures. It became immediately apparent that we were not prepared to deal with all the variables: teachers who didn’t want to return, parents who didn’t want their children to return, masks for everyone, cleaning protocols, school days organized by shifts/cohorts, limiting recess and large groups. I came across this article in Education Week which suggested that every school begin pulling together a working group now to plan for fall. Read more here.
- April 19th: “Trauma & Faith”: I came across an insightful definition of trauma from therapist Lisa Olivera: “too much, too fast.” From Shawn Peck, an assistant principal in Minnesota, “It’s not the hard work or long days that’s wearing on me. It’s the constant feeling that I’m not doing enough.” Though I’ve never thought of myself as traumatized, I’m feeling the effects of too much, too fast and I’m seeing it all around me. And I think that the younger your children at home, the more stress you are feeling. The loneliness, break in routines, and uncertainty has significant effects on young children. If you have young kids, be patient with yourself. And all of us can be a little more forgiving and more kind to those with young children at home. This great article from Mind/Shift helped me wrap my head around Trauma-Informed Instruction in a Remote Learning Environment. “It’s not a label but a lens” was my takeaway. Read more here
- April 13th: “A Roach Map for the Next 6 Weeks”: Last week, I wrote about the next eight months and what school might look like this fall. There’s no question we must prepare a hybrid model that we can switch from home-based to school-based on a moment’s notice. This shift will take preparation and intensive professional development (done remotely, of course!) over this summer. We must also acknowledge that our people are exhausted and our remote learning needs to be improved. We are struggling with access, motivation, and techniques. All of these things can be improved if we take some time to regroup and plan together. Read more here.
- April 5th: “What Does the Future Hold?”: We’ve all been improvising our leadership these days. We’ve been called up on stage, thrown a scenario, and asked to respond quickly. Our lives have turned upside down and we’ve had to make up new rules, expectations, and routines. Our teachers have created a new way of delivering instruction and connecting with students while managing their own newly chaotic homes. Our school leaders have been trying to manage a virtual school environment, making sure that every student is challenged and cared for while becoming conversant in cash flow projections, new HR laws, SBA loans, and many, many more. The level of anxiety and stress is palpable. In a crisis such as this one, our day-to-day needs can take precedence and we can spend our time only reacting to questions and simply putting out fires. Read more here