What Schools Must Do Now
This pandemic is now about six months long to this point. We finished last school year and got through, we went through the unusual summer, and now we are beginning the 2020-2021 school year in massive uncertainty. Students are confused and they are looking to their parents for support. Teachers and administrators want information and they are looking to districts and their superintendents on how to start the year. Everyone seems to be waiting....
There is one key component that can help students, parents, teachers, and administrators move forward productively. Each one of these groups want one thing - hope. Hope to be able to teach well. Hope to calm the worries of parents and their children. Hope that stability will reign in a key life area where chaos has ruled. The problem is that they all seem to feel as if they are getting misleading or incomplete information and their frustration grows not just because it impacts kids, but because it may be impacting childcare or even their work situation. People want hope because it provides stability and it makes parents, kids, and teachers feel like this key area of school is going to be ok.
With this in mind, the secret to improving the school situation is clear communication. Too many people do not know and frustration is growing because parents have to make decisions about not just where to send their children for school but also work out childcare arrangements and assess their own work opportunities in light of the pandemic. Clear communication is the answer. It's what parents, teachers, students, and so many more are waiting for. Leaders must lead and they must share what they know. We are past the point of planning. Decisions must be made now. Parents need to know how laptops will be given out, how textbooks will be distributed , and how students will get their schedules even though all instruction is virtual (at least in Michigan). People are designed to be relational beings. We need each other and we need information, information from those in charge of our schools.
Let's face it....no one has ever complained that they were over communicated with. No one has said that they were clearly told too much on how to move forward. No employee quit a job because their boss communicated too much on what they needed them to do. We may not have all of the answers on how to best move forward with school, but communicating clear decisions is key to giving hope to parents and their students. There is no way any district can please everyone, but I think if parents and teachers were communicated facts and a clear brief implementation plan void of political and legal jargon that can help countless families get the school year started. I don't know what lies ahead, but I do know that parents, students, and teachers need school district leaders to make clear decisions now and to communicate those decisions clearly. It will give hope to so many and it will allow them to make much needed decisions for their own families. Communication of key decisions by school district leaders
may not solve every problem, but it will calm the worries of many. This we can all agree is critical in these trying times.