Positive Take-Aways from the Pandemic

Brenda Hamm | March 14, 2023

I remember the 2016 election as a middle school division director at the time. Emotions had been running high in the leadup to what many were imagining would be an historical moment, anticipating the first woman was about to be elected as President of the United States. Our administrative team discussed how we would support the kids who supported then candidate Trump who, because of available polling information, we assumed would lose the election. The next morning we were faced with the challenge of our plan being completely upended. President Trump’s victory meant a significant majority of faculty and a small majority of kids were not just disappointed at the outcome, they were devastated by it. Meanwhile, the Trump supporters among the students felt vindicated and empowered to vocalize their unfiltered joy. What 24 hours earlier seemed like a solid path through the day quickly became a scramble that included everything from an impromptu community assembly about democracy and civil discourse to therapy dogs in the common room. It was a huge pivot and we were off to the races.

While community upset over election results may have been an ordeal at the time it pales compared to working in schools during a pandemic! Covid-19 forced school leaders and faculty to constantly face potentially life-threatening unknowns, conflicting governmental guidance, competing needs of constituents, and emotional reactions that included real, and warranted, fear and exhaustion. In spite of all of that, schools provided education, support, and information to their students and families, and set their course through the storm called Covid-19. Today as school leaders continue to navigate the return to on-campus teaching and learning in an endemic state of the virus there is an opportunity to consider how our thinking has changed because of the pandemic in, possibly, very good ways.
So, instead of simply breathing a sigh of relief and packing it all away, keep it fresh and use it to enhance the future performance of your school and administrative teams. To help you with that, here are 10 questions from the specific to the big picture, to, hopefully, get the creative thinking or discussion flowing for you, your administrative team, and maybe even your board of trustees.

1) What aspects of your mission, organization, and personnel did you most rely on to get the job done during the pandemic? Would you rely on them just the same in the future or do they need tweaking?

2) Communication. Have you developed new paths or vehicles for nimble, transparent, helpful communication?
3) Do you hire differently now, looking for qualities (like creative problem solving and flexibility) that you didn’t emphasize in the hiring process pre-pandemic?
4) Where does adaptability and flexibility fit into your administrative team discussions?

5) Has Covid added additional dimensions to your risk management processes? Regardless of how unlikely they are, how do you plan for the “what ifs?”

6) Arguably, teachers bore the brunt of the impact of Covid on schools. How are your teachers doing now? Have you debriefed with them to hear what they have to say about being and feeling supported or not, having the resources they needed or not?
7) What new or different vehicles for faculty input do you have in place now?

8) Has your school debriefed its Covid response particularly as it affected marginalized groups in your community?

9) Strategic planning. Is a 5 year view useful anymore or should you be thinking more short term by assessing goals and directions in an ongoing way?

10) What does the world need in the future and how is your school connected to that future? Is this the time to take stock of your curriculum? Are your students prepared for and enticed by the challenges of the future?

What are we missing? What do you think? 
There are so many possible questions to consider, many that you and your teams may have already asked and answered that aren’t listed here. To that end, if you have a question you are considering that was not part of your thinking pre-pandemic please share it with us by emailing here. We’d love to hear from you!

Interested in learning more about how we can help?