COVID has changed so much in the face of education. The majority of teachers and students are participating in digital instruction for the first time. While there are best practices already established, many weren’t gifted the time to research those before needing to craft a plan for learning. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “building the airplane as we fly”. A colleague of mine reframed that to, “making the parachute while we freefall.” That might be a more accurate description of how many educators are feeling right now. I do believe there are two things that will make this transition smoother for every stakeholder. These are grace and transparency. Transparency is more than just a buzzword or the name of an ancient instructional tool (Vis a Vis markers anyone?). Teachers have long been encouraged to be more transparent in their teaching/learning goals for the day by telling the students what the learning objective is, and even posting the related standards. They are supposed to send home regular newsletters, update class websites, and hold parent/teacher conferences. Principals can show up to do walk-throughs or longer observations at any time. Throw in regular teacher-teacher collaboration at PLCs, and transparency for teachers is almost a moot subject.
Sometimes I think administrators don’t have to adhere to the same levels of transparency that teachers do. Administrators can be transparent by creating authentic relationships with all stakeholders. If they are good leaders they will include teachers and support staff in their ideas, planning, and vision for the school/district during this time of so many uncertainties. Be sure to share triumphs, as well as challenges. School and district leaders need to be accessible to the public, as well, and openly communicate (which involves listening and speaking) goals, plans and progress.
In addition to making sure we are more transparent than ever, we need to add grace to the top of the list of daily mindsets. Now isn’t the time to increase academic rigor. Now isn’t the time to be sticklers on grading procedures. We need to make an intentional habit of assuming good intentions and giving grace when things don’t go as planned. That means for yourself, your students, your staff, and your administrators. Both of my own children have accidentally submitted an assignment via the wrong the link. Thankfully, their teachers understood and helped them to correct that issue. How are ways you can extend grace to those around you (including yourself)? Now is the time to be more compassionate and understanding than ever before.
We need to both grace and transparency to build trust, to foster those learning partnerships, and to nurture innovation and best practices. This could be a time of extreme growth when it comes to how we interact as learners.