The “Best Of” 20-21

 In Administrator Resources, Advocacy, Climate, Districts, Leadership Development, Principal Programs, School Leader Paradigm

Written by Aimee Lunsford, incoming IASP President

This year has certainly been one for the record books but isn’t it true that we don’t know how strong we really are until we are faced with adversity to overcome? Here’s my tribute to the great things that came out of 20-21. Covid has nothing on us! 

10. District wide teamwork-  We often have to rally together as an elementary team but in organizing all things Covid, it took all hands on deck and our district couldn’t have proven to be stronger. The whole troop was all in and our community saw the school, health department and county health officials as a united front. 

9. Magnificent Math Skills – Whether it was measuring 6 feet of distance, 15 seconds of close contact or 14 days for contact tracing, our math skills certainly got a workout and we proved that we are number savvy. What seemed so overwhelming in the beginning became “old hat” very fast! 

8. First Things First – In a year that SEL became imperative, we really took the time to focus on the ways that we support our students and staff in regard to social-emotional needs. Our implementation of Sources of Strength and Kimochis proved successful in helping our students learn strong coping skills and working through the book Onward helped us map out a stronger plan for how we support our team every year, not just in a pandemic! 

7. Virtual Conference – This should make all of our top ten lists! In November we were able to pull off a virtual conference that rivaled the same support we give to our principals in person. The highlight for me was the affirmation and new ideas I got for leadership from Jon Gordon in his book, The Power of Positive Leadership. 

6. Meeting Family Needs Better – One thing I hope we continue to carry out post Covid is the element of virtual case conferences. Our participation rate from families skyrocketed as logging onto the computer or connecting via phone was much simpler for families than taking time away from home or work to sit in on the case conference. We managed to still have meaningful conversations to support students without having to be around a literal table. 

5. Finding Normal in the Midst of Chaos– In order to stay face to face for 180 days in the middle of a global pandemic, we had to look for ways to keep things “normal.” Our kids, our staff and our families needed this to help them cope. We looked for ways to normalize parent teacher conferences, awards programs, classroom parties and group projects and still abide by C-19 protocols. We proved that we are critical thinkers, problem solvers and that even when things seem so out of sorts, there really was a lot that we were able to continue with just a few tweaks. 

4. Tech Wizardry– The technology genius that came out of our reliance on the virtual realm to deliver content and reach those at home during quarantine was nothing short of amazing! We learned how to implement the 4 C’s of technology in ways we never dreamed of before. Collaboration took place via breakout rooms in Google Meet and comment features in Google Docs. Communication took place via email, discussion boards and social media videos to stay current and connected with our staff, students and families. Critical Thinking was put on display as students used programs like Google Slides, iMovie and FlipGrid to show their learning and thinking and Creativity was the name of the game as teachers used Google Classroom, SeeSaw and Canvas to keep students engaged and excited about learning via screen. 

3. Closing the Gap – Our focus and reflection on how to close the learning gap created from our time away from the classroom brought our team to the goal of making our master schedule even stronger. Through the IDOE book study with Mike Mattos on It’s About Time, we learned how we can be sure to embed reteaching time into our schedule and maximize our resources for remediation and enrichment. 

2. Taking a Step Back From Evaluation – While administrators did still visit classrooms, it was done more informally and the short and long requirements were more lax this year as we focused on the safety and wellbeing of both students and staff. This led me to take time to delve into Craig Randall’s book Trust-Based Observations that will be guiding how I do observations and coaching next year with my team. It focuses much more on the relationship between admin and staff and how we can leverage that for more in depth conversation, reflection, risk-taking and growth. 

And the #1 POSITIVE THING to come out of Covid for this principal was …… CELEBRATION! 

We did it! We actually did it! We completed (or will very soon) 180 days of in-person learning that helped keep students engaged, safe, fed and loved no matter what their home circumstances were. We managed to show and prove that education is indeed a moral imperative of society and that the service we provide to our students and families reaches so much further than instruction and assessment, it meets the needs of the whole child and impacts the entire family and community. So…. WAY TO GO INDIANA PRINCIPALS! THREE CHEERS TO YOU AND ALL WE HAVE ACHIEVED!

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