July 24, 2020

Hey Friends!

That’s right, you read properly, my laptop and I are going on vacation with the family to the NC mountains starting tomorrow. Honestly, I was feeling sad about not getting up to New England to see family and friends this summer, but a chat with a friend who is “enjoying” 90 degree weather on Cape Cod has helped me appreciate our trek to the mountains more. Go ahead, ask me how much AC one might find in older homes in New England.  Before we get going, for those seeing the expanded links in this email, see the P.S. at the end of this message as it might save your eyesight.

Okay, while in my head I am picturing hiking around waterfalls, I recognize that we are still in a global pandemic, so let’s start there.

  • First, I am fascinated by this publication on Imagining September: Principle and Design Elements for Ambitious Schools During COVID-19. So fascinated, I am willing to forgive the taunting use of ambitious and their use of the phrase “design charrettes” (yeah, I looked it up, it’s basically a facilitated gathering where people break into groups and design things quickly). The insight into how the charrettes were held is actually pretty interesting and includes links to workbooks and whatnot in case you want to contemplate your own.
  • The CDC released what I would call quasi-new guidance late yesterday. They didn’t really recant old guidance, and I bet they hear about that, but they did note the importance of student social interactions and otherwise agreed with what we have heard from some pediatricians and others. They do go a little more into the levels of transmission and making sure there is consideration of the local conditions. It might be helpful to get a little more color on that from somewhere official, although some of you live in areas that are getting a little closer. Harvard has teamed up with a few groups that brings you this county by county picture (let’s be thankful, once again, for the detail oriented people who thrive on such projects). I will give this a closer read, although one head already spoiled one plot line by telling me that the CDC is backing off of screening a bit.
  • One thing that made me feel pretty good was this article from Harvard that pretty much confirms that the process most of our schools are using to tackle this pandemic monster is a good one, even for large districts. It’s a good one for other insights as well, including some of the challenges that our public schools brethren are facing.
  • Everyone seems to want to simplify things these days, but I kind of liked the Atlantic’s recent take on These Eight Basic Steps that will help us reopen schools. If that doesn’t help, this one on supporting school leaders for a successful school year during the pandemic might.
  • In more local news, many of our states made this list of seven states (AZ, FL, LA, SC, TX, GA, AL) that are heading toward a total shutdown. I am a bit skeptical that most governors will go this total shut-down route again, but it is a sign that we are reaching a point of potentially uncontrollable spread. Along those lines, we are seeing areas like Charleston delay public school openings because of virus spread, creating that standard of care around local numbers. 
  • I know there is more out there on the pandemic, but seriously, how much pandemic can we fit in one email? Let’s end our COVID news with higher ed. In short, many of their best laid plans are being shelved. And, some worry that this is a set-up to blame students for lack of self-control when there are really many more issues in play. As if that were not enough to worry about, Scott Galloway, an NYU professor who is known for his analysis of higher ed, released this overview, chart, and spreadsheet analyzing the potential perish, struggle, survive, and thrive thresholds for most colleges in the US. It makes you wonder what the same tool might look like in our independent school world.

Next, there are some SAIS events I need to bring to your attention.

  • First, I am waving the big red flag over the election coming up and the contentious discussions it will likely trigger. I know, it seems early to be talking about this, but you might remember that things got really exciting – and not in a good way – in and around our campuses in August of 2016 right around the time of the conventions. While COVID’s gift to us might be the inability to hold traditional political conventions this year, they still happen the last two weeks of August. In an effort to help you till the soil for healthy conversations early, we are teaming up with ISAS and NWAIS (two other regional organizations) to bring you a two part series of webinars specifically around Pre-Election Civic Engagement. We do need to charge for these, but it’s $100 per school to empower anyone and everyone on your team to attend (or watch after the fact). 
  • While we decided not to do an Institute for New Teachers this summer given how much professional development you are all doing, our incredible INT faculty did some short videos for us and we have posted pre-recorded training videos and other resources on this page. We are also hosting question and answer session for new teachers next week.  
  • We are doing these awesome support conversations with Rob Evans and Michael Thompson over this upcoming academic year. The heads’ one is full. However, we do still have space in the administrative leaders group. The total of six sessions is $325 and groups are limited to 30. We know that many of you make these PD decisions and wanted to make sure that you are aware of this opportunity for your administrators.
  • Finally, just for heads, we are hosting a couple of sessions with Mark Frankel, Judy Schechtman, and Abbi DeLessio from Triangle Associates on Leading Bravely: Sustaining Community for What Comes Next. These are free and also limited to 30 participants each.

In other news …

  • You really need to read this article about what is next in the Black@ movement. It provides background on the movement and what we might seen next. Along these lines, we have an article in the works pulling together policies around hate language and symbols that might help your school as you develop your own. Along these lines, I thought this insight into teachers of color on campus and pressures on them was on point. As was this blog post on An Education in Racism from NAIS. And, if you want to get a little wonkier on this topic, this Harvard EdCast is specifically focused on Educating for Critical Consciousness around race.
  • For those looking at a head search this year, I love this interview with Doreen Oleson about reducing bias in heads’ searches. Doreen is an incredible person on a variety of levels – not least because her first year after stepping down as head of school she went to Italy and lived in a little village so that she could learn to make gelato – but her insights in this area are invaluable having been on both sides of the search table.
  • This short piece with links from the Enrollment Management Association on storytelling for your school is a great one for your enrollment managers and others as you prepare for the admissions season (egads) ahead. I would add, EMA’s annual conference is virtual and they have a one price, whole school approach to their pricing this year. It includes all kinds of pre-courses and whatnot (starting now through the end of September), so might provide some efficient and effective PD in a year when budgets are tight and travel is limited. My family loves a good sale, and this is the year to find them on the PD front.
  • Also, this law firm is doing Title IX training for schools that might still need to get that done given the PPP funding issues.

Do not forget our bring-your-board-member(s)-to-round-table day next Wednesday at 4:00 Eastern/3:00 Central! 

Finally, I will leave you with this Hamilton parody on returning to school… or if musicals are not your style, how about human-sized bats in the Philippines?

See you next week!

Debra