November 6, 2020

Good Afternoon, Friends!

Well, this is the week that just won’t end. I was sort of hoping not to have election groundhog day playing in the background for most of this week, but that would be too much to ask for 2020. In light of the already exhausting week we have been enjoying, I am really and actually going to keep this to almost recreational reading levels. Looking back now, I am not sure I was that successful, but I tried.

First… we are fortunate enough to have Barry Johnson, who literally wrote the book on managing polarities at the heads’ roundtable this Wednesday at 4:00 Eastern / 3:00 Central. We will talk through how to leverage polarity thinking when you are managing tensions such as safety and normalcy on campus, diversity and belonging, etc. If you have never worked with polarities before, this is going to be a great conversation and it will give us a chance to do some group input on what kinds of things we should all be considering as we manage these pressures we are seeing.

Skimmers…. This article from Venable on PPP loans is helpful, stay on top of this trend related to online surveillance and student privacy, this particular article about five scenarios for the future of learning and talent, diversity food for thought in this month’s  Fast Statsthis piece has some great insights into setting the tone for difficult conversations, and revisit this the video linked here on Neos .

The big flag of the week was around those PPP loans. Do keep an eye on the unfolding saga of PPP loan audits and the like. The SBA put out two draft questionnaires, one for nonprofits and one for for-profits, for those who borrowed more than $2million. For those who have not borrowed more than $2 million, do check them out as well because there has been a lot of conversation in the review of smaller loans and these forms are probably good representations of considerations that will be happening out there. Lenders have received these questionnaires, but no one should be doing anything with them until they are finalized through the regulatory process. Comments will be taken on these forms until November 25th. As someone who oversaw the regulatory work for independent schools for a long time, I feel safe saying that the likelihood that this form will change substantially in light of comments is probably fairly small, so do take a close look at these. Here is the thing, you will likely need to figure out ways to share your school’s story and insight through these forms and now is a good time to start thinking about how to pull that together. In the spring schools were generally cancelling fundraising, have extremely low returns on enrollment agreements, and looking at substantial investments in technology for that window, and also PPE and other virus mitigation supplies for the upcoming school year. Schools were also in the process of cancelling summer programs, dramatically impacting their auxiliary income. Take the time to reflect on your decision-making process and the documentation you may need. This article from Venable is helpful. We will share more when we have it, but do track what is happening here as forgiveness and audits are coming before too long. On that note, know that forgiveness forms are NOT due on December 31st, in case that was a low grade concern lingering out there.

Let’s go for some big picture and mostly education things next …

  • I love this piece from UNESCO around nine actions for public action in education in a post-COVID world. Maybe it’s because in the midst of fracture in our country, I am encouraged to think of people rowing in the same direction for the general good of humanity, or because I truly do believe that education is the key to human growth, opportunity, and advancement. Either way, check it out.
  • As an attorney, I have been following stories and policies around privacy for a long time, with generally increasing discomfort at what technology can do. So, when I was recently approached by an edtech group I know about a “cool new tool” they have created to “track online student engagement,” I listened patiently and then once again found myself uneasy at the prospect of online surveillance of students. As it turns out, these online tracking tools for students are not striking a harmonious chord with the student either. Stay on top of this trend as there is no way that we are not seeing more of these in the future.
  • Next, I need someone to tell me if this very hip website and related information is very cool, really annoying, or trying to boil the ocean. It can be all three. I do keep going back to it, though, as it attempts to pull together key terms in education from knowledge through to apprenticeships and the like. And, it provides you will links and profiles of all of the various groups that are providing support or services in these areas. Years ago, Pat Bassett had us read a book called Wikinomics. There is a segment on the global factory floor and the modules that people use to fit together. Schools have been moving in this direction for a while (witness Project Lead the Way to provide engineering curriculum, training, and networking, GOA for expanding your course base, etc.), but this pulls together at least some of these edtech resources in one place. These do help with scale, but see uneasy comment from above.
  • I might be behind on this one, but check out this site, and this particular article about five scenarios for the future of learning and talent. It was written pre-pandemic, but I think most of the changes are being accelerated. I have only skimmed it (the full report is a bit long), but the link will give you the short version. I am taking this bad boy on my trip this afternoon for deeper thinking.
  • Really look at Jeff Selingo’s piece on the Science of Admissions in higher education. It provides great insight into what higher ed is facing and notes some trends and topics that we might want to track in our schools.
  • Check out EMA’s interview with Ozan Varol, who wrote the book, Think Like a Rocket Scientist. This podcast is all about how to bring this thinking into enrollment management, and a bit beyond.
  • Here is my non-ed piece for this list, but I think it’s a good overview of what we need to think about as schools right now. Many you likely do already, but revisit this list and check your school against how well it’s hitting these pieces. The authenticity part reminded me of some work I was a part of at NAIS around Neo economies. If you have not seen the video linked here, do check it out. It’s very fun and, hey, it’s not COVID or election related (and your board will love it)! While you hit this one, check out how COVID is changing corporate governance.


A few really good diversity related resources…

  • Jeff Mitchell from Currey Ingram gave us a lot of food for thought in this month’s  Fast Stats.
  • Creating an inclusive classroom hints, tips, and pointers.
  • Why our leaders of tomorrow really need to be part of diverse teams and communities today
  • A framework for determining how incorporated diversity, equity, and inclusion are really incorporated into any business, and how you know.
  • And, something I subscribed to early this week, a daily exercise for understanding and engaging in antiracist work.


What a week without some pandemic news?

  • To no one’s surprise, pandemic compliance fatigue is real and spreading (you know, in case your community has not let you know that through, email, phone call, texts, and sky writing). I also wrote about this in my president’s letter from this week’s e-newsletter.
  • This is a great overview from the American School of Warsaw on their reopening. Of particular interest is their use of testing for those going down that road.
  • My son gives me extra points whenever I question homework, but thinking about its role in a pandemic might get me double points.
  • And, it turns out that children don’t develop the same levels of COVID antibodies as adults, which might also be why they often don’t have the same severity of response.

Learning and Teaching

Again, there has been some great things out there in the inter-web about learning and teaching. Here are few nuggets.

  • Uncomfortable conversations seem to be almost a given on any given day. This piece has some great insights into setting the tone for them and managing them successfully in the classroom.
  • great overview for teachers, particularly those in elementary schools providing reminders of what students really need from schools right now.  Need one to help you personally navigate these conversations? This is a great guide.
  • I love this piece on using student feedback during the school year. It has links to examples and forms. And, here is a really in-depth version on collecting and using student feedback for those that want to dig a little deeper.
  • And, if both of those have you thinking about the corrective feedback you need to give someone – review these pointers before you go in.

It’s not like we need to look far for bizarre this week, but I wanted to share this incredibly unusual retraction of an Atlantic article around hard driving parents in CT using sports to get their kids into college, no matter the cost. The piece frankly rang pretty true for me given what I have seen and heard over the years. It is really, really hard to find the article now, but you might have seen it before. It’s more than a little ironic that a high pressure parent and Atlantic reporter were caught falsifying an article about extreme pressure to succeed. And, hopefully you didn’t miss this story about the Dutch train that was saved by a whale’s tail.  If you are feeling at a loss this week, it might help you to see this visualization of values from around the world. You know, in case you are real estate shopping.

Finally, if you look at all of this and think that there is no way you can take in all of this new information, well, there is a lot of reality to how hard it is to learn as an adult.

Okay, I need to go catch a plane, so have a great weekend and stay safe out there!