Happy Friday, Friends!

I know, you missed the extended dance version last Friday. Good news, this week was so busy that I didn’t have time to double down on catching up on my reading, so you are getting off a little bit light. Besides, you need to get out and enjoy this beautiful fall weather while it is SNOWING in New England and CO.

First for the slackers skimmers:

This piece from Thomas Friedman, this insight from HBR on not really pivoting, this insight into what CFOs in other businesses have been doing, insight from OneSchoolhouse on what we learned about pedagogy and content delivery, the concern that some of the mental health trend for teens (although check out this piece from the Atlantic, too), and this very cool look at the evaluation process for learning disabilities.

Election

First, did you hear that there is an election going on next week? I just saw a friend during lunch as we both re-acquired our dogs from the vet, and he asked me to promise that we would still be friends regardless of how the election turns out. I don’t remember ever having such a conversation before about politics, but it is a sign of the times that people are worried that there social worlds might be rocked by next week’s outcomes. If you are still looking for some resources, NAIS has a great toolkit that it put together and we have a collection of statements from schools to parents, students, and staff, as well as a couple of civil discourse examples. Bonus points to USN for flagging this very cool election resource for students on tracking electoral outcomes. While I know people will be delighted and horrified whatever the outcome next week, the world should still continue to spin, students will still need to learn, and we all need to remember that relationships are still the key to happiness. Still, you might want to keep an eye out for opportunities to learn what either administration will bring in terms of policy.

Broader Thinking

This piece from Thomas Friedman really caught my attention, particularly this quote: “’Learning is the new pension… It’s how your create your new value every day.’” This article focuses on the revolution coming to education and work, but the most important takeaway for me was that this generation better be ready to keep upgrading their learning and skills. This is daunting given how little people read, but maybe online learning and other opportunities will take root with this generation.

You might also be interested in this insight from HBR. Honestly, I might like it because it takes on the idea of pivoting in a crisis. Given how I feel about the word “pivot” these days, the notion of not pivoting in a crisis, but slowing momentarily to check your direction and purpose makes good sense to me. In many ways, this is what our industry has done. We have recalibrated delivery and built in needed flexibility, we have also become more aware of weaknesses in our systems and models, but I suspect most schools have found comfort in the timeliness of their missions and work.

Finally, and this might seem random, this insight into what CFOs in other sectors have been doing caught my eye. We don’t love to think about our schools as businesses, but when I think about the topics I see in here like digital transformation, outsourcing non-core functions, smart communications, and making smart budget cuts when needed, I think about what outside experts looking at education have told us for some time. Sometimes they’re not wrong.  

A few specific COVID related pieces….

  • Keep tracking what is happening in your state around the CARES Act funding and equitable services. NC came out with these two pieces this week: CARES Act FAQ and Providing Equitable Services
  • word of warning on the admissions bump some schools experienced this year
  • Insight from OneSchoolhouse on what we learned about pedagogy and content delivery that we want to remember
  • Speaking of that shift, we do keep talking about trends we want to continue post-pandemic, and this list for education seems on point.

Leadership

We had a fascinating conversation with Tim Fish this past Wednesday at the heads’ roundtable. Invariably, I tend to find the tangents particularly interesting. We spoke about leadership a bit, and the general concern for the shortage of next generation leaders, particularly those who might want to be heads of school. This dialogue between Ann Klotz and Kathryn Purcell is a great example of nurturing leadership within your school, even when you know your objective may be for that person to flourish in another institution as a leader. As we discussed, the virus is great at pointing out weaknesses in our structures, pedagogy, program, and people, but it is also great and showing us strengths. Now might be the time to identify people for future leadership.

Along those leadership lines, I love this piece on the value of setting vision right now, in part because it can help you and your staff prioritize and not try to do everything. How else can you support and keep your staff motivated right now? These reports from other schools might help.   

And, as you reflect on your role as a leader, don’t forget to take care of yourself – HBR says this is particularly true for leaders. I know, I know, several of you probably snorted a little bit just reading this and knowing me, but I have regular things I do that help me re-set. Some of them don’t involve food. Progress. Want to send something helpful along to you staff? Check out these free 15 minute check-in tools for teachers with the Morning Thrive.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Two resources here that were really interesting to me. The first is one from higher ed about faculty diversity through Black educators. I need to read it again, but it grabbed me the first time. Also, this piece that really talks about the role hiring plays in addressing racism in school culture, but also other steps that really have an impact and help to create cultures of belonging.

Students

We did a webinar yesterday on helping your community manage a loss. As many of you know, I have spent a fair amount of time on student wellness, and yesterday reminded me of the ongoing struggles our students have around mental health issues. Youth suicide has been trending up for some time, and there is concern that some of the mental health trend for teens around COVID could cause a spike.  You should check out the webinar and the related resources, they will help your school create sample communications and structures in advance of a crisis. One that is not on that list is this one from the American Psychological Association to help school identify students who need support. On the upside, there is some data that shows that some students did fairly well through the lockdown period of the pandemic as they were sleeping more, had closer familiar relationships, and had less on their plates. (and the upside of more sleep, family relationships, although did feel the impact when family members lost jobs, etc.). Our friends at OneSchoolhouse have a some great 30 minute webinars on this topic, by the way, as well as some other ones. And, other good news, the college students are abusing substances less during the pandemic, although they are more anxious and stressed.

A few other quick items on the student front:

  • College athlete recruitment is tough this year and this article about helping students navigate this time was a good highlight on the topic.
  • This piece had some great ideas about approaching student community service right now
  • And this one written for parents, educators, and maybe students about still engaging in school when motivation has run to empty was promptly forwarded to my senior.
  • Also, the inclusion of the African diaspora in the AP Seminar class is apparently a hit
  • And, the Ivy League is apparently still going to be hard to get into this year.

Parents

  • I love this notion of road schooling. You would have to tie my children to the roof to sign up for this road trip, but these trends in parent flexibility are worth watching.
  • Do you have parents who could use more support? I love this one from HBR on forming a parent posse, particularly now when parents are a bit overstretched.
  • And, for your back pocket, this is a very cool look at the evaluation process for learning disabilities. It’s great for parents and educators, for that matter.

Finally, for those with more virtual conferences ahead, these are great tips on making the most of them. If you missed the SAIS conference, you can access the sessions here on the hip new LMS we have started to use. These recordings are free for those who registered.  We do need to give a shout out to Tim Wiens who is highlighted on the federal Department of Ed website for the work he and his team have been doing at Mount Paran. He was kind enough to join us for our enrollment retention webinar this week with Chris Angel and Christina Drouchin from EMA.

And, just to keep you laughing … these college essay prompts are so much closer to what I have been thinking as I review my son’s essays. And, for those looking for the subpar parks posters I shared, here is the website.  

That’s it for me, Friends! I have a tennis match to watch this evening as my son starts this weekend’s tournament. Go grab those moments away!

Debra