‘Flatten the Walls’: Communicating During the Pandemic

When we shut our doors in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my inbox almost became unmanageable with the flood of questions from parents. Being the senior class assistant principal, you can only imagine the number of questions about graduation. We quickly developed a blog as a means of sending out information about graduation and other announcements. However, while creating a virtual graduation program, we realized that the need for interaction went well beyond just posting daily announcements. We needed to do more virtually to connect with all of our stakeholders. Redefining our communication with our stakeholders and cultivating partnerships became my central focus for the summer and is informing my approach to connecting with our school community during the new school year. (more…)

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Communication and Planning in the Time of School Closure

In March of 2020, schools all over the country were physically closed. However, teaching and learning continued. In Saluda County Schools (SCS), we made clear and consistent communication one of our top priorities. Here are four things we believe we did well that may help other school leaders communicate and plan for what may be an uncertain fall. (more…)

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Four Steps to Shift Perceptions of Feedback

In education, we value communication and feedback. We know that growth occurs when we take action on feedback we get. Even so, no one likes unsolicited advice. When discussing what supporting teachers does not look like during a Twitter chat, the comment “unsolicited advice is about the worst support one can offer” led to a lengthy conversation. (more…)

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The Power of Positivity—and Postcards

Over each of my last five years as a high school principal, we have set three schoolwide goals. Ranging from advancing college and career readiness to increasing attendance, our goals have been simple, student-centered, and focused on getting staff buy-in. Two years ago, we specifically set a goal to improve our community relationships with stakeholders and increase positive communication, and one simple strategy helped us do both. (more…)

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Daily Announcements During Times of Uncertainty

When this global pandemic began, I asked myself three basic questions: 1) What can I do to lead our community during this time of uncertainty? 2) What does our community need? and 3) How can I have a positive impact on our students, staff, and community during this difficult time? At Millard South High School, we pride ourselves on living the Patriot Way, and I used the school’s eight pillars to guide me on this journey. Here is how the pillars guided me while continuing daily announcements after the school building was closed. (more…)

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Purposeful Technology Use During the Pandemic

Can hear me now? How about now? Did my stream cut out? Or, more embarrassingly, did I forget to unmute myself? Today’s educators have taken on a task no other industry has accomplished. We completely changed our methods, our platforms, and our engagement from in-person to online in record time. (more…)

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Engaging Families in Remote Learning

Throughout my #remotelearning series, I have tried to provide practical ideas and strategies that can be used now. One aspect that needs more attention, at least in my opinion, is how we can assist parents throughout this ordeal. It goes without saying that many of them are dealing with some intense challenges such as equitable access to technology, WiFi availability, finding time to assist their kids with schoolwork, and a general sense of not knowing what to do in a remote learning world. Combine this with the added responsibility of working from home themselves, dealing with impending or current unemployment, the stress of not being able to see older relatives, and being a parent, and you can assume that tensions are running high. They need our support and understanding just as much as our learners do. Together we are better, especially in times of crisis. (more…)

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Communication During COVID-19

In March 2020, students and educators walked out the doors on a sunny Friday afternoon, waving to one another because spring break had officially begun. Little did any of us know that spring break 2020 would turn into COVID break 2020. Projects were completed, more books were read, but then reality came knocking, and we as educators found ourselves back at work and communicating with students—and each other—in new ways. (more…)

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When School Buildings Are Closed: The First Few Weeks

On Tuesday, March 10, I was meeting with my instructional leadership team after school for our regular monthly meeting when I was alerted that an email just came in from our superintendent about COVID-19. Effective immediately, all after-school activities, assemblies, and events were cancelled. School would continue during the day as normal, but no guests would be allowed on campus. The email was sent to the entire district: staff, students, and parents. There was no warning, no call to the principals to prepare us. This was a sudden mandate we needed to respond to. (more…)

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