“Being a good listener is absolutely critical to being a good leader; you have to listen to the people who are on the front line.” -- Richard Branson
In my career, I was lucky to have learned from Madeline Hunter, an educational guru. About teaching, she always said, “A well-planned lesson is 9/10 delivered.” When district folks and you put together continuity plans for remote learning, I am hopeful that you followed Madeline’s advice and planned well. Some districts I know have already begun the implementation of their continuity plans, while others are waiting to start the week of April 20. It seems that the preparation of this new type of learning for teachers, parents, and students to feel comfortable and to create a safe community of learners is the most essential thing to occur first. I am hoping that thoughtful educators won’t jump right into academics, but teach procedures, rebuild relationships, and focus on the human element.
Even if the lesson is well-planned, there is always the delivery. And that is where you come in. You have either been given a plan, hopefully, helped develop it, hopefully with teacher ownership. If not, you are the one that is going to hear all about the worries, the fears, that this is not going to work, that you are not doing enough, as the plan is implemented. Maximize all of the usual complaints, concerns, worries, and uncertainties during a regular school year and multiply by 10!
Hunter as you know also shared the importance of checking for understanding. “Teach a little, check a little, teach a little, check a little,” she used to say. That’s what you need to do. Check for understanding with your teachers, “How is the plan working out? What do we need to consider to ensure the best outcomes for our students? Check-in with your parents. What does it look like and sound like at home on their end? What support and resources do they need? Finally, check in with your kids. What is their perspective about learning at home? What excites them about this opportunity? What might they want more of? Less of?
All of this stress, extra time, worry about everyone, and trying to ensure that you are leading with all of your heart and soul is exhausting and stressful. So I need to check in with you! I don’t have to remind you that your work is isolating. Who is that critical friend or thought partner you have designated to ensure that you are okay? That you are being taken care of? Who is your “canary in the coal mine?”
You may remember that before technology tools were developed to measure carbon monoxide levels and other toxicities in caves, miners took canaries into the coal mines. Their sensitivity to the odorless, colorless gas would make them ill or die, signaling the miners to evacuate, saving human lives. Who is going to give you an early indication during this crisis?
If you have already talked with a significant other, colleague, spiritual adviser, trusted therapist, or friend to be your “canary in a coal mine.” Good! If not, I am willing to be your “canary in a coal mine!” I am here to support you by just being a listener and ensure that you don’t flame out! Call or text, at 269.998.7829 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I don’t know all that you are dealing with right now, but I want to learn, listen, and support you!