It has been an unprecedented year for the public education system. In our work supporting district leadership with change management, we’ve seen firsthand the challenges that districts are up against. Teams can feel the urge to pivot when things get uncertain and to revert to status quo. In these challenging times, we’ve seen that what sets good leaders apart is focus on their north star.
Stockton Unified School District in California undertook and launched an ambitious, three-year curriculum implementation project in early 2019. During the 2019-2020 school year, Stockton implemented four ELA and Math curricula across K-12. In March 2020 when COVID-19 forced school shutdowns, Stockton was experiencing a robust curriculum implementation across the district. At the same time, there was a change in leadership.
By staying the course on the curriculum implementation project even during the transition to distance learning, Stockton’s curriculum implementation team conveyed their commitment to high-quality curriculum and instruction as an equity lever. With transparency and with a focus on stakeholder experience, the curriculum implementation team was able to create a sense of possibility and hope.
Here are some strategies to support your team through uncertain times by fostering community and a sense of possibility:
- Be transparent — To inspire adults to action, honesty and transparency are the best policy.
- Be humble — Acknowledge the unknown and commit to communicating information and updates as they become known.
- Be consistent — Be consistent in your messaging and in your processes when steering a team through uncertainty.
- Be responsive — Respond to the real, emergent needs of the adult learners in an uncertain situation.
- Focus on disrupting inequities — Investigate normalized patterns of practice that recalcify inequities and focus on the micro-decisions that intentionally disrupt patterns of inequities.
Stockton stayed the course in the 2020 pandemic year because they were able to prioritize that all students have access to high-quality materials even in remote learning environments.