“We live in a time of opportunity and danger. Individuals, organizations, communities, and countries must continuously adapt to new realities to survive. Wanting more, wanting to thrive even under constantly shifting and often challenging conditions, people in all sectors are called on to lead with the courage and skill to challenge the status quo, deploy themselves with agility, and mobilize others to step into the unknown.”
- The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World by Alexander Grashow, Marty Linsky, and Ronald Heifetz
It’s fun to be a leader. You were chosen because you are a “solutions and get it done” kind of an educator! It’s also very challenging, as it requires you to keep yourself fit – physically, mentally and emotionally! It requires that we relinquish the superhero cape and share the real work of leadership. The work district and school level leaders must accomplish is weighty and we must admit that building positive capacity in others is the only way to accomplish our goals and sustain them over time. You could have the greatest initiative ever, and spend an entire year working for all hours every day to get it going, only to be moved to another campus or another position for the following year. What happens to your initiative then? It slowly disappears, as staff and leadership changes. Moreover, doing everything on your own just takes longer! To solidify the foundation of a great initiative in an organization, it is crucial to build capacity in others.
We know educators strive to provide the appropriate level of instructional support each student needs to achieve at least grade-level mastery. We have all experienced students arriving to our classrooms with a wide range of knowledge, skills, experience and interest. It is quickly evident we cannot just charge through the curriculum lockstep and hope that every student gets what they need. Even when utilizing varied daily instruction to accommodate for students’ different learning needs, some students still require additional support to master new skills and content or catch up on missing skills from previous years’ standards.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, our country’s education system is facing one of the most significant opportunities for learning loss that we have encountered in nearly a century. As educators work to address this reality, they are also tasked with managing a variety of learning contexts from fully remote/virtual classrooms to in-person learning and hybrid models. Many administrators are looking for ways to reduce teachers’ workload to mitigate the stress and burnout that has come along with teaching during a pandemic. Some districts have made the decision to “pause” differentiated instruction or “lighten up” on the best practices of the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS). Unfortunately, this decision will likely have a detrimental effect on student outcomes and create even more work for educators down the road.