In times of crisis, when emotions are high, it is increasingly essential that we Press Pause to make the best possible decisions.
The current COVID-19 crisis creates unprecedented Events in our daily lives. We are managing strong emotions – loss, isolation, and fear. When we act base on emotion – rather than intention – we don’t achieve the desired outcomes.
We intentionally focus on health and safety; we save lives by being disciplined in our responses. This work isn’t easy; we are living in historic times. How we respond to this crisis, and how we recover from it, will determine our future.
Our society’s most important investment in the future is in our children. The resources we put into our public schools, the work our teachers do in our classrooms, are the single most important factor in America’s future success.
Each child in our public schools has the potential to have a positive influence in the future. Each individual student is a work in progress . . . our teachers are shaping our tomorrow. We can provide the foundation of knowledge and support the development of values.
Our teachers are creating and building tomorrow one student at a time. There is nothing more important!
In Hilliard, we teach our students about the R-Factor. We teach them E + R = O. We can’t control the Events in our lives; all we can control is our Response, which determines the Outcome. Our ability to “adapt and adjust” is essential in achieving successful outcomes.
Our current crisis amplifies the need to “adapt and adjust” quickly. We identify new challenges every day. We don’t know when or if we will return to our school buildings this school year. We don’t know when it will be safe to gather for Graduation Celebrations with the Class of 2020. We know there will be a time to transition back toward normal, but we don’t know when or with what restrictions.
Your Hilliard School Leaders are considering many different options. We will be ready if we return to our buildings in early May or if we don’t return to traditional classrooms this school year. We will adapt and adjust to changing health conditions. Our district follows the leadership of Governor DeWine. The health and safety of our community is our priority.
We won’t get it right every time. We will adapt and adjust to the ever-changing time with purpose and skill. Please know, we make each decision with positive intent and with the most current information. Hilliard embraces change; we live our values. Adapting to change is a skill – a skill we value and teach our students.
Faith . . . complete and unwavering trust and confidence . . . the seeds of our beliefs are our faith.
We have spiritual faith, we have a personal faith, and we have faith in others. We have faith in ourselves, our abilities, and our values. Strong faith leads to strong behavior and ultimately leads to successful results. Weakness in our faith, cracks in our armor, leads to weak behavior and poor results.
When things get tough having faith in our purpose, having faith in our service to others, gets us through the tough times. When organizations are tested, having faith in our team gets us through the challenges.
Don’t let the craziness of the world around you alter your faith. Lean on your faith, lean on your team, and win each moment.
None of us is perfect . . . we should never expect perfection from anyone. When we expect perfection, either from people in public life or people with whom we have personal relationships, we are only setting ourselves up for disappointment. We all make mistakes; if we aren’t making mistakes, we aren’t trying new things.
What we can expect are honesty and values; we are compelled to expect alignment to a shared vision and purpose. Our district has been intentional, purposeful in aligning our values and behavior. We talk about and more importantly strive to model, our focus and commitment to our culture. We all fall short from time to time, but our commitment to the team inspires support and caring.
I never expect to see perfection because we are all imperfect. It’s easy for people to be critical – especially when they are hiding in anonymity behind their keyboards in the safety of their home. It’s easy to point out other people’s flaws. It takes work, it takes effort to learn from mistakes and live our Power of the Team. We accept our Stand Up and Own it approach to leading a district and learning in classrooms. We own our behavior, learn from failing-fast, and live our lives in humble imperfection.
One of the greatest responsibilities in public education is change. We, as the educators preparing students to be successful in the future, are obligated to change our methods to meet the future needs of students. Change is part of the world today; we can’t hold on to the past and hope it returns.
I continue to be befuddled by those who yearn for the past, those who truly believe “the good old days” will somehow miraculously return. As educators, the simple truth is manufacturing jobs are not coming back, our students aren’t going to need twentieth-century skills, and technology will continue to accelerate at a dizzying pace. The best 1980’s school is a failure today.
We can’t escape the responsibility of change. For us to live our mission, for us to prepare each student to be Ready for Tomorrow, we must embrace the discomfort of change. We will discuss and debate our methods. We reflect on our practices; we keep what is working, improve where we can improve, and toss what is outdated.
Originally posted in March 2018, we continue to dream today of a better future and dare to embrace the productive discomfort required to ensure Hilliard students are Ready for Tomorrow.
Our public education system faces many challenges. Keeping our children safe has become a topic for legislators and our national news media. Mental health issues continue to mount for the children in our classrooms. We lack alignment between our educational purpose and what’s required to prepare students for future success. We balance the costs of a high quality education with the reality of the tax burden on our residents.
It’s time to stop accepting the status quo; it’s our time to create the education we desire for our students. It’s our time in Hilliard; it’s our time to think, dream, believe, and finally dare to be the change we want to see. Yesterday’s education isn’t preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s success. It’s time to dare. Together we think and dream; we hypothesize and fail as a team. We are the dream builders; we are the believers. We dare and we succeed.
“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like “struggle.” To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” – Fred Rogers
Last year I had the opportunity to meet, converse, and share with members of the Apple Education Team regarding their hiring practices. I was intrigued that outside of the required technical competencies, Apple considers empathy and teamwork as essential to be part of the Apple Computer Family. Apple intentionally interviews to gauge empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.
Developing empathy, striving to understand someone else and share real feelings, is missing in many stations of our lives today. For many, society today is about winning. For many, other people’s feelings, opinions, or beliefs are unimportant. Winning is when my beliefs and values are codified or institutionalized.
We must change this narrative. We must care for one another, expect empathy from each other, and embrace the struggle.
Where will our students be in the fall? How will schools close the gaps from remote learning? How far behind will these students be?
There are all relevant questions; we don’t know all the answers. I do know we will act with the best intentions, focus on students first, and continue to serve each student.
Yes, there are going to be some gaps created by eLearning. Our teachers are doing their very best, but remote learning isn’t a replacement for face-to-face instruction. I’m confident our secondary students will be very close; our experience in Canvas and with iPads had these teachers and students prepared to respond to this crisis. We all have concerns with our elementary students; we have a lot of room for improvement. Nevertheless, all students will be in a similar situation. We will evaluate individual student progress and actively work to close the gaps. That’s what we do.
The focus now is to keep the learning going. We aren’t going to punish students; we will lift them up. Every student and every school will be in the same situation. Our students going to college will be in the same situation as students already in college. As a country, we need to have patience and be empathic. Now isn’t the time to let fear or anger win; now is the time for our better angels to guide our actions.
It has been decades since local school districts have had this level of control over public education. School districts are operating without state assessment, without an absurd report card, and with the ability to determine if high school seniors are ready for graduation. In the face of a global pandemic, educators have an opportunity. We have a chance to get education right.
Educators believe in accountability; we know there is a specific matrix for success that need to be measured. Teachers know that are fundamental skills required for success in life; we need to identify the base skills every child needs. Teacher know their students; during this crisis, teachers have stepped-up in the face of adversity to meet the needs of their students.
Now isn’t a time for minimum standards; now’s the time to define lofty expectations. Now isn’t the time for excuses; it’s the time for creative solutions. We also need to be prepared for the return to traditional classrooms. Education won’t, and shouldn’t, go back to where it was before this crisis. Our schools will be different. The skills we are utilizing during eLearning will serve us well to prepare students for future success.