It’s Go Time for 2022-23: Superintendents Want to Keep Moving Forward
Mask mandates. Remote learning. Weekly testing and contact tracing. There are many elements from the past two years that educators are happy to leave behind. But there are also some innovations and opportunities, like virtual professional learning, that they don’t want to forget.
During the edLeader Panel, “Leading Learning in the 2022-2023 School Year: Ready, Set, Go,” superintendents discussed how they’re preparing for the upcoming year, the main challenges they’re facing, and what they’re doing to move their staff and students forward with optimism and excitement.
Key Challenges for 2022-23
- Staff and student well-being: While some of the physical aspects of the pandemic are going away, the superintendent panelists are still concerned about the social and emotional health of their communities. They’re implementing systems structures, instead of one-off or occasional check-ins, so they don’t miss anyone who needs help and to create a culture where people realize the importance of SEL.
- Community backlash: Whether or not they have children in the school, there are community members spreading negativity about public school systems. In turn, this can affect student and staff morale. So, the superintendents are asking students and staff to share their stories and explain what’s actually happening in their classrooms.
- Safety: Schools should be welcoming, trusted environments for students, and the panelists are working on how to address that mindset with their community. In addition, some districts are partnering with local police departments to set up safety plans and build their relationships with law enforcement.
Key Focuses for 2022-23
- Staffing: From teachers to instructional aides to bus drivers, schools are still trying to fill positions for the new year. They’re coming up with methods not typically used in schools, like employment open houses, to bolster their ranks.
- Strategic plans: Many plans took a backseat to pandemic needs but now the panelists are shifting their attention back to the strategic growth of their schools. Similarly, the leaders want their staff to focus on looking forward and driving growth rather than crisis management, which has been the focus for the past two years.
- Team building and leadership: Previous years have been about health and safety protocols, but now the panelists think superintendents should be building up the leadership skills of their staff. That might mean giving them permission to lead and letting them know that they have the tools to handle challenges.
Key Takeaways from 2021-22
- Digital equity is essential: Whether it’s bouncing signals off water towers or building new connections, schools need to make sure that every student has the same access at home and school.
- Virtual meetings bring opportunities: All of the panelists said they had more family engagement just because school meetings were online, and teachers extolled the benefits of being able to drive their own professional learning at their own pace. While the panelists don’t want to go back to fully virtual environments, they are embracing the areas where virtual access enhanced the school community.
- Assessments need to evolve: Students don’t need a formal test to assess whether they learned a concept or not. There are a variety of ways to measure progress that don’t involve sitting all of the students down at the same time with a timed test. Moreover, as students are in different places developmentally, their learning shouldn’t all look the same.
- Give the whole school community a voice: In-person meetings, Google Forms, surveys, etc.—schools continue to provide ample opportunities for community members to share their experiences, frustrations, and wins with the administration.
Finally, the panelists talked about how they’re using the additional federal and state funding provided during the pandemic. While some of the funding was used for tech over the past couple of years, this year they’re mainly allocating the resources for social and emotional learning. While the panelists know the money won’t last, they hope to gather data on what programs work—and why—and use that information to find partners and funding beyond the pandemic.
Learn more about this edWeb broadcast, “Leading Learning in the 2022-2023 School Year: Ready, Set, Go,” sponsored by ClassLink and co-hosted by CoSN, AASA, and edWeb.net.
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Blog post by Stacey Pusey based on this edLeader Panel