Why Wouldn't You? Finding a Silver Lining in School Shutdowns

Dr. Scott Seaman
Apr 28, 2020
image of sun rays bursting through clouds over a lake

With all of the trauma and tragedy caused by the pandemic, it's easy to ignore some of the silver linings and opportunities it brings as well. There are many unintended consequences, both positive and negative, of shutting down an entire school system as we are all pushed into completely uncharted territory. I don't need to list all of the negatives, because we are reminded daily of those, but what about the positives?

Well for starters, I've had more conversations with stakeholders from preschool to higher education than I've ever had before in my role here at AWSP. We have collectively hit the brakes to step back and closely examine many of the systems that have just been "running" for decades. It is no secret that being in education is like running non-stop on a treadmill, but our current reality gives us a chance to step off of the treadmill and start asking some deep reflective questions.

I'm having weekly meetings with leaders from the entire education spectrum. That never happened before. I used to wonder why various stakeholder groups and organizations were never at the same table to talk about what is best for kids. It's scary to ponder the notion we were never in the same room together, yet "students" and "learning" were our common purposes.

In the last few weeks, we've engaged in powerful conversations about historically entrenched systems that seem to just perpetuate in the P-16 world. Now, we are talking about them. I've witnessed new relationships between the K-12 world and higher education. I've seen districts and regions come together to talk about best practices moving forward. I've seen the private sector and community partners jump into the fray to talk about how we can tackle education now, and improve it in the future. I've seen swords, shields, and armor put away as long-standing silos are torn down in the name of reframing what is possible for kids moving forward. This is all happening because a pandemic forced us to hit the pause button on what we've accepted as normal.

AWSP has been just as guilty of continuing to run on the treadmill. For years, we've relied on various systems to connect with our members. From typical communication channels to board and committee meetings, we've operated under the same give and take systems for years, until now. Guess what we started doing that we could and should have done years ago? Office hours. That's right. We hold weekly office hours for any and all of our members to jump in and meet with the AWSP Executive Team and K-12 principals from all over the state. This is a wide-open session of give and take, but more importantly, to hear our members (principals, assistant principals, and other school leaders) share challenges, successes, and barriers they face as newly assigned digital leaders. It is so incredible to watch these natural and organic conversations take off each week that I find myself thinking, "Why didn't we do this sooner?"

Well, pandemic or no pandemic, we will continue this new practice of bringing principals together in a virtual setting from here on out. The conversations are too rich and too rewarding for everyone involved. So just like I've found new relationships and connections happening for me at a state-level leadership role, I strongly encourage all of you to do the same. Miles, travel budgets, and time out of your building can no longer be an excuse not to engage with your colleagues. These new virtual networked improvement communities are just what you need for balance, self-care, and ongoing professional support.

It's not a matter of why, but rather why wouldn't you?

Join us for AWSP Office Hours or our Grade-Level Office Hours and tell us, "what's your silver lining?" 

  • adult learning
  • advocacy
  • assistant principals
  • behavior
  • bullying
  • community
  • Creating a Culture
  • culture
  • Distance Learning
  • Diversity & Equity
  • Grade Level Leadership Committees
  • Improving Instruction
  • Legislation
  • networked improvement communities
  • Networking
  • Office Hours
  • Professional Learning
  • resources
  • SEL
  • Self Care
  • student learning
  • Virtual Learning
  • AWSP
  • Productivity
  • Professional Learning
  • Advocacy & Legislation
  • Elementary
  • Middle Level
  • High School

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