Principal - May/June 2021 - 51

LEADING
LESSONS
Moving from a hyper focused look at
standardized assessments to a concentration on student readiness and
subject mastery might prove more
beneficial, increase student motivation, and improve teacher retention
and recruitment. This is an opportunity public education can't miss-a
chance to create a personalized,
competency- based system instead of
a comfortable but archaic system of
teaching and learning.
To plan for teaching and learning
in a post-pandemic world, take the
following steps:
* Prioritize the content, knowledge, and
skills students need to master in each
subject and on each grade level;
* Create a definition of success beyond performance on standardized
assessments to reflect the readiness
needs of students as they exit your
system; and
* Establish a plan to address the SEL
needs of students and staff.

Shine a Spotlight on Equity
COVID-19 has clearly emphasized how
marginalization can impact a student's
educational experience. From the
rural broadband gap to the working
parent who can't be home during the
school day to support their student's
remote learning experience, we have
evidence that opportunity is not equal
in public education.
The pandemic's end won't eliminate the need to create a system
that's more equitable for all students.
At some point, each school and
school district will need to analyze its
strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, and educators will need to
design quality learning experiences

Look to the latest issue of Leading
Lessons for step-by-step guidance from
the authors on teaching and leading in a
post-pandemic world. Download the staff
guide at naesp.org/leading-lessons.

for students that do not compromise a student's ability to demonstrate mastery
due to a lack of resources in the home.
Take these steps to work toward equity:
* Conduct a thorough review of your policies to identify barriers and obstacles to equitable access and opportunity for all students;
* Revise policies and/or practices to reflect your beliefs about equity; and
* Provide staff with professional development and training related to creating a more
equitable teaching and learning system.

From Surviving to Thriving
A sudden change in circumstance quickly made educators think carefully about
what students need to know and be able to do. By focusing more on essential
learning concepts and enduring understanding, schools and districts have an
opportunity to shift instructional programs in a way that might allow students to
improve the depth of their knowledge, apply critical thinking skills across disciplines, and make connections that lead to new understandings.
Districts that take advantage of the opportunity to change the mindset of what a
quality instructional program consists of and carry it forward beyond the pandemic
will be ready for the future demands of public education. This new " essentialism "
could allow us to develop students in ways that show a return on investment in
their ability to not only acquire knowledge, but also apply it to real-world situations.
Schools and districts should consider the fact that adjustments made due to
COVID-19 might need to become permanent practices to make the educational system
effective. Educational leaders and policymakers should acknowledge and outline the
things that should remain part of our work, practices, and policies post-pandemic.
Let's make no mistake regarding the need to innovate. No longer should we
ask students to fit the system we've designed; rather, we need a system that is
designed with students at its center. Schools and districts that move to a studentcentered approach will position themselves to better meet the needs of those
they serve post-pandemic, while those that make only slight alterations to their
processes might fail to realize the benefits.
So while it's tempting to look at the pandemic as something to survive or
endure until things return to normal, teachers and administrators should take
advantage of the " new normal " to create schools that focus on equity, whole-child
education, student growth, and preparation for the future. Because what, exactly,
the future holds is anyone's guess.
Latoya Dixon is director of Early Childhood, Elementary, and Gifted Education at
York School District One in South Carolina.
Steven Weber is associate superintendent of Fayetteville (Arkansas) Public Schools.

P R I N C I PA L * M AY/ J U N E 2 0 21

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