Suffer, Survive, Seek, or Serve?

On Monday morning, as I prepared to return from our weirdly early and even weirder version of spring break to a weird version of school called remote learning, I tried to follow my normal school day routine (though a bit later start than usual). Part of that routine is listening to two podcasts, NPR’s Up First and the School Leadership Series. I get a sense of any news I might have missed or want to be up to date on and get a little leadership boost to make me feel like I know what I’m doing.

Waking up a little later than usual and getting ready for a virtual meeting felt unusual to say the least, but the voice that came out of the School Leadership podcast and her message was more than welcome. Danny Bauer hosts, but each week a different school leader lends their voice and message. Jaz Ampaw-Farr might be the most energetic voice I’ve heard yet, and her message couldn’t have been timed better.

The Four States of S

Yes, somewhat cheesy alliteration, but who doesn’t need that. Plus, I remembered exactly what she said because of that cheesy alliteration. The question of the day is, which state are you in today? Suffer, Survive, Seek, or Serve. I don’t know if it is the state of the world right now that made my own state of mind more apparent, but it was valuable for me to think through which state I was in.

Fortunately, I have not been in a state of suffering as some are right now. Even saying we ‘survived’ our week at home feels a bit of an overstatement compared to many. It was clear that I was in a state of Seek, and still am. As our school returns to our new normal of remote learning for the foreseeable future, I am seeking what to do.

I spent many days over our break excited about the many ideas coming from educators, authors, illustrators, and others who are motivated to make this remote learning experience as valuable as possible for our students. Not being in the classroom anymore, however, leaves me in a state of confusion. As teachers figure out how to design a new classroom, I need to figure out how to support them?

To be honest, I didn’t get many answers Monday. I got a few more today, and I’m sure they will come steadily over the next week as I fluctuate between survive and seek modes, hoping that I can serve. Mostly, I will be seeking answers to questions that might help me serve teachers, families and students without overwhelming them at the same time.

Seeking to Serve

One way I’ve started to visualize this future is through one question:

When we return to our traditional school setting, how will we know we’ve been successful?

While we have a date of May 15 awaiting our return, there is a chance that we won’t see students and families in our typical setting until next September. Using this question though will allow me to set some very specific objectives and key results. Along with other administrators we started to answer this question today.

  • Our communities remains connected
  • Teachers and families feel supported
  • Teachers gain new tools that help them become better teachers

The next step is to consider how to measure these objectives. How do we know our community has maintained it’s positive sense of self? How do we know we have supported teachers and families successfully? Over the next week, my goal is to define these objectives with measurables and create key results and actions that will help me serve our teachers and feel like we are moving forward, despite the standing-still feeling that I am sure will persist over the coming weeks.

I hope you find ways to feel like you are serving others in the coming weeks, but give yourself time to work through the other stages as well. Know that there are communities around you ready to support in any way they can. Don’t hesitate to reach out and help. There are lots of people like me who are just waiting to lend a helping hand, but we may not know when or where to ask.

If any of you have experience setting objectives and key results like the ones I’ve mentioned and can help me think of ways to measure these, please let me know. I know that is one area where I need help and if I can find answers, it will help me serve others more effectively, which is the ultimate goal.

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