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COVID-19’s Lessons for Today’s Educational Leaders

The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most disruptive public health crises in modern history. Yet, we have only begun to comprehend its profound effects on virtually all parts of human life.

One area, however, where the effects of COVID-19 have been drastic and undeniable has been education systems, both in the United States and throughout the rest of the world. Normally one of the most reliable and consistent forces in the lives of young people and their families, educational structures were upended completely as students stayed home instead of reporting to school, teachers dealt with entirely new mediums and methods of teaching and educational leaders scrambled to readjust their plans and keep their school communities safe.

The response to these disruptions begins with school leaders, and the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of decisive, effective leadership in education more than any event in decades. Moreover, the pandemic has inspired industry-wide reassessments of effective planning and strategy for school leaders.

All the change in education has created a major demand for successful school leaders, and a degree like the Educational Specialist – Educational Leadership K-12 online program from Northwest Missouri State University positions graduates to be ready to step into a meaningful leadership role in any school community. This online program prepares graduates to develop an equitable and inclusive school community, meaningfully collaborating with school community members and ensuring growth for both teachers and students, among other leadership strategies.

Given the massive shifts that COVID-19 has caused in education, school leaders need to be able to adapt and apply their skills in myriad different ways. Here’s a look at some of the lessons educational leaders have gleaned from COVID-19 during the last few years.

Use Technology Effectively

In a survey on “School Principals’ Learnings From Covid-19 Pandemic” published by the Center for Inquiry in Education, many principals pointed to the effective maximization of technology as one of the primary shifts in the educational experience due to COVID-19. The necessity of remote learning immersed educators in digital teaching like never before, and the pandemic laid bare both the strengths and weaknesses at all levels of the school community in that realm.

Now, principals and school leaders are taking steps to integrate technology training into the professional development of teachers and, in turn, allow them to integrate it into their curricula, lesson plans and classroom methodology. School leaders are finding new ways to harness technology’s connective power to more effectively bring important messaging to all members of a school community.

Foster Family Participation

Due to quarantines and other safety measures, students were forced into various types of at-home schooling during the pandemic. Many parents found themselves more involved with their children’s education than they had been before the pandemic began. Similarly, teachers saw children less than they had before without the routine of in-person instruction bringing everyone together in a physical space. As a result, school leaders have recognized the importance of increasing the involvement of parents, guardians or other relevant family figures in a student’s education.

Fostering greater family participation helps support students’ learning goals on multiple fronts and ensures that parents and teachers work cooperatively to achieve a common goal. It also helps parents better understand how they can use their immense influence to support their children more effectively.

Prioritize the Social and Emotional Well-Being of School Community

Social and emotional well-being has been a topic of conversation for years, but its importance has really been thrust to the forefront during the pandemic. The toll of the last few years on the education profession has been unprecedented. This is even true at the leadership levels, as this post from EducationWeek points out: 42% of secondary school principals are considering leaving the profession, according to a 2021 survey. That represents a 110% jump from previous years, as well as a frightening trend for education and schools.

“Well-being is a prerequisite for learning. Well-being is a prerequisite for teaching, and it’s a prerequisite for leading,” it notes, and there is a need for effective social and emotional investment in school members at all levels: leaders, teachers and students. Leaders are responsible for actively creating an atmosphere where holistic well-being is part of the norm and managing or treating issues that are to the detriment of mental health is encouraged. Further, they must ensure they care for themselves and set the correct example for those in their schools.

Learn more about Northwest Missouri State University’s online Educational Specialist – Educational Leadership K-12 program.

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